How to Keep Your Kids Safe on the Internet

by Phyllis Wheeler

Are you wondering how to make the for your ? You want them to use the for research, but you don’t want them to find objectionable sites or emails.

Perhaps you’d like to buy a solution that you can use on your computer that will not allow them to look at objectionable sites, yet will allow them to freely browse.

I have to tell you that there is no solution like that. These filter programs, such as NetNanny, look for a list of objectionable words in the site your child has chosen to visit. words such as “leg” can raise the alarm and cause a headache, while regular research on breast cancer might be blocked.

But these word-blocking solutions are no good at all at blocking objectionable photo sites that have no objectionable words attached. Ask me how I know? My teenage son figured it out. He just went to Google Images and started looking. Your son could do that too. And the objectionable sites he found weren’t blocked by NetNanny, which was turned on.

The software could not have detected the objectionable photos, since NetNanny and similar software look for objectionable words. They are not able to evaluate pictures.

So, what can you as a parent do?

*The computer should be where you can monitor what the kidsa re doing. They should be where YOU are.

*Have a login password that only the adults know. The kid has to have permission, and oversight, to use the computer.

*Insist that your kids log off when they finish. As a result, they will need an adult to input the password the next time they want on.

*Use a filter like NetNanny. It will help when your back is turned.

*Make sure the kids know your expectations and the consequences for disobeying.

*If a child is just using a word processor or some other local program, disconnect the Internet cable.

*Require younger children to use your email address. This will allow you to protect them from vicious spam. As they get older, give teens their own email address, but make sure they give it out only to friends.

If you take these measures and are watchful, you will help your teenagers withstand a temptation that is everywhere on the Internet, and get them into the habit of making good choices when sitting down to use the computer.

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