I was recently given one PG Key to review in exchange for my opinion of it, and I was thrilled with the opportunity! While the computer that my children (9, 7, 5, and 5) use is in the schoolroom right next to my own laptop, they have been getting very savvy about Internet searches. They find something outside, and immediately come in and try to search the Internet to find out what they have discovered. In theory, of course, they are supposed to ask before using the computer, but in practice, I really have no desire to stifle the investigative techniques of my budding scientists. Thus, the arrival at my door of a device that promised to protect my children from all of this:
PG Key is a little bit more complicated than plug-n-play, but not much, and it needs to be somewhat customizable so that each family can decide for itself which Internet territory is off-limits to its offspring. When you open your software box, you will find this:
All that is required is for you to plug the PG Key into a USB port on the computer you wish to protect.
Once installed, you can customize your PG Key in a variety of ways. You can enter a list of "banned" search words that the Internet is forbidden to search (please note: this feature does not work in Google, however, PG Key will alert you when your banned words have been searched in Google, allowing you to monitor your children's activity, virtually in real time). You can set a time limit on your children's Internet usage. When the time limit expires, they must enter your password to access additional time. You are able to monitor both sides of all chats in which they engage, and block any websites you don't want them to go to at all.
I found PG Key quite easy to use. Everything about it was either explained or intuitive. Most impressively, the $49.99 price tag is all you will ever pay. There are no monthly monitoring or update fees. You can change the configuration of your PG Key anytime, so as your kids get older, you can change the banned words from "Harry Potter", for instance, to, sadly, "nudity." If you're looking for an aid to your computer observation efforts, though, you're not going to find one much cheaper than this one. If you're not sure you want to commit to the full price of PG Key, though, a free trial is available through their website.
PG Key works with Windows XP, Vista, and 7, but based on my trying it on two separate computers, it seems fair to say that the newer the computer and the operating system, and the more memory your computer has available, the less impacted your speed and performance will be by the installation of PG Key. Of course, if you have a computer dedicated solely to your children's use, as I am fortunate enough to have, it is likely that slightly slower performance will not be an issue.
My family has really benefited from PG Key, but to see what other members of The Crew had to say, be sure to check out all of the reviews here!