Computing Which? tested six popular child safety (AKA censorware) packages - Net Nanny 5.1, AOL 9.0, Cyber Patrol 7, McAfee Internet Security Suite, MSN Premium, Norton Internet Security 2005 and Mac OS X Tiger - and found most were too difficult for parents to understand and manage.
Only Apple's Tiger operating system scored top marks for ease of use. Dedicated parental control packages ought to be simplified, noted Which? testers, who also identified problems with questionable classification of blocked and allowed web sites.
MSN Premium and Norton Internet Security 2005 fared badly across a set of tests earning a rating of just 35 per cent. Parental control software is designed to prevent kids from accessing sites containing pornographic, racism or other otherwise objectionable content, reports Register.
According to Telegraph, researchers looked at how well the software filtered out a list of "bad" websites and allowed access to "good" ones.
Of 30 blacklisted sites several slipped through the net, including pornography, a racist website and a list of hacking codes. Sarah Kidner, the acting editor of Computing Which?, said: "Software can help make the internet a safer environment for children but there's no substitute for parental involvement.
"Parents need to take an active role in monitoring what their children are looking at online so they don't inadvertently put them at risk."