Once again I’m revisiting this subject after checking the browsing history of my 15 year old son. So yesterday, a better part of the day was spent researching and reading about the latest and greatest the market has to offer. This time I am happy report that I have found a one line solution and it’s free! We have only been using it for a couple days, so I’ll keep posted on how it goes.
Let me say also, that most teenagers can get around parental controls with out much effort, but this program sends me an email to let me know when that occurs. I also want to say upfront that communication with your kiddo around this issue is equally important. I’m also including some tips on how you can protect your child and help them make the right choices when it comes to surfing the web. So after checking a few programs out my pick is Norton Online Family, a division of Norton.
Here is why I like it:
- It was super easy to set up and use…and it’s free!
- It has time controls as well as content and social media controls. We can block gaming sites (which usually lead to viruses on your computer), porn sites, sites with violence.
- It sends me an email message when ever he attempts to go on to a site that we have blocked, when he tries to stay on past the allowed time at night, or if he messes with the settings.
- It monitors social media and will tell me if he is providing accurate age information and who he’s chatting with online.
Now I’m not the type of parent that spy’s on her child. I respect his privacy and like to think I have raised a teenager that makes good choices and is responsible…and in most cases that is correct. But I will admit I really had my head in the sand on this one. With Iphones, Ipods, laptops and other hand held devices our children are plugged in 24/7 and we as parents have absolutely no control over what they see. They are being solicited every day by perpetrators trying to get them to click on porn sites, game sites and other garbage. So I will say this to all parents of teenagers….as a parent it is your responsibility to protect your child and monitor what they are doing and seeing on the computer. Believe me, there is a world shit out there that you do not want them exposed to. It angers me to no end that someone can come into your home and expose your child to things you would never let them see.
So here are some other ways you can make sure your child’s computer time is productive and positive:
- Talk to you kids about what’s on the internet. Explain to them how browsers work and how a mistyped word can bring up a whole slew of websites that have absolutely nothing to do with what they were trying to find.
- Let them know they should never click on a email or link if they don’t know who it is. Show them how to block these people from IM or email.
- Have the computer in a family room where you can see what they are viewing. Letting a child have a computer in their room with hours of unsupervised time is just asking for trouble.
- Check their browser history. You may be surprised or even shocked by this. Many kids know how to clear the history, which should tell you something as well.
- Allow limited time on the computer. The parental control software can help with this.
- Let them know your putting the parental controls on the computer and agree on the sites they can view. My child likes Deviant Art. I added this URL to the exception list. This may have been blocked as there is some nudity, in the form of art, on the site. I’m OK with this because of the age of my kiddo and the fact that he gets lots of inspiration from other artist here.
- Check out the sites your child is viewing and communicate with them about the content. Norton has a rating system on their site. You put in the URL and it rates the site. I haven’t used it much, but it seems like a great idea.
So the blog below went over a few different packages that I didn’t care for as well as how to be smart in your shopping. Did you know that often time review companies that present them selves as non biased are actually one of the companies that is being reviewed?
Anyone out there who has children, especially teen-agers, will understand the need for parental control software. Even if your not concerned about your kiddo going to the Ã¢â‚¬Å“naughtyÃ¢â‚¬Â sites, there are many other sites out there that will fill your computer with viruses and turn your child into an online addict.
After our last visit to the computer doctor to fix our childs machine we decided we were done policing and arguing and decided to investigate parental control software.
What we were looking for-
Because we home school, our child is on the computer much of the day. We were not as concerned about him viewing inappropriate sites, but we were fed up with trying to constantly look over his shoulder to see if he was staying on track with school. As well, we wanted to limit his overall computer time with out having to police it. Lastly, we wanted to keep him off gaming sites and other sites that are notorious for malware and viruses.
What we found –
My initial search brought me to a site called Well-Researched Reviews. It supposedly provides unbiased reviews for various types of software. They recommended a program called Web-Watcher, which was the most expensive one listed on the site. The email I received from the customer support seemed a little fishy, so I continued my research and discovered that the Web-watcher software was most likely a scam. They charge you for the initial software, then keep charging you for upgrades, threatening to take away your access if you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t pay. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s likely the well -researched reviews site is owned by the same makers of the software. After doing a bit a reading, I discovered that many of the parental control software companies are actually scams, some even getting your log on and password information to various sites, including bank accounts and using this information to with draw money. I decided on a giving Web Nanny a shot, which I found on www.cnet.com, a good place to find legitimate, unbiased reviews.
Web Nanny has the ability to do everything I was looking for plus the following features: Profanity masking, Social Network Monitoring, Proxy filtering, URL blocking plus provides you with detailed reports on your kiddoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Google Searches and usage. I am in the process of setting it up and I think it will make our life as parents much easier. Web Nanny also has developed software to for hand held devices such as smart phones. I will report back in a month or so with an update and let you know if we are happy with the features.
As a parent I think technology has made our job a lot harder. I honestly hate all the hand held devices and canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t believe the number of parents I know that donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t monitor or restrict the time their kids are Ã¢â‚¬Å“plugged inÃ¢â‚¬Â. We have no idea what our kids are encountering on-line and with so many ways to access the internet, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s nearly impossible to shield them from a world that they are possibly not ready for.