The internet is an amazing tool for adults and children alike, with millions of websites available at the touch of a mouse. Kids can find educational sites to help them with their homework or supplement information they have learned at school. They can even set up their own site to talk to their friends, meet new people and show the world their personality. Additionally, the internet offers entertainment in the form of games or chatting with people all over the world. While this freedom and list of endless online possibilities sound wonderful to children, keeping them safe from the not-so-friendly-or-educational areas of the internet can be overwhelming and a huge source of stress for many parents.
How does a parent figure out where to start to keep their child safe on the internet? A great place to begin is by sitting down with the kids and determining which sites are appropriate then setting the internet filters on their personal computer and the home computer to block or filter unwanted sites whether . But what sites should a parent filter? Here are a few sites that a parent should filter in order to keep their children safe on the internet.
To keep children safe, a parent should block pornographic sites as there is no reason children would need to view sites that feature adult material. Many times children view these images by mistake; filtering pornographic pages will keep children away from material that they could accidentally come upon while researching for an assignment or trying to find games.
Chat rooms are another group of sites parents should strongly consider filtering because they can be very dangerous. Many times children go to chat rooms to meet new friends. However, their new friends aren’t always other children looking for new friends; sexual predators looking for children willing to give too much information about who they are or where they live often hang out in chat rooms, posing as children. Even though children may know that they are not allowed, under any circumstance, to give their full name, address or other personal information, over time they may begin to feel comfortable and trust their new friend enough to share such information. As this can be very dangerous, filtering chat rooms is an important, necessary step to protecting children online.
Internet filters are great for blocking sites that contain inappropriate words. Because children can easily happen upon these sites accidentally, it is important to filter sites containing offensive words. Filtering sites for offensive words can block the entire web page and keep young eyes from seeing material far beyond their years. While filtering out sites with inappropriate words may seem like an inconvenience when adults are using the computer, adults can go into the filter system’s control panel and unblock these sites when they are working on the internet.
Social networking sites, as they are called, such as Mspace.com and Facebook.com, should be filtered, especially for younger children. These sites are safer than regular chat rooms since a person using either site can set their profile to private so it cannot be viewed by anyone except those people that they allow to see it. However, as these sites may contain words and pictures not suitable for young children, parents might want to consider filtering them anyway.
Internet filtering is a supplement to, as opposed to a substitute for, parental involvement. Parents should talk to their kids often about what they are doing, and what they are viewing, on the computer and set rules about what may and may not be looked at during when their children are online. By filtering these inappropriate websites, parents are many steps closer to keeping their children safe from the vulgar language, inappropriate pictures and predators that are unfortunately a danger to their kids.