Parent resources on protecting children and family online.
~~ Protect your family with better web security.
The Internet offers your whole family wonderful ways to expand their knowledge and experiences. Of course the benefits do come with challenges but the good news is that you can take steps to help protect your children online and teach them how to use the Web in a way that helps keep them safe. The truth is no technology can be a replacement for parental control, involvement, and spending time with your kids but there are some ways to help protect your children from inappropriate content. Here are a few tips for protecting your children\'s privacy and internet safety when they are using the computer.
1) Decide what parts of the Internet members of the family can visit.
If you do not spend a lot of time browsing the Internet, your first step should be to see what is out there for yourself. There is no doubt that you are very familiar with Websites that appeal to your interests, but honestly it is a good idea to check out some sites for kids. Pay particular interest to sites that collect personal information. Do not worry, there is no shortage of safe places for children to go on the Internet. Just do some research and you will be surprised. Check out the privacy statement of the site to confirm that you are keeping your personal information safe.
One of the best defenses against inappropriate content is to block it before it gets to you. Internet Explorer has a Content Advisor. As a parent you have a unique opinion on what kind of content is appropriate for your child depending on his age, maturity, and your personal beliefs. The Content Advisor helps you limit what your children can view online. You can set limits by using your own criteria, the Platform for Internet Content Selection (PICS) rules, or the rating system of another organization you trust. These rating controls usually provide graduated levels of privacy choices that help prevent the display of inappropriate content, coarse language, etc., provided that the Web sites your child visits put accurate content rating information on every page.
There are paid and free parental control software out there. My best suggestion is to do some good research before you settle on one product. Parental control software can be a tricky thing especially because of how websites like to hide their content or try to trick people. Here are some suggested applications to try but definitely do your own google search on "parental control software."
Do not forget that a lot of the new routers let you filter content and web sites from within their Administrator panel. Additionally the Netgear FVS338 lets you even filter out going ports and allows you to close off ports you wish not to use. Or you can install a proxy and filter the web traffic through it.
2) Increase your security and privacy.
Do not just stop by blocking inappropriate content because it is a good idea to block sites and downloads that may be a risk to your security and privacy. I recommend the following tips even if your kids never use the computer.
Create different user accounts that each member or groups of family members can log into. Windows allows you to create multiple user accounts that each user can log onto a unique profile with his or her own Desktop and My Documents folder. As a parent you can give yourself an Administrator account with full control over the computer, and give your children Limited User accounts, with restricted controls. Limited Users cannot change most system settings or install new hardware or software, including most games, media players, and chat programs.
You can take the user accounts even farther by looking into setting up Group Policies. This allows you to set even more granular restrictions on your PC. Search Microsoft for more information.
You can also adjust you Web browser security settings. Internet Explorer allows you to assign security levels to Web sites as well as helps protect your privacy by providing features that help control a Web sites track abilities. Read the help regarding Internet Explorer Security Settings and Use Security and Privacy Features in Internet Explorer.
3) Keep track of where your kids go online.
It is not always be possible to watch while your children are surfing the Internet but it is possible to check later to see where your children have spent their time online. You can do this by reviewing the History list in Internet Explorer. Obviously more advanced kids will learn how to clear the history but there are programs out there that still keep track of where they went.
Remember that some routers even provide the ability to log websites that are visited. Check your router Administration panels for more information.
4) Remind kids not to talk to strangers online.
Real-time chats and instant messaging can be a great way for children to discuss their interests and build friendships but the anonymity of the Internet can also put children at risk of falling victim to imposters and predators. To help minimize their vulnerability, teach them to take precautions such as:
5) Set family rules for Internet use.
Although parental control software can help you protect your family from inappropriate content on the Web, there is no substitute for teaching your children a few basic rules. Talk to your children about the risks of going online, and teach them how to handle uncomfortable situations. Remind them that the being on the Internet is perfect because if they ever feel uncomfortable they can always just log out and will be safe within the security of their home. And finally, set limits, and discuss them with your children. Together, you can create a fun and safer environment for your children online.