As parents of two children, 13 years and 18 months, my wife and I worry about how our children will spend their time at our computer. When it comes to the older child, we especially worry about his access to mature adult content.
However, we don’t care for content filtering programs which has been shown to potentially block educational or family-friendly material, and which can be a chore to configure. The compromise here is to use operating system monitoring software such as Visikid so that we can watch over what sites and applications he is using.
Installation is very simple, and by default, the Visikid monitor will run on your system’s startup. Upon first run, you will be prompted to create an account on Visikid.com, which is free, but has the downside of only displaying the current day’s activities. I’d like to note here that there is a paid subscription version that lets you keep track of your child’s activities over time. This costs $39 per year, or five dollars per month.
Next, you’ll create a user profile for your kids. On Windows, you should access your child’s profile, and login to the Visikid software to create the link.
A record of any sites visited or programs that were accessed under your child’s user session will be made available for viewing that same day on your Visikid.com dashboard. Well-known desktop applications and sites are divided into categories. The option is there for assigning categories such as “education” and “communication” to unknown sites.
Graphs and charts illustrate just how much time was spent on a particular site or application. This is a very good way to make sure that your kids are concentrating on homework, and not social-networking.
Of course, there is no substitute for direct parental supervision, but if you have to leave your child’s side, say, to go make dinner or corral the toddler, then programs like Visikid can act as your third-eye when you’re not available.
Some other good safety practices for kids on the Web are as follows:
- Users of the Mozilla Firefox browser are encouraged to install my three favorite Firefox security and privacy add-ons, as well as an alternate shell like KidsMenu, which I’ve previously reviewed. Please keep in mind that for many sites with kids’ games, you may have to add them to NoScript’s white list.
- Add some bookmarks to your kid’s browser toolbar leading to approved safe sites. One of my favorites for games is Orisinal, reviewed here.
- Teach your kids to only chat with and send messages to friends and family, and not to strangers or bullies.
- Conversely, teach your kids to only accept messages from friends and family, but never to open attachments without asking a parent first.
- Can’t stress this one enough: teach your children to not give out any personal information.
Here are some other MakeUseOf posts on monitoring your children online :
Do our readers know of any similar free parental internet control apps worth looking into? How do you monitor your child’s activities and keep them safe? Give us some ideas in the comments.