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Parental Controls and the Internet


The recent growth of online predators and fraudulent activities justifies the need to monitor children’s Internet usage. Two distinct methods for monitoring children’s Internet activity are parental controls and home usage guidelines. Parental controls include tools that can block certain web sites (x-rated, discriminatory, etc.), limit Internet access time, and filter out explicit words, etc. Home usage guidelines provide parents additional Internet safety tips that can be implemented at home by surfing alongside their children. Working simultaneously these controls become a wall of defense against naturally curious children and prevent accidental viewing of inappropriate web site content.

A parental control is a program that is installed on your computer that can prevent
inappropriate web site content. When activated, the program can block any URL’s you specify, inappropriate search words, and URL’s that contain discriminatory and explicit content. The program also lets the administrator block out specific time frames for Internet usage. Children are less likely to accidentally view an inappropriate web site when the parental control is activated. If you choose to not activate the parental controls that are installed, there are many on-line companies that offer a similar service. A good place to start looking for additional parental controls is GetNetWise.Org.

Home usage guidelines allow parents to monitor what their child is viewing in addition to installing parental controls. The guidelines provide an interactive relationship between the parent and the child by physically changing the surfing environment. Some examples of physically changing the surfing environment are below:

Placing the computer in a high traffic area discourages a child from doing something they are not allowed to do (i.e. surf on an inappropriate web site). Also, it provides you the opportunity to intervene when you notice inappropriate web content that could negatively impact the child.

Be involved in your children’s online activity by choosing items you can work on together (play a game, research a specific topic, download pictures). This allows for supervision of your child's online activities and teaches them good computer habits. Good computer habits will teach children responsibility and they will become conscious of the sites they visit.

 

Remember to set rules and warn about dangers when using the Internet, this will help the child understand what types of websites are considered acceptable to view. Set boundaries for the Internet, such as time limits, age restrictions, and whom they can speak to (chat rooms), etc. Speak to your children about the dangers the Internet presents so they can recognize suspicious behavior or activity. Your goal is to make children become aware of what is posted on the Internet, not scare them.

 

Keep an open communication path so your child knows that they can approach you with any questions or concerns about problems they have encountered on the computer. An open communication will lead to a healthy Internet experience.

Parental controls and home usage guidelines are tips that can be adjusted to fit the parent’s requirements for Internet monitoring. More information on this topic can be located at NJ Info Secure by clicking on one of the links in the Parents Resources section.