So you just bought a computer to help your children do their homework etc.. But maybe you are a bit worried. The Internet is a wonderful place with lots of information available from all over the world but, like any ‘community’, has its darker side. Hate mail, racist speeches, pornographic material, bomb and drug formulas, and other sensitive and inappropriate information is being sent right into our homes along with everything else. How do you keep this information away from your children?
Your children probably know more about the Internet than you do, having learnt about it at school. How do you block unwanted chat rooms, newsgroups, and of course websites?
Our first suggestion is a simple but effective one. Don’t hide the computer away in your children’s bedroom. Put it in a public part of the house if possible. Also try to share the Internet with your children. There are many suggestions for parents to work with their children at various places on the Internet.
Also educate your children to use the Internet safely. Make sure they never give out personal information or arrange to meet anyone they meet online. Friends off the Internet are still strangers and may not be who they claim to be, even if they have been communicating with them for years.
A good guide is at : http://www.netnanny.com/
Here you will find a parents’ corner and guides to sharing the Internet with your children.
You will also notice their software program for sale, or to download on a trial basis. Net Nanny is probably the most well-known Internet filtering program and one that is trusted by many schools. If you don’t mind spending a few pounds to protect your children it may be worth the investment.
But read on before you decide.
There are free web filtering programs available. These may not be as effective or as comprehensive as Net Nanny but may be worth looking at.
http://www.familycow.com/ is a good place to start for free internet filtering software. It also has guides for TV and video screening as well as lots of other family orientated information.
However, there are still harmful newsgroups and emails that may cause you problems. We would suggest reading the user manual or help screens of your email/news reader. Set up an administrator and separate log ons for your children. It will mean putting in a password every time you launch your program but it means you can remove some administration options from your children. This means they will not be able to add newsgroups without your knowledge.
If your child asks to subscribe to a newsgroup we would suggest monitoring them yourself first. Some innocent-sounding newsgroups can contain inappropriate material. I, personally have only let my son subscribe to one newsgroup - one that was moderated by adults for children. I still kept an eye on it myself though.
As for email - while your children might complain about their privacy we would recommend that you set up the email program to copy their incoming emails to your mailbox too. That way you can see if anything arrives that you don’t like. However if you educate your children in sensible use of the Internet this may not be necessary.
blueyonder recommends Cyber Patrol. There is some information on the blueyonder web pages : security and blueyonder pcguard
“Many parents are concerned about what their children are exposed to when they access the Internet, but with some common sense tips and advice your whole family can be fully protected whilst they enjoy their online experience.
We recommend a product called Cyber Patrol, which will block unsavoury content from being viewed while you are online, and in this section of the site we offer you an opportunity to download a demonstration version of it, and apply for a license to purchase the product online.”
Please don’t be too alarmed. All children are curious and want to explore the world wide web. They will probably be more interested in games cheat pages and pictures of their favourite sports or pop stars than anything else. However if you teach your children to be responsible with what they are looking at then all of these Net Nanny type precautions will be just a precaution and not a necessity.
Enjoy the Internet - and help your children to enjoy it too!!!!
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