Think you don’t need parental controls on your kiddos computer? Think again.
I’m revisiting this subject after recently checking the browsing history of my 15 year old son. So yesterday, a better part of the day was spent researching the latest and greatest the market has to offer for parental controls. This time I am happy report that I have found one I can recommend and it’s free! We have only been using it for a couple days, so I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. So after checking a few programs out my pick is Norton Online Family, a division of Norton.
I will mention 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 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 here is why I like Norton:
- 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 spies 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 of 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 an error in typing 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 good place to start.
The other thing worth considering is the individuality of each child. The age at which each child is ready for general adult material will vary greatly. When considering movies for our child, my husband and I believe that we should be the ones to choose what our child sees and not necessarily the motion picture association. We consider the message of the movie, our personal beliefs and the impact it will have on him before deciding on a questionable movie. We try to have discussions around these movies as well.
So for all you parents of teens and tweens! Share this message with other parents and most important TALK to your kids!