When your kids use the net for informational purposes, have you ever found yourself wondering or worrying about what objectionable or unsafe information they may receive or give (inadvertently or not) that may cause them harm? Well, if you have … you are not alone.
The World Wide Web is a wonderful source of knowledge and information, something that wasn’t very much there when I was growing up. The kids today are blessed to have such fun and fast tools handy to fulfill their every requirement. But amidst all the technology there is that constant danger of the kids losing themselves. While “losing themselves” in a PS3 game or an XBOX is one thing, the internet is a whole another ball game. If there is absolutely no supervision of the kids they can fall prey to vicious attempts of unethical websites of hackers.
The web can be a dangerous place for children and teenagers. In more ways than one, the children may knowingly or unknowingly come across objectionable or harmful content. There are so many websites that are full of graphic and violent content and so many other sites which target children to take advantage of their innocence. However, if you take the extreme step to cut off their access they’ll not take it too well. The middle path of practicing constant supervision and employing intelligent safeguarding techniques is probably in the best interests of both the parent as well as the child.
Create a Password for their PC
Setting up parental control passwords is the simplest way of dealing with the situation in case your kid is a teenager. Windows provides an easy way to configure this (http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-vista/set-up-parental-controls) where you can just go to the control panel and set up a separate user login for your child which has certain restrictions as set by you. These will include whether he can install programs or access certain folders or files. More importantly you can define which sites they can or cannot access and the hours during which they are allowed to use the computer.
Cutting Off Access to Adult Websites
No matter how innocent we believe our child to be, the truth is that age and the outside world will sooner or later influence him into doing or at least wonder about what sex is all about. That is natural but sometimes leads to dangerous behaviors. So, unless you actually think that your child is ready to take on the real world in his stride, you can restrict what he can or cannot access over the internet. A simple online tool called OpenDNS will more likely solve this problem. This tool is pre-configured to block content on your connection. You’ll need to open an account with them (http://www.opendns.com/home-solutions/parental-controls/) and then you can use their free family shield. They have a great filter that’s updated on a regular basis. However, savvy teenagers maybe hard to restrain using this. Other similar free services are Parental Control Bar (http://www.parentalcontrolbar.org/), The Web Blocker(http://www.thewebblocker.com/)
More Robust Protection
Some kids may find it easy to circumvent OpenDNS and similar sites, but again you are smarter than them, ain’t you? Use K9 - http://www1.k9webprotection.com/ . This is an installable program that installs on your computer and in addition to blocking harmful sites also keeps a log of the sites visited and you can even see the list of keywords used for this.
Though Kidzui (http://www.kidzui.com/), NoodleNet and Hoopah are well known, they are all paid browsers (though Kidzui does offer a 10 day trial) so if you are looking for something good and free you can try out KidzCD(www.kidzcd.com/) or BuddyBrowser (www.buddybrowser.com/)
Most importantly always take your kid into confidence and if they are old enough make them understand that what you are doing is what’s best for them and they’ll have these restrictions removed once they turn <enter age of your choice, advisably 18). Kids respond much better if they feel they are being treated with respect and decisions and rules are not merely being thrust upon them. Let them be a part of your decision in whatever way you can.