There are many important things to consider when you are using the Internet to ensure your safety and the safety of your friends and family. One of the most important tools that a family with children can have is a child Internet safety program. There are many that are available and have many different and varying features. Here are some basic components that should be part of every Internet protection software program and the reasons they are important.
Some of the most important features include: site blockers, activity monitor, restrictions on chat and IM, time limit and program access restrictions, and download controls. These are only some of the features that may be available but are among the most important for keeping your children safe online.
Site blockers — This will be one of the most important tools that will be part of your software program. One of the factors that will help you monitor your children’s Internet activities will be to allow or disallow specific websites and categories of sites. One of the most obvious reasons you would use this feature would be to block access to any pornographic sites and any other sites that may have obscene and inappropriate images for children. But it will also allow you to do some other things that are important. If you notice that one of your children is spending an excessive amount of time on a specific site, you can block that site and others that may be similar to it. You can also keep them away from other harmful sites like hate sites and inappropriate joke sites. There may be an occasional site that slips through the filters so it is important to see where your children are visiting so that you can make adjustments according to your needs.
Activity monitor — This is also a very important part of your safety program. Parents can’t make the necessary changes and limitations unless they know what the problem areas are. Children may be able to try and cover their tracks if they want to hide where they are going online. But this feature will allow you to see where they are going and how much time they are spending on specific sites. You can also see if there are any inappropriate activities and if they are trying to go places they shouldn’t. You will also be able to see if they have downloaded any programs or files off the Internet and can evaluate if they should be allowed to continue going where they do.
Chat and IM (instant messaging) restriction — Chat and instant messaging are becoming more and more popular with children of all ages. Communicating with friends is very important to them. But they can also be exposed to unwanted contact while using these resources. It has been noted that one in five children between the ages of ten and seventeen have received some type of sexual solicitation over the Internet. This is why managing and restricting chat and IM services is so important. Families who believe this never happens often find themselves the victims because they are unprepared.
Time and program limits — Kids seem to be spending much more time inside playing video and computer games and surfing the Internet. One way you can help reclaim the schedule they should have is by limiting the time they can spend on the Internet and the programs they can use while on the computer. Many operating systems have this feature built into them as well. You can also determine what times of the day your children are allowed to use the computer and it will not work if attempted outside of these parameters.
A few other features that might be included in your safety program are download controls and remote management. These features allow you to manage your computer even if you are away from home and don’t have the ability to check in person yourself.
One important thing to keep in mind is that there are many ways programs can help you keep track of what your children are doing online to ensure their safety, but no software program will ever be able to replace the love of a parent and communication of expected behavior and adherence to rules and guidelines. Make sure these are used alongside your child Internet safety program.