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Access denied: Our favorite, free parental control software

Ah, the turbulent joys of proper parenting in the digital age. There was once a time, prior to the Internet, when a social network strictly referred to you and your band of cohorts, when the Silk Road was merely a cross-continent trade route, and when the only pornographic images available lined the glossy interior of publications like Hustler and Penthouse. However, that time has passed, and most kids these days are well versed in the tech-savvy art of computing. That said, many of us wouldn’t mind a little protection when it comes to curtailing cyber bullying, blocking inappropriate websites, and simply limiting our children’s computer usage to something far less than the norm — which, as of several years ago, hovers around eight hours a day. Thankfully, there is plenty of free software available to help in doing so.

Related: How to block a website | Our favorite, free antivirus software

Most parental-control software is primarily concerned with blocking and restricting Web content, and that’s the biggest area of concern. Other programs offer tools for monitoring daily activities such as video and game usage, scheduling time constraints, and overseeing chat functionality, while still others find their stride in hampering specific desktop applications and discretely notifying parents of ongoing computer habits. They may not offer the same, robust analytics and functionality as their premium counterparts, but they’re more than capable of becoming an nuisance for your adolescent child or rambunctious tween.

This article was originally published on May 18, 2015, and has since been updated to include tinyFilter, Nanny, and LeechBlock extensions.

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