Two types of parental controls that parents often implement as a part of their overall internet safety plan are controls provided by your service provider and blocking software.
High speed Internet providers usually have free or low cost parental control features that parents can use to monitor websites, filter e-mails, and limit the distribution of other online content. Some parents purchase additional blocking software, which has such added features as the ability to monitor or block chats, peer-to-peer interactions, and instant messaging, which according the the FBI, is one of the top places sexual predators use to locate vulnerable children online. Some of them also offer remote reporting, such as alerts and log reports sent to email or cell phone, as well as history reporting, and logging of security violations.
If your household has more than one computer, and they are networked, or if you have a fast Internet connection, you may want to consider using a router-based filter. A router is a piece of equipment that connects your computers to the Internet and to each other. Some routers offer an ability to filter content that affects all computers in your network. This method is harder to bypass, but it tends to be pricier, since you have to purchase the router, and pay an annual fee to subscribe.
Again, don't rely on the technology to do your parenting for you. According to the FBI's Parent's Guide to Internet Safety, "you should always maintain access to your child's online accounts and randomly check his or her email." Also be aware that your child could be contacted through the U.S. Postal Service.
Lest I leave you with a feeling of dread regarding your children and the internet, keep in mind that there is a lot of family-friendly content out there. Todays-Learners has a good little family-friendly electronic medial guide that will help you and your family keep the fun in your online experiences.
Filtering is a great tool, but it's not the only kind of software out there. Have you ever heard of accountability software? Accountability software is specifically for adults who want to guard where they go online without any blocking or filtering. Combined with filtering, it's a great Internet safety solution for the whole family. If you want more info about it check out my post “Is Filtering All There Is?” - http://www.covenanteyes.com/blog/2008/06/12/is-filtering-all-there-is-introducing-accountability-software/
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I think parents definitely need to be Internet-wise today. I have both a monitoring program (used mostly by families who want accountability for their internet viewing) and a filtering program (used mostly by families who want to put a time limit/block on Internet usage). They are very simple with options that allow a parent to select how much control they want over their child's computer. For more information check out the site: www.internettimer.net
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