Best free parental control software: 9 programs to keep your kids safe

Block access to sites and programs, record keystrokes, get email alerts and more


5. FortiClient

Download FortiClient

Parental controls are sometimes included with security suites, so check your system carefully before you install anything new - you may have the functionality you need already.

Or, if you're also looking for a security suite, try something like FortiClient. It's free and fairly basic, but does have two useful features.


The Parental Control module helps you block website access by category or URL, and logs all attempts to visit blocked sites for review later. And the Application Firewall does something similar for programs, allowing you to block them by group ("Instant Messaging") or as individual applications ("Skype").


6. Windows Live Family Safety

Download Windows Live Family Safety

Family Safety is Microsoft's limited (but free) contribution to the family world. After installing it locally, you're directed to a browser-based interface where you can configure every child's account.

Windows Live Family Safety

There are options to restrict website access, block your child from running particular programs and games, and decide when they can and can't use the PC.

It's basic, but free, and easy to use. And it's also convenient, as Family Safety comes with Windows 8, and is available as a part of Windows Essentials for everybody else.


7. Qustodio

Download Qustodio

As usual with the free version of a commercial product, Qustodio has some restrictions. In this case there's no social network monitoring, and no way to control which programs your kids can access.

What you do get, though, is capable website blocking, as well as a versatile scheduler which allows you to choose exactly when your child can use the PC, or go online.


The program is available for both Windows PCs and Android devices. A browser-based console means it's easy to view reports on your kid's activities, no matter where you are, and the entire package is well presented and generally very easy to use.


8. Cold Turkey

Download Cold Turkey

Cold Turkey takes a different, but occasionally very useful approach to web filtering: it blocks access to some popular or named sites, but only until a given date and time.

So rather than, say, banning YouTube altogether, the program allows you to disable it until after lunch (or tomorrow, or next week and so on), at which point you'll automatically be allowed access again.

Cold Turkey

It's far more difficult to get around this protection you might think - you can't just change your PC's time, for instance - and so Cold Turkey could prove helpful in controlling internet access for older children.


9. Spyrix Free Keylogger

Download Spyrix Free Keylogger

Launch Spyrix Free Keylogger and you'll soon realise the program is the free edition of a commercial program, because it tells you, frequently, with very large adverts.

If you can live with that, though, you'll also find that it's a very capable PC monitoring tool. There are tools to record keystrokes, take regular screenshots, monitor clipboard activity and track whatever programs are being used.

Spyrix Free Keylogger

There are some useful configuration options, it's easy to view the information you've captured, and Free Keylogger can run invisibly so your kids won't know what's going on.