As a parent you are probably concerned about the welfare and safety of your children. You may also be concerned about what you can do to protect them from inappropriate content that they may find as they surf the Internet. Even today’s youngest parents did not face the kind of online dangers that their children will have to face. Some parents may not even know where to start when it comes to monitoring their children’s activities when they are online. Many older people may not even know that such things such as filters and spyware exist!
Luckily in the quest to protect children form the predators and dangerous influences of the Internet we do not have to leave it up to chance. There are measures that can be taken to protect our children (and ourselves) from offensive or harmful sites online. Computers are becoming more sophisticated and easily allow control of such things. The Windows Vista operating system offers many features that help parents control the content their children are seeing.
These may include setting time limits, restricting certain sites or categories, restricting games and other applications, and monitoring use through activity reports. Time restrictions allow parents to set how long children can be on the computer and when that time can occur (i.e. not allowed to use computer after 10 p.m.). These restrictions can be different for each child and monitored through separate user profiles and logins.
Parents may also find it necessary to block a specific category of sites (i.e. pornographic, gambling, personals, etc.). These can be blocked using keywords or categories or specific sites can be blocked. Parents can also block what kinds of online games can be played based on a rating system established by game producers. Specific applications can also be blocked for particular users (You may not want your children fiddling with your Quicken information or accounts or may want to block games that are installed on the computer). Again, these settings can be personalized for each user.
Another very important ability of parental controls in Vista is the ability to generate and see action and usage reports. You can see when your children have visited certain sites, how long they spent on that particular site, and what applications were opened and when it happened. These reports can allow for parents to modify existing restrictions if they see a need arise. If there seems to be a site that a child is visiting more often and for longer periods of time than others, it may be a good idea to look into the matter further and assess the need for further actions. These reports can be generated at any time and with the right parental controls already in place, can be a great tool to help parents make good decisions about their children’s computer use.
Safeguarding their children is one of the most important responsibilities of a parent, and many measures can be taken to ensure that inappropriate online content be blocked and restricted. These things are a concern in our world where information is so easy to acquire and share over the Internet. There are real threats that are out there that can be prevented or reduced in severity through the proper use of parental controls and setting rules and guidelines for proper computer usage. Approximately 7% of teens who regularly use online personal profiles have had unwelcome exposure to material that makes them feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Make sure your children are in the portion that aren’t exposed to these harmful influences. Parents should take an active role in helping their children make good judgment about computer and Internet usage and can help them avoid situations that will be harmful to them.