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Some Things You Can Do to Protect Your Child Online and Help Them Surf Safer on the Internet

Posted 31 Aug-2020 12:31 PM by Alan | 739

Blocking, filtering, and monitoring. These are 3 things you can do to get a head start. Educating your child of the dangers online also helps.

There are many tools available to help parents control and monitor where their children surf online. Some even help regulate how much time a child spends playing computer games, or prevent their accessing the Internet during certain preset times.

I've listed the type of protections that are available. But, most of the popular brands now offer all of these features, so you don't have to choose. Recently, given parents' concerns about strangers communicating with their children online, monitoring software has gained in popularity. Although it might have its place in protecting a troubled child, it feels more like "spyware" than child protection. But it's ultimately your choice as a parent. The newest trend is to use products supplied by your ISP called parental controls. AOL's parental controls were the first of these to be developed and used. MSN 8.0 launched the first set of parental controls for MSN.

Blocking Software

Blocking software is software that uses a "bad site" list. It blocks access to sites on that list. They may also have a "good site" list, which prevents your child from accessing any site not on that list of Latest Blocking Software. Some of the software companies allow you to customize the lists, by adding or removing sites from the lists. I recommend you only consider software that allows you to customize the list, and lets you know which sites are on the lists.


Filtering software uses certain keywords to block sites or sections of sites on-the-fly. Since there is no way any product can keep up with all the sites online, this can help block all the sites which haven't yet been reviewed. The software blocks sites containing these keywords, alone or in context with other Long Tail keywords. Some companies allow you to select certain types of sites to block, such as those relating to sex, drugs, or hate. This feature engages special lists of keywords that match that category. As with the "bad site" lists, the lists of keywords used by the filtering software should be customizable by the parent, and every parent should be able to see which terms are filtered.

Outgoing Filtering

No...this doesn't mean your software had a sparkling personality :-) (that's cyberspace talk for "grin" and means you're supposed to smile at my brilliant humor. It means that your child won't be able to share certain personal information with others online. Information such as your child's name, address or telephone number can be programmed into the software, and every time they try to send it to someone online, it merely shows up as Even with kids who know and follow your rules, this is a terrific feature since sometimes, even the most well-intentioned kids forget the rules.

Monitoring and Tracking

Some software allows parents to track where their children go online, how much time they spend online, how much time they spend on the computer (such as when they are playing games), and even allows parents to control what times of day their children can use the computer. This is particularly helpful when both parents are working outside of the home, or with working single-parents, who want to make sure their children aren't spending all of their time on the computer. Many parents who don't like the thought of filtering or blocking, especially with older children and teens, find monitoring and tracking satisfy their safety concerns. They can know, for sure, whether their children are following their rules.

We particularly recommend using monitoring software and then forgetting it's installed. Think of it as the security video camera in the corner of the bank. No one views the tapes until the bank is robbed. If something bad happens, you can playback the monitoring log and see exactly what occurred, and who said what, and in dire situations, where your child went to meet an adult offline. There is a company out there, their products can monitor all instant messaging platforms, which is key to keeping your children safe online.

Parents have to remember, though, that these tools are not cyber-babysitters. They are just another safety tool, like a seat belt or Child Safety Caps. They are not a substitute for good parenting. You have to teach your children to be aware and careful in cyberspace. Even if you use every technology protection available, unless your children know what to expect and how to react when they run into something undesirable online, they are at risk. Arming them well means teaching them well.

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