Wednesday, October 27, 2010

PG Key

We were intrigued and excited to find out that PG Key would be one of the products we got to review for The Old Schoolhouse. PG Key is a great idea. It is a parental control that is based on a USB device. That means no monthly fees, just one purchase price! This program is $49.99 and with it you get online support and the program itself, contained on a small USB device.

So what does it do? Well, I received this product thinking that it would be a content filter- it's not. If you are looking for a content filter you will probably not be happy with this. It is more like a nanny- there to watch your kids when you can't. It took me a little while to figure out that the ideas behind this program go far beyond keeping your children from seeing inappropriate
images. There is so much more to worry about online then images. Cyber bullying, predators, inappropriate chat and IM, and the list could go on.

PG Key has several features:
  • Control when your kids are allowed on the computer
  • Control ALL access to the computer by taking the USB device out
  • Stop certain phrases form being searched
  • Block access to certain sites, or to ALL sites except the ones you approve
  • Monitoring and recording of all activity on the monitored accounts
I really like the idea of this. I like the ability to record all activity. (it does not record when there is nothing happening, so you won't have hours of inactivity to search through.) You can re-play the recorded session like a movie, and you will be able to see anything that happened. You can stop, start, fast-forward, rewind and move the slider at the bottom, just like a YouTube video. It will record 60 hours of video!

I can see so many benefits to this, over a simple content filter. First of all, for some kids, if they
know that you are trying to stop them, they will just try to find more creative ways to get around it, just for the challenge. But beyond that, do we want them to simply AVOID any unwanted content, or do we want them thinking about where they SHOULD go and making conscious decisions about it? Knowing that you are always watching, even when you are not really there, will really get kids thinking about what they SHOULD do instead of trying to figure out ways to get around what they should do.

This is also exactly what you need if you are worried about online predators. You will have a recording of all unsafe behavior on your child's part, and you will also have evidence of any inappropriate behavior on someone else's part!

I also like how you will not have to worry about constantly un-blocking safe sites, because they had a flagged word in them. A lot of science, history, and other educational sites are blocked by content filters. That is so frustrating that many parents (us included) have just quit using them.

I think that this would be a wonderful resource for men who are struggling with an addiction. If they are seeking accountability, they can get a PG Key, stick it in and have someone set it up with a password. Now the person they choose to be accountable to will always 'be there', watching.

What DON'T I like about PG Key? Well, I wouldn't say it is quiet as easy to install as they claim. You still have to set up accounts, if you want different children to have different access allowances. You will also have to set up your time allowances, prohibited search phrases, and blocked or allowed websites. The main feature that starts as soon as you plug it in is the recording feature.

I was also disappointed to find that the ONLY site that was blocked was my blog! All of the 'blogger' blogs are blocked automatically, but pictures on Flickr, Google images, and Facebook were all available. I think that this is because PG Key uses Google Safe Search to determine what sites are blocked and allowed.

It is NOT a content filter that uses certain words or phrases to trigger it. Therefore, like I said, if you are wanting a content filter, this is not it. However, if you want to block sites like Flickr or Facebook, you have to block the WHOLE site, not just one account. So it is much better utilized as a monitoring tool, not a filter. It is wonderful for monitering.

You can read more reviews on the TOS Crew website, and when you are done with that head on over to the PG Key website to get a FREE trial!

I received this product free of charge
as a member of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew,
for review purposes. I promise to be honest
and fair in my reviews, and I received no
other compensation in exchange for my review.
You can visit The Old Schoolhouse Crew blog
to read more reviews on this product.


  1. Good review. Intresting that your blogger blog was blocked. I was able to access mine with the PGKey in. Hmmm.

  2. Interesting... :) So what happens if they take the key out?

  3. That was my first question as well. :) If you take the key out the whole computer is unusable until it is reinserted or a password is used to sign into an unprotected account. This is designed so that parents can make the computer off-limits completely sometimes by simply taking the key with them. ;)


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