TOS Crew Review — PG Key

A couple years ago I worked through lapbooks on Hawaii with the kids and rediscovered the need to remain ever vigilant when surfing the web. Do you know how many people get tattoos in inappropriate places of Hawaiian flowers? Apparently not a great Google search item with a bunch of kids looking on.

In the end, I searched on my own and gave them a couple sites they could then look through for graphics. PG Key could have helped me with that.

The PG Key plugs easily into your computer and with a quick registration and a few personalizations, you are ready to go. You can keep an eye on your kids’ web browsing habits even when you can’t keep a physical eye on them.

Product: PG Key
Details : A plug in for your computer that helps you place restrictions on computer usage, view a history of sites visited, and help create a safer environment for your family’s internet time.
Price : $49.95

What we loved . . .

  • Time restrictions. Using the PG Key you can limit your child’s daily computer time without needing to set a timer. The PG Key will automatically lock them out when their time has expired. If this happens in the middle of something, you (the administrator) can get in and alter the amount of time they receive.
  • Easy to install. It takes almost no time at all to get this program up and running on your computer. You can spend more time setting your preferences, but as soon as you plug it in, basic safeguards are immediately in place.  Thousands of unwanted websites are instantly blocked.
  • Easy to use. Not just easy to get started, but easy to modify your restrictions. The controls are very easy to navigate.
  • Safe Search option. As a part of the program you can use a Google based safe search. This allows students to surf the web in a safer format that a regular Google account. This can still click over to the regular Google, but you could require them to conduct their searches from this site created to be safer.
  • One time cost. No monthly fees. With this product you buy it once and can use it without additional cost
  • Review what your child views. Whenever you want to check in on the internet use on the computer you can simply log in and view it all in a video format of screen shots taken every 5 seconds during computer use. It then saves up to 60 hours of this format. After that it begins deleting the oldest material first so you have the most current 60 hours of screen time available for viewing.
  • Easy to disable and uninstall. As long as you know your parental password it is easy to disable to key and even uninstall it if you decide not to use it any longer. This is helpful if a child pulls out the key and it gets misplaced or damaged. You can disable the program for situations like this.
  • Its own defense. If it is removed from the computer, the child cannot work on the computer any more until it is returned to the USB port. This ensures that students don’t just remove the key when they head into questionable areas.

Some considerations . . .

  • Not for the Mac. At this time this product is not available for Macintosh computers, but that is said to be in the works.
  • Seems to be some ghost glitches. When I first installed the key it crashed all my internet browsers that I tried to use it through. I called tech and they tried to help, but I needed to figure some things out on my end first and ended up uninstalling the key to make the process easier. That took care of the problems (since the program was no longer installed), and when we reinstalled it we went through their online installation process and the problems did not recur. When it caused those problems I was very concerned about recommending this product, but it did seem to resolve when I uninstalled and tried a second time. It seems that installing it through the key itself caused significant problems on our computer. The online installation seems to reduce some of these issues.
  • Your password is powerful. A child could easily disable the Key if they knew your password, so it is important (as always) to keep your password private.
  • Doesn’t block, just notifies. While you can block specific websites, you cannot block specific content. However, it does notify you when they search for content that you specify. This would work for kids that just need to know you are watching to keep them accountable for staying away from certain topics. However, for those that accidentally stumble on something, it will only let you know in hindsight, it will not keep them from viewing it.
  • Not a replacement for parental involvement. This is not to be used as a substitute parent or internet babysitter. If they are so inclined, kids will find a way to work around it or within it to get to what they want to. We need to remain ever vigilant to the threats and temptations that abound in this virtual world that enters our home through the computers.
  • Takes time for updates to take effect. If you want to change anything about the program it will take some time to see the change. If you add a restricted word, change the time limits, block a website, etc. you should allow at least a few minutes with the internet open for the change to take effect.
  • We already have a website content filter installed. Because our computers are already on a network that has a filter, I could not test the boundaries of this product, even if I wanted to. My kids are already working in a fairly safe internet environment that keeps them from even clicking on most inappropriate websites.
  • No online support section. For a product of this type I would like an online forum or FAQ section for support questions. You can call tech (but they are only open 8 hours a day), and can email even during off hours, but it would be easier to have a section to browse for answers and solutions to some common issues.

While the PG Key has some great features and addresses some serious issues, I felt that the glitches I faced and the inability to actually block certain words and phrases caused this item to fall short of my expectations from a product of this nature. If you need a product to monitor time spent or so you can casually keep tabs on a trustworthy child this may be a great help. Even much older children might benefit from this extra accountability to their internet usage.

At this time they are offering a free trial for one month of the PG Key. Check out their website soon as this is a limited time offer. You can see for yourself if this product will meet the internet protection needs in your family.

Each family will have a different experience with a product, so I would encourage you to check out some other TOS Crew reviews on this product, over at the TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: This gadget was provided to me free of charge through PG Key as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.

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