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CyberSitter 2001 review: CyberSitter 2001

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The Good Blocked more offensive sites than any other filter we tested; relatively easy to set up and use.

The Bad Won't customize settings for multiple users; frustratingly slow when filtering sites and e-mail.

The Bottom Line CyberSitter offers the tightest protection and requires the least parental intervention but can be difficult to use. For an easier filter, choose Net Nanny.

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6.0 Overall

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CyberSitter is the kind of sitter you hated as a child: the one who never let you grab a late night snack or stay up past your bedtime to watch Charlie's Angels. It's easily the strictest Net filter we tested; its default settings blocked the greatest number of our test sites. On the downside, CyberSitter is also the least flexible program we reviewed. There's no way to customize it for multiple users, for example. If you need the strictest, most diligent blocker around, give CyberSitter a spin; otherwise, turn to easier, more flexible Net Nanny.CyberSitter is the kind of sitter you hated as a child: the one who never let you grab a late night snack or stay up past your bedtime to watch Charlie's Angels. It's easily the strictest Net filter we tested; its default settings blocked the greatest number of our test sites. On the downside, CyberSitter is also the least flexible program we reviewed. There's no way to customize it for multiple users, for example. If you need the strictest, most diligent blocker around, give CyberSitter a spin; otherwise, turn to easier, more flexible Net Nanny.

Service for one
CyberSitter's greatest fault is its one-filter-fits-all philosophy. There's no way to customize different settings for different users; you must either play by the same rules as your kids or set up windows profiles for each person who uses the computer, then go into Cybersitter's advanced security settings and tell it which profiles to exclude from filtering. This process is much easier in both Net Nanny and Cyber Patrol.

On the bright side, CyberSitter offers superior filters. You can opt to filter up to 25 types of sites, including those devoted to wrestling (if you object to violence) and Pokémon (if you object to nonsense). (CyberSitter automatically blocks five default categories: sex, drugs, violence, hate, and illegal gun sites.) If someone hits a forbidden link, the program either issues warnings and stops you cold or redirects the browser to CyberSitter's family-friendly search engine. And although you can specify certain URLs you don't want the program to block, you can't view the list of restricted sites. The program's newsgroup and chat filters are an all-or-nothing proposition, too; you can't block some and allow others.

Snoop Loggy Log
You can set CyberSitter to record your kids' Web activity in a log and to e-mail you daily reports. However, these dense, single-spaced logs record every URL your browser touches, including banner ads, so you'll have to pore over them to glean anything useful. And, unlike Net Nanny, the program offers no way to log activity with filtering turned off, so you can't give your kids free rein, then check up on them later.

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