Web Search Safety

by Barbara J. Feldman on August 29, 2007

Introduction

Many parents and families are concerned about what will be found on their home computer when family members are using the Internet. There are many wonderful resources and places to find useful and helpful information, but there are also sites that should be avoided. Knowing how to avoid the wrong kinds of sites while searching online is a very important topic for many families.

Instructions

Avoiding the wrong kind of sites is relatively easy to do so long as you have the right security features in place, and you exercise caution. Avoiding bad sites online will come more easily as you follow some of these simple steps.

Steps to avoid the wrong kind of sites when searching online

Step #1 — Learn about parental controls and set them. Most computers now come with parental control software installed when purchased. It’s important to understand how and when to use it. Set the controls to exclude a specific site or grouping of sites about a particular subject (pornography, chat rooms, personal services, or even sites with games or other similar content). As a parent, you can set web restrictions for your children that let them only visit age appropriate sites, allow or disallow downloads from websites, and block or allow specific websites. You can also set time limits to a specific account on the computer and block certain games or other software programs. Set these according to your family’s needs and expectations of what is acceptable to search for on the Internet.

Step #2 — Set search content filters. You can include or exclude websites from access through a rating system that can be set up on most computer systems. You can set specific words that will invariably lead to bad sites to be automatically blocked from searches. You can also set an administrator password that can only be overridden by someone who knows it or is the administrator of the computer.

Step #3 — Set privacy settings. Activate your computer’s firewall and make sure that you are not sharing files over the Internet you don’t want other people to see. Having a virus detection program on your computer is also important for you to be able to avoid undesirable content being downloaded to your computer.

Step #4 — Make expectations known to everyone who will be using the Internet. Set these expectations and make sure they are known to the entire family so they can avoid bad situations online. The entire family, including parents, should be aware of the expectations regarding computer use. Check in periodically and make sure that the rules are being followed and that no one is trying to bend the rules or get around them. Expectations have to be followed through with, or they are mostly useless.

Step #5 — Choose your words wisely. After doing all that you can do to protect your computer from accidental exposure to objectionable material, it is up to you to make sure that you do all in your power to give your search engine no reason to retrieve information that you would not approve of. In some cases you may find it more prudent to search for more delicate or personal information in a scholarly publication for example. When you type in a phrase for your computer to search for, take a moment to read what you typed. If you believe that the phrase could in any way be misconstrued, change your wording.

Other tips

Generally, making sure that your computer settings are in order and using caution with your wording are going to be enough to protect you from the wrong kinds of sites. A good rule of thumb is to simply have caution and security at the back of your mind at all times. It is often when we let our guard down that we encounter problems.

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Cite This Page

Feldman, Barbara. "Web Search Safety." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 29 Aug. 2007. Web. 21 Nov. 2014. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/tech/1156/web-search-safety/ >.