Protecting Your Kids Online
My children have been around computers since birth and my daughter received her first real computer at 3-years-old. It wasn’t a new laptop but one we picked up from a corporate sell. She doesn’t really use it much and prefers mommy or daddy’s laptop over her own. But when she does use the computer I’m usually right beside her and we’ll get on Disney.com, Nickelodeon or Sprout, watch movies or play games.
She knows her way around a computer simply because she’s growing up with a set of parents that work online. Right now I’m not concerned with parental controls simply because we are on the computer with her, but in the next couple of years she’ll be allowed to explore.
I asked parents on twitter when their kids were allowed to use the computer and discovered that most have been introduced to the computer at about three years of age.
So what can you do to protect your kids?
If you’re concerned about what your kids – especially elementary school kids – see when they are online there are parental control tools that can help protect them.
Filtering and blocking
Filter and blocking tools limit access to certain sites, words, or images. Some products decide what’s filtered and others leave it up to the parents. Be sure to shop around and research to find the best tool for your situation.
Blocking outgoing content
This is one of my favorites. This software prevents kids from sharing personal information online, in chat rooms or via email. So you can monitor what they are sharing without standing over their shoulder.
On average, young children should spend less than 3 hours online. This type of software allows you to limit your kid’s time online and set the time of day they can access the internet.
Browsers for kids
Consider installing a browser designed for kids that will automatically filter words or images deemed inappropriate for kids.
Kid-oriented search engines
Search engines designed for kids is another great option by limiting search results for sites and material appropriate for kids.
What if you don’t want to block access to the internet? Then check out some of the latest monitoring software. These programs alert parents to online activity, some record the addressees of websites a child has visited and others provide warning messages when a kid visits a certain site. Monitor tools can be used with or without a kid’s knowledge.
There are some great tools online about how to protect your kids and teach them online safety. Keep in mind that while parental controls work well for young children, teens who’ve been online for years won’t have difficulty working around them or simply just finding a different computer to use. The best way to protect your kids is to keep an open line of communication and explain the what to do and what not to do’s on the internet.
Do your kids own a computer; at what age did you let them get online?
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