The Best Internet Filter
Though many products have been created to protect kids from going where they shouldn’t on the Internet, none is as foolproof as a watchful parent.
Filtering software is good and should be used if parents are concerned that their children may unwittingly stumble upon an inappropriate area of the Internet, but to rely on them solely is asking for trouble. Though many try to upgrade frequently, the rate at which unscrupulous Web masters find ways around those filters is troubling.
The reason some parents are disinterested in monitoring their child’s computer time on the Web is that they don’t understand what is accessible. The Internet has everything on it that a basic large city has. It has places of higher learning, art and culture. There are places for entertainment and relaxation. There are also places where hate groups flourish, pornography is visible, and people who prey on children lurk. Parents wouldn’t think of dropping their children off in the middle of a large city and telling them to do what they wanted until they returned.
Since similar things can happen in cyberspace, they shouldn’t drop their kids off unattended there, either. For this reason, Internet access should be shut off whenever parents are gone. Use a password to protect the family computer and keep it in a place your kids can’t find. Having a separate Internet number with the option to call and see if it is busy while you are gone is another way to ensure that the system is off.
Children should never have access to the Internet from the computers in their rooms. They can still do all of their schoolwork on an unconnected system or if they need to get on the Internet, they can do so from a computer in a common area. To see where their most recent visits have been, you can check the browser by pulling down the URL (Web address) bar.
Try to become familiar with current Internet lingo. If your children use a term you don’t recognize, ask them to define it for you, then go to the Internet yourself, type the term into a search engine, and see if what you find reflects that definition. Spend time with your children on the Internet. In this way, you can show them sites you would like them to avoid, and things about the listings you object to, that should warn them not to enter sites using similar terms.
Since the Internet is everywhere, make sure you know a parent’s practice on Internet use before you let your child spend time at another home. In public libraries, where filters are rarely used, librarians try to monitor children using the Internet, or forbid those under a certain age to use it without parents. However, they are often very busy and can’t be expected to keep a dedicated eye on the computers, so plan your trips to the library accordingly.
The amount of danger present on the Internet has caused some parents to forbid it altogether, although with schools, other families and libraries hooked up, it’s nearly impossible. The problem with this is that the Internet also has a lot of mediocre sites and some that are truly wonderful. In addition, the Internet has become a place for online marketing for corporations of all sizes and a place to research. If your children don’t get comfortable with it when they’re young, their future will be a little more difficult in a workplace that is increasingly linked to the Web.
Start now, be diligent and watchful, and soon your kids will be able to tell you which parts of the Internet are good and which places they should avoid.