For many parents this is a big concern. We have friends who have banned their children entirely from the internet. They are not allowed to email, search or even play on designated kid’s sites. This will definitely keep their kids safe from any harm on the web but it certainly create problems for the way that they are able to deal with the modern world.
Keeping your children safe on the internet is not a one step solution. It takes a range of strategies to ensure that they are as safe as they possibly can be online.
What parents have to realize is that there is no silver bullet,says Herbert Lin, senior scientist at the National Research Council of the National Academies, where he directed a 2002 study on protecting children from sexual exploitation and online pornography. Filtering software has certainly gotten better, but do parents rely on it too much? In my opinion, they do. A filter is brittle. Even if it stops 90 percent of the bad stuff, what
do you do about the other 10 percent? You still have to have a thorough educational process.
I use my computer nearly every day for work. But more and more my daughter was wanting to search for things online for school projects or because she had heard about a particular subject. When I wasn’t busy I would let her use my computer to google the subject that she was interested in. However I could see that this was less than ideal because I wanted to work on my computer and she wanted to explore the web.
Recently we acquired a second computer specifically for the kids. I had a number of reasons for this:
- It got them off my computer. There is no excuse for any nasty accidents happening to it.
- It protects me from getting any nasties on my computer. My kids click and click. They don’t always understand what they are clicking on they will just do it so that the computer responds in some way. They know that much. The danger of this approach is that they could just as easily click on something that will introduce something undesirable to my computer.
- It gives them the freedom to explore when they need it not when I am not busy.
- It is a desktop PC that is placed in the play area that is overlooked by the kitchen and has a constant stream of traffic past it. It has gotten them out of my office and into the open. Whatever they are doing on the web is easily visible by myself or April.
The trouble with the internet is that it is full of unknowns once your kids are out there. The question that many parents ask is what can I do about this? What do we need to protect against?
There are the obvious and not so obvious things that we all know about like:
- Online child predators
- Dangerous chatrooms
- Stealing personal information
- and so on
With my kids out their on the web I felt that I had to do some things to ensure that they were as safe as I could possibly make them without wrapping them up in a protective cocoon that didn’t allow them access to the resources and fun that they could have on the web.
The two main steps that I took were to:
- Protect them from any nasties – Install some monitoring software
- Protect the computer from any nasties – install user privileges
How I went about this I will outline in some coming posts. I will also take a look at some of the more popular software programs that are on the market ie. NetNanny and the like and see what you get for your dollar.
I actually installed a program called Naomi that has the following features:
- Heuristic analysis capable of recognizing new material automatically.
- Semantic analysis of web pages contents and analysis of their addresses and links.
- Recognizes all the major languages (10+).
- Recognizes ICRA labelling system.
- Monitoring is not limited to web sites, but covers the whole local internet traffic.
- Works with all service providers and software applications, and does not alter settings.
- Allows blocking of file-sharing applications.
- Password-protected (the password is chosen during the installation).
- Easy to use: does not require configuration.
- Can be used on slow connections (it does not perform any download in background).
And, its completely free. You cant get better value than that.
My kids are quite young and this system works just great I don’t want them to even get a glimpse of any pornography. Naomi does a great job in shutting it down very quickly. What all this means and how this compares to other commercial versions I will outline in the coming posts.
I realise that this is a bit of a diversion from the normal theme of ChrisGribble.com but I really want to be a responsible father and ensure that my children are safe. I am sure that there are plenty of other people who feel the same.