Parental controls improving

We – parents – are the winners in the "showdown of new parental controls in Apple's Leopard versus Microsoft's year-old Vista," CNET's Stefanie Olsen reports. The reason is, filtering, monitoring, and time-control features are increasingly built in right at the operating-system level on both PCs and Macs now. That means it's all easier for parents to use and tougher for kids to find workarounds (younger kids, anyway). The huge key thing parents need to keep in mind, though, is that the idea of "the family computer" is beginning to fade – at least in the world's wealthier, more connected countries. More and more households have multiple computers, which might require rules restricting kid use to particular computers. But even so, the Web is available on more and more devices, most of them highly portable. It's also available at friends' houses, or course. The friend's house (or public library, or local wireless hot spot, etc.) is probably the No. 1 "workaround" for which no parental-control software you buy or set up works. Even so, Olsen reports, "parents are clearly paying more attention to technology for managing their children's computer use, especially as more kids venture online at younger ages." She cites NPD research showing that "sales of parental control software were up 47.3% percent in the first nine months of 2007 over the same period last year," and some of the top-selling off-the-shelf parental-control products are Enteractive, Microforum, and ContentWatch.

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