The prevalence of online predators seems to increase on a daily basis. In addition, websites are inundated with advertising. Predatory advertising on web sites can be detrimental to the well being of your child. The risks for children on the internet are immeasurable.
However, with the internet being a major source of information and entertainment, kids are going to use it. Keeping children safe on the internet requires a parent’s constant attention. This can be a daunting task. With child safety internet filters, also known as content-control software, parents have a constant partner to keep their children safe.
These software programs are available to parents who want to monitor and even filter web content that may be dangerous for children. Some of this software, like the download available at safefamilies.org, is free. Other programs, such as CYBERsitter and Net Nanny, can be purchased for around forty dollars on the internet.
The most practical form of content-control software available to parents is client side filters. These are usually installed by a parent on family computers and are protected by a password known to the administrator, usually the parents. This allows parents to designate what internet content is appropriate for their children and what content is inappropriate. Once the parameters are set, children will only be able to view approved content.
While most search engines allow filtering of searchable content, these filters do not block content on a website when the user has typed the URL, or web address, directly into the browser. This makes search engine filters relatively easy to defeat, especially for children with a little technical knowledge. There are many other methods of content blocking that are widely available.
One such method is keyword blocking. This method limits sites that contain any of the designated key words. This can be inconvenient as it tends to block sites that would be appropriate for a child just because it contains a blocked word.
Another method, protocol blocking, usually filters out certain types of internet services that are known to have a large amount of inappropriate websites. Protocol blocking is an effective way to block access to instant messaging and sites containing chat rooms. This is important for parents who are leery about allowing their children access to these services.
Parents can also utilize site blocking. Site blocking allows access to only approved sites while blocking access to sites containing inappropriate content. Site blocking can limit the amount of accessible sites, making things like research difficult for children.
User blocking assigns a specific user profile for each person on the computer or network. This is especially effective on personal networks like those found in the family home. This method is also effective in larger networks such as schools and businesses.
All of these methods have their distinct advantages and disadvantages. Choosing which child internet safety filters are best for a computer or network is an individual choice for each parent to make. The best advice is to do the necessary research. Review the different programs available on the market. Find out what type of filters are currently used in your child’s school. Using a similar method of blocking at home can ensure consistency in the content that a child is able to view.
Whatever your choice, make sure that you are limiting your children’s ability to view inappropriate websites. Protect them by filtering out services, such as chat rooms and instant messaging. If you do allow your kids access to E-mail, make sure you that you utilize spam blocking and always monitor their account for suspicious activity. A little investment of time and money can go a long way in keeping your children safe.