There is little doubt that the Internet neighborhood can provide a rich educational and cultural experience for children of all ages and backgrounds. But would you drop your child off in a neighborhood where more than half of the buildings were adult stores, and it was potentially full of predators? Well of course you wouldn’t.
But if you let your child explore the Internet unsupervised, or without having communicated to your child information about potential on-line dangers, this is close to what you’re doing.
According to the FBI in the United States, the following are some of the most important positive actions, you as a parent, can take to reduce your child’s possible victimization on the Internet.
- Communicate, and talk to your child about potential on-line dangers.
- Spend time with your children on-line. Have them teach you about their favorite on-line destinations.
- Keep the computer in a common room in the house, not in your child’s bedroom.
- Utilize parental controls provided by your service provider and/or blocking software.
Since computer-sex offenders are a very real danger on the Internet, the FBI suggests that you instruct your children to:
- Never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they met on- line.
- Never upload (post) pictures of themselves onto the Internet or an on-line service to people they do not personally know.
- Never give out identifying information such as their name, home address, school name, or telephone number.
- Never download pictures from an unknown source; there is a good chance there could be sexually explicit images.
- Never respond to messages or bulletin board postings that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent, or harassing.
An important aspect of ensuring that your child is safe while using the Internet, (recommended by the FBI and child safety experts/organizations) is the installation of parental control software.Parental controls will provide you with the advantage of being able to:
- Block access to materials (text and pictures) identified as inappropriate for kids.
- Permit access only to materials specifically approved as safe for kids.
- Specify what types of materials are appropriate for your child.
- Monitor your child’s activity on the Internet by storing names of sites and/or snapshots of material seen by your child on the computer for you to view later.
- Set different restrictions for each family member.
- Limit results of an Internet search to content appropriate for kids.
- Enforce time limits set by parents.
A free solution, available as a download on the Internet is ParentalControl Bar, a browser toolbar which works on Internet Explorer only, despite the website claim that it works on other browsers.ParentalControl Bar is provided free of charge to the public by WRAAC.org, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing free, effective internet control tools.
ParentalControl Bar Features
This status indicator makes it easy to tell if your computer is in Child-Mode or Parent-Mode. When in Child-Mode, control features are enabled and web sites are blocked based on your parental settings. When in Parent-Mode, control features are disabled and you, the parent, have unrestricted access to the Internet.
A single password makes it easy for you, the parent, to enable or disable Child-Mode. There is a hint to help you remember your password, or if you forget it completely have it sent to a parental email address.Help Menu
Clicking this button opens the toolbar menu where parents can access tutorials, help menus or change your password.
Change Parental Settings
Clicking this button opens the parental settings menu where you can specify the types of content you wish to block your family from accessing in Child-Mode. You can also manage your personal list of ‘blocked’ and ‘child-safe’ sites from this menu.
Easily Block Adult Sites
The toolbar helps block a significant amount of adult-oriented websites. In addition, you may select specific sites to block by clicking this button. Once you have added a website to the ‘blocked sites’ list it is only accessible in Parent-Mode
When the toolbar is in Child-Mode, this parental alert blocks your child from accessing adult-oriented websites (based on your parental settings).
Add Web Site to Safe List
Clicking this button adds the website you are currently visiting to the ’safe site’ list. Once a website is added to the ’safe site’ list it can be accessed from either Child-Mode or Parent-Mode (regardless of site label).
For parents looking for a cost-effective tool to help give their children controlled freedom on the Internet, Parental Control Bar is a safe way to go.
Download at: WRAAC.org
For more information on Internet safety issues for parents and /children/teenagers, visit CNET. This site includes information on the following.
- Developing safe and smart Internet citizens
- Parents, tech outdo lawmakers on Internet safety
- Parental controls that keep tabs on young Web surfers
- User-generated videos challenge parental controls
- Growing concerns over cyber bullying
- Readers address online safety for kids