The Internet and the information contained within can be essential to your children’s education and entertainment. By typing a few words and some quick mouse clicks, your children have access to the world. But also contained within this information super highway are dangers and risks that can pose a threat to you and your family.
Following is a guide that will show you how to make the Internet safer for your family. It will provide helpful information and tools that are designed to minimize risks associated with the Internet that you can use to ensure your family is protected from danger when accessing the Internet.
• What do children use the Internet for?
The Internet is an amazing tool that can be used by children of all ages. Preschoolers can access early-learning games to favorite children’s shows, school aged children may look up information relating to school and use it to socialize with friends. Teenagers will use the Internet for education and communication but will also begin to be interested in other subjects that may be inappropriate.
• Where can my children access the Internet?
Children have access to the Internet from many locations as it’s become an essential tool in this modern era. Schools, libraries, friends’ homes and even shopping centers have computers available to access.
Some modern cell phones also have access to the Internet that can allow those who do to use a computer at any time.
• Why children need to be protected.
Even if your child is using the Internet appropriately, many can become exposed to threats that can endanger your home computer and your children. Some of these threats are listed below.
• Information Inappropriate for age of child
Not only can your children easily access pornography, but they can also reach information that may be hateful or violent no matter how innocent their search. They may also access graphic photos that may not be appropriate for their needs.
• Physical Dangers of the Internet
Pedophiles, rapists and other predators of children access the Internet to seek their victims. They can use fake identities and lie about their age to seek a friendship with your children. These are most often performed in “chat groups” which are groups on the Internet for people who may be like-minded in a hobby, social networking sites such as Myspace or even through MSN messenger.
Just like “stranger danger” in real life, the rules need to be applied on the Internet too. Advise your children to not give out their name, age, school name or address to anyone they do not know.
• Excessive and unwanted advertising
Just by clicking on a website, your child may be exposed to unwanted advertising that is designed to seek our attention. This marketing material can be used to deceive children as they may require a parent’s credit card for access.
Spam is junk mail’ but is designed for the Internet. Anyone who has an email address used to communicate can become a victim of Spam unless you have security measures in place. Spam can be a nuisance at any time but also has the ability to infect your computer with virus.
• Computer virus
Through email, Spam information or software downloads available on the Internet; your child may unwittingly download a virus into your computer. A virus is designed to remove data from a computer, interrupt the operation of the computer and can be spread if sent on to friends and family.
• Social Networking
If you have an email address you can also have access to any number of the social networking sites available on the Internet. This may be Facebook or Myspace, or even MSN Messenger. These websites do have age limits placed on users but children can easily deceive them for access.
• Ways parents can protect their children.
Below are some ways you can begin protecting your children immediately to ensure they’re safe from any of the dangers listed above.
• Placement of Family computer
Have your family computer situated in an area of the home where everyone may see what is on the computer screen at all times.
Supervise at all times what your children are browsing on the Internet and make sure you’re there to help and guide their computer use.
Educate your children on the dangers they may be exposed to when searching or using the Internet. Explain how a virus may be downloaded, how that their information can be accessible on the Internet and also safe ways of browsing.
Children should be taught to never open emails or attachments if they do not know whom the sender is
• Change Security settings on your computer
When you have opened your Internet browser, which is the page that your Internet opens to, go to the top of your page and find the button marked “tools.” Move to the bottom and select “Internet Options.” When you have opened this page, check that your security’ settings are set at a level that will not allow your children to access inappropriate information.
• Parental browser monitoring
Parents must also check the “history” in the computer browser (where the website address is at the top of the page) and always ensure your children are visiting appropriate and safe websites. You can do this by clicking on the arrow near and to the right of your browser and a list of web addresses will be displayed.
You may also change the search engine’ such as Google or Ask.com that allow us to access information from the Internet that is family friendly. A search engine will categorize information entered and then display what it has been asked. Family friendly search engines include “Ask for kids” or “Yahoo kids.”
• Computer software used for family security.
There is plenty of help available to parents to increase security on the family computer so children won’t be exposed or threatened by the dangers above.
• Parental Monitoring software
The most highly recommended filter and parental control available is Net Nanny. This also has the ability to provide a report to parents on which websites your children are accessing and can also allow a parent to see what your children are typing to friends in email and chat when on the Internet.
One parental control program available for free is “KGB Key Logger.” This can allow parents to see what children may be typing and also the content of websites they may be visiting. The free version provides a report but has fewer abilities than the paid version.
Both of the above programs are very easy to install and use and are also discreet.
• Pop Ups and Filter blockers
Pop ups are small screens that advertise products or websites when your browsing the Internet. Using your “tool” button above your web browser, always make sure your pop up blocker is on to avoid these. Clicking on “tools” and then “Internet Options” you can also change filters to ensure your computer cannot access sites that may have inappropriate content.
Although the Internet has much useful information and excellent abilities, it also has many hidden risks that can be dangerous to your children. Use the above guide to ensure your family is protected from any dangers they may be exposed to on the Internet.