PROS / KidWatch Time Management allows parents to regulate internet usage and access.
CONS / Live support seems to be perpetually offline.
VERDICT / Its effective tools and features make it the best choice for time-control software.
Stop the chatting, late night gaming and free–for–all surfing with KidsWatch Time Management. This parental time control software can help you keep your kids on task and out of danger.
Our TopTenREVIEWS Gold Award winner, KidsWatch, easily monitors computer use times and access, so kids can be limited to approved web sites and homework suitable applications instead of spending time playing addictive games or chatting in anonymous chat rooms.
KidsWatch gives parents the tools to control internet use. It reports on your children's computer usage by email on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. It controls the amount of time a user spends on the computer. And it provides specific restrictions and controls per user. It is aware of seven categories of users.
An Administrator has full access to the program to configure accounts, set limits and restrictions and run reports. An Administrator has no restrictions to the PC or the internet. An Adult also has no restrictions and does not have to access the KidsWatch software.
Light restrictions apply to a Teen (14 to 18 years old). A Teen cannot access mature content on the internet and the product monitors chat content. A Teen is approved for up to 25 hours of internet access per week at the rate of six hours a day from 7am to 10pm on weekdays (11pm on Friday and Saturday).
Adolescents, age 11 to 13, have medium restrictions. An Adolescent is blocked from mature internet content and KidsWatch monitors chat content. Internet access is capped at 14 hours per week at a rate of four hours per day between 7am and 9pm, weekdays (10pm on Friday and Saturday).
Youngsters between the ages of eight and 10 years have moderate restrictions. A Youngster can use the computer three hours per day from 7am to 8pm with a 10-hour cap on internet use each week. A Youngster has no access web-based messaging systems, Facebook or MySpace. A Youngster cannot search for mature content or visit any site with mature content. And a Youngster cannot visit any site that cannot be categorized.
A Child, aged seven years or less cannot access most internet sites and Kidswatch restricts a Child to a total of six hours of internet use, weekly. A Child can use the computer for two hours per day, from 7am until 6pm.
KidsWatch has the ability to regulate multiple user’s time, internet usage and program access with report ability.
Parents can set time limits by the day, week or by time length and time of day. Program and Internet time can be limited as well. All of these time limits can be combined into different scenarios. For example, a kid’s access could be restricted to Monday–Friday 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm, with 15 minutes allowed for their favorite game, 15 minutes to chat and 90 minutes for homework. It also has a time–out feature, which allows parents to ground kids from their favorite game or internet site for a specific duration. Temporary passwords can also be created for extra program time, like when a kid is in the middle of writing a paper and needs a little more time.
Through the Website Filtering window, parents can limit time spent online, as well as which sites are allowed. You can also restrict key word searches, to prevent searches on particular words. You can even disable internet browsing from Windows Explorer, restricting internet use entirely.
KidsWatch has the ability to lock your system down and prevent users from installing or running restricted programs. You can prevent your child or employee from using the Control Panel or changing/replacing existing programs. This means that other users cannot change important system properties like display, user accounts, network connections or date/time without approved access.
Reports can be scheduled by the day, week or month, and you can get a different report or report type for every user.
Ease of Use
The product is user–friendly. The only initial hurdle is to train your firewall to play nicely with KidsWatch. KidsWatch can identify many popular firewalls and then it provides a PDF with detailed instructions about how to configure your specific firewall to cooperate with KidsWatch.
Ease of Installation/Setup
We had no problems downloading and installing the program – simply follow the instructions.
After installation, you can access the KidsWatch through the Start button or from the Time Control icon. When installing KidsWatch the program automatically identifies all existing Windows accounts on your computer and allows you to set up restrictions and passwords for each account.
KidsWatch Time Control offers several ways to contact support, including chat, telephone and email. There is also a user guide, online help and FAQs.
We had some questions for the manufacturer and sent them an email. We received a response in less than 24 hours with our questions adequately answered.
Time Control Effectiveness
To test the time control effectiveness, we set up several test accounts then rebooted our computer. We attempted to use the computer during restricted times and were blocked successfully. We then logged in as the administrator and changed some of the settings, and found that these adjusted restrictions were also upheld accurately.
"But wait a minute," you say "my kid is too smart to be blocked by parental control software." KidsWatch is well aware of technically savvy kids. To prevent little geniuses from tampering with your settings, the product lets you block access to the Control Panel tools such as Add and Remove Programs or the Taskbar and Start Menu options. You can also place the Command Prompt off limits. And you can block access to the Run command. You can even block a child from loading a disk that might have software that changes settings on the computer.
Since computer use is practically a school requirement these days, efficient time and access control like KidsWatch is mandatory to keep kids on task and out of trouble. KidsWatch Time Management is competent, easy to use and an effective parental stress reducer. You can provide access to the PC and to the internet that is appropriate to the age of your child. And you can receive reports on which sites children visit and what they say in chat rooms. We find KidsWatch Time Management to be best in class.