As the world continues to become more technologically dependent, kids are spending more and more time surfing the Web. While there hundreds of free educational sites that teach children about the world around them, there are just as many dangerous websites whose content could hurt children. Although parents are becoming more aware of these dangers, some may feel they are not computer savvy enough to protect their kids from them. Parents need not despair as there are many internet filtering programs available to help them protect their children from online dangers. Here are a few tips on loading and using internet filtering programs to keep children safe online.
Most internet filtering programs are very user friendly. With some of them, the parent would simply place the disk in the drive and then the computer detects the disk, launches the program and uploads it to the computer, at which time the program starts to filter as soon as set up is finished. Others require a little user input to get started, but once set up, the default program runs on its own. All software comes with directions; parents simply need to follow the step-by-step instructions that appear on the computer screen or in the manual. The software will soon be loaded and ready to use.
Once the internet filtering program has been loaded on the computer, the user needs to customize the filter’s settings. For example, many internet filtering programs give the user the ability to filter for language, pornography, instant messaging and e-mail. Most programs also allow parents the option of having daily or weekly reports sent to them regarding what each user has viewed since the last report. Almost every internet filter program offers step-by-step instructions, found in either the user manual or on screen, regarding choosing and editing usage reports.
Parents must also ensure, when installing their internet filtering program, that their children will not be able to hack the program and change the settings. Parents should either protect the filter program with a password or a secret question. Doing this prevents their children, as technologically savvy as they might be, from hacking into the program and changing the settings.
Tool vs. Solution
While internet filtering programs are incredibly helpful tools for monitoring and filtering what children are viewing and doing on the internet, they are no substitution for parental oversight and supervision. Internet filtering programs should be used in conjunction with parent-child interaction. Parents should open up a dialog with their children about what is appropriate for their eyes online. They should also come to an understanding with their children about the use of chat rooms, Facebook, Myspace and blogs. By teaching children what is OK to use and view online, and then having the internet filtering program to help ensure children do not stray to inappropriate sites, parents will have a much better chance of keeping their kids safe on the internet.
The internet can be a great place for children to get research for homework projects, chat with friends, or learn about the world around them; however, it can also be a dangerous place of pornography and predators. The best thing a parent can do is to open up a dialog with their children about internet safety and also ensure that they have a quality internet filtering program to aid them in monitoring their children online.