Parental Controls Series – Making Your Kids Safe Online

Last week I brought up some issues around Facebook and how parents need to take an active role in managing their online safety as well as in education around the dangers of not only social media but the web and internet in general. Heck, while you are at it, you might as well go down the path of discussing the dangers of texting and bullying via technology.

As my life revolves around technology and parenting, I often come across these odd areas where while one is better than the other, the other one seems to win out. And it can be frustrating when both of these seem to collide and you have to make a decision that is sometimes against your better judgment.

For example, I have implemented pretty strict parental controls on all of the computers in our household because of my need to protect, via technology, my 7, 10 and 12 year olds as they look for the latest Annoying Orange or Kitty Walking on a Keyboard videos on YouTube. The protections that I implemented a few years ago when then were even younger, were great back then, but didn’t grow as they grew.

My 12 (almost 13 year old) now uses a netbook regularly for her schoolwork. I have set up “named” accounts on each of the computers around the house, Mac or PC, and they each have different levels of protection. So, when I set up my 12 year old’s account a few years ago, I set it up pretty strict, limiting times and the types of sites she could visit.

Fast forward a few years and she now needs to be on sites that she previously couldn’t be on. She had grown but her controls hadn’t. So, I had to tweak her settings to make them match her level of understanding of topics and dangers that exist on the ‘Net.

The points here are:

  1. You need to set up Parental Controls appropriate to the age of the child
  2. You need to regularly update and audit the Parental Control sets
  3. You need to have ongoing discussions about their online activities and what is considered good or not

And the first 2 points assume that you have already set up Parental Controls on each of the devices that your kids might be using.

Wait, you haven’t set up Parental Controls yet? Why not?

For those of you who have already set up those controls and regularly work with your kids about what is appropriate or not to say or do on the Internet – I commend you! Good job!

For those of you have not taking any actions to protect your kids online or on other digital devices or who haven’t done it yet, we need to talk. This week, as a primer, I’m going to write a series of posts exploring different ways that you can set up parental controls within your home. This will not be a detailed series, but rather an introduction to free and a couple commercial parental control options available on the Mac and PC, and then how to use protection by other vendors as well as other devices to think about. So for those of you dragging your feet around setting up security for your kids on the computers around the home, this series is for you!

Basically the series maps out as such:

Hopefully by the end of this week, you will be using Parental Controls and policing and working with your kids a bit more closely than you are now as they navigate the uncharted and dangerous waters of the Internet. If you have any questions or recommendations on how you protect your kids online, be sure to leave a comment.

Up next – Free Parental Controls for the Mac.

Read more of Michael’s writing at HighTechDad.com.
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