Are you worried about what your children get up to online?

Then a parental control package could help you out... just not this one. Webroot Parental Controls is wrong in several ways, but we'll start out with the most fundamental problem: it just doesn't do its job.

Blocking ''adult'' content

We set it for a child aged 11-13 and selected to block out "adult" content, violence, hate speech and weapons. For this age group, Webroot classifies the whole of YouTube as OK, so we got to watch explicit videos about sexual fetishes, guns and racist propaganda.

These videos are flagged by YouTube as suitable for over 18s only, but Webroot thought it was fine for our 11-13 year old to watch them anyway. We did a Google search for "make bomb" and clicked through to instructional videos.

Unclassfied sites

This is the trouble with how the software works: it says yay or nay to a whole site rather than evaluating the content on individual pages.

Another problem is that only a fraction of the Web has been classified by Webroot. You have to choose to block unclassified sites, otherwise all manner of nasty will get through.

Yet this results in an unacceptably high proportion of harmless content becoming blocked.

Disturbing categories

The list of blockable content categories in this software is wrongheaded and even sinister. Many users will be offended by the inclusion of a category to block "gay and lesbian". There's also a scary category called "non-mainstream" - presumably for curbing any dangerous thinking outside the box.

Many of the categories just don't make sense because they're so subjective. We can get a good idea of the kind of material that will be blocked by pornography or hate speech filters, but categories like "tasteless" and "non-mainstream" are so vague as to be meaningless.

We asked Webroot to elaborate, but the representative didn't get back to us.