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While the Internet may be just about the greatest invention of all time (yes, that is open to debate), it also has a darker side. While adults can dip their toe into the murkier waters as they see fit, or choose to ignore the existence of that grimy underbelly altogether, things are a little tougher for children.

There are various things parents need to be aware of if they’re going to allow their children access to the Web – adult websites, bullying, piracy, privacy, and inappropriate conversations, to name just a handful. It’s up to each individual family as to how serious they take these threats and how they deal with these dangers – if they deal with them at all.

This Week’s Question…

What Steps Do You Take To Protect Your Children Online?

Parents have various options for protecting their children online, from the very basic and unobtrusive, to the complex and creepy. Inspired by Ryan’s recent review Monitor Teenage Computer Use & Detect Inappropriate Content With Care4Teen [Windows] Monitor Teenage Computer Use & Detect Inappropriate Content With Care4Teen [Windows] As my girls grow into young teens, as a father I do tend to worry quite a bit. I worry about them when they go out to a friend's house, I worry about them when... Read More of Care4Teen, a program that monitors all online activity on a PC, I’d like to know what steps you personally take to protect your children online. If indeed you take any precautions.

If you haven’t got kids then you can still weigh in with your views on the right and wrong ways to deal with this issue. Or you can tell us what steps you foresee yourself taking if and when you do start a family.

There are also wider issues that can be discussed, such as whether children should be allowed to hold accounts on social networking sites or own webcams. Or whether you think the dangers we suppose are lurking online for anyone under a certain age are overblown by our scaremongering media.

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All comments will be digested to form conclusions in a follow-up post next week where we will detail what You Told Us. One reader will be chosen for the coveted ‘Comment Of The Week’, having their name put up in lights for all to marvel over. What more motivation than that do you need to respond?

‘We Ask You‘ is a weekly column dedicated to finding out the opinions of MakeUseOf X Seldom-known Awesome Tools To Optimize Windows X Seldom-known Awesome Tools To Optimize Windows Read More readers. The questions asked are usually open-ended and likely to start a conversation. Some are opinion-based, while others see you sharing tips and advice, or advocating tools and apps to fellow MakeUseOf Readers. This column is nothing without you, as MakeUseOf is nothing without you.

Image Credit: Andrew Stawarz

  1. Eserpess Eserpess
    October 11, 2012 at 3:03 am

    I don't have kiddies but I'm an aunty of 6 and times i have been looking after them.
    First before even introducing them to the WWW i would first educate them on the good points and bad points explain that lots of people are on here and that even though it seems grate that their are dangers.
    I would defiantly restrict access to admin approved sites only
    And enable windows parental controls as to not let any incidental pornography slip through.
    When it comes to time as long as homework is done and their in bed by a reasonable time and all computer are switch off and not in their rooms.
    I think that's everything anybody else with anything different or same?

  2. anonymus
    June 20, 2012 at 5:03 pm
  3. jay j
    June 18, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Are we taking for granted that monitoring/filtering for adults in unnecessary?

    • Dave Parrack
      June 18, 2012 at 2:27 pm

      That depends whether you support censorship or not. I'd say it's a different topic of conversation though, and part of a wider debate.

  4. Artyom
    June 17, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    At this point my son is 12 and my daughter is 8. I have given my old desktop computer to my son when he was 10, and that was the time when I first introduced him to Internet. I installed K9 protection, which does not allow my kids to visit many sites that I would not want them to visit. Until recently it also included social networking sites. Just a few months ago I allowed my son to register with one of the networking sites, but I was the one setting up his page, and making sure that all security is set up well. For now I have the password to the account, and he is allowed to log on to the social networking site only under my supervision (of course, I am teaching him does and don't as we continue and will be giving him more freedom as I feel he matures in his interaction with cyberspace, which will ultimately result in him setting up his own password and going solo :)

    And again K9 has very strict rules as far as the sites my kids can visit.

    • Dave Parrack
      June 18, 2012 at 6:31 am

      Out of interest which social networking site is it?

      • Artyom
        June 18, 2012 at 8:59 am

        Since we live in a Russian speaking country (not Russia :), I allowed him to use vk.ru (similar to facebook, but based out of Russia).

  5. ecd4a4d35dce1b96560e85a8ce64f578
    June 17, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    I switch linux distros often, use liveCD's a bit, blah blah blah. Point is my parents can't restrict me much as I always get around it.

    So here is what they do:
    Put all PC's in a room with a lock on the door.
    Put my mother's desk right behind mine. Think of it as a passive content filter. Doesn't block anything but catches everything.

    • Dave Parrack
      June 17, 2012 at 6:34 pm

      Well, that's one solution!

  6. Rene Gatdula
    June 15, 2012 at 5:19 am

    Strong parental guidance is a must...educate them..

  7. Jon Smith
    June 14, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    Just put the computer in a common and open area with the monitor facing the room

    • Dave Parrack
      June 15, 2012 at 3:04 am

      I guess that is basic rule no.1 :)

  8. Bruce
    June 14, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    PRAYER

  9. Dany Bouffard
    June 14, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    When my children were younger I was supervising them personally. I didn't let them be alone in front of their computers. like many parents do.

  10. Steven
    June 14, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Mine is similar to Harikumar:

    1) No Admin rights, I've setup an account for me as admin on their PCs. If they want to install something or connect to another wireless network, I need to know about it.
    2) OpenDNS configured at the ROUTER/DHCP level. This is important. This will guarantee any device connecting to your network will use OpenDNS. OpenDNS is configured to block the domain groups I choose.
    3) Windows Family Safety used to watch their searches, block/allow domains at the user level, control when they can use the PC.

  11. David
    June 14, 2012 at 11:28 am

    I think the most effective method we have is that the family computer is in a high traffic area, like the kitchen - no restrictions are placed, but we can keep an eye on what's going on, and deal with any issues that arise.

  12. Espen
    June 14, 2012 at 10:13 am

    I (and my siblings) started using the internet early, and my parents never installed any parental control. I turned out fine, and I don't think monitoring your children is a solution. It is better to sit down with them and show them how to browse safely. Common sense is the best weapon, and it shows you that you trust them, which is extremely important.

    • Dave Parrack
      June 15, 2012 at 3:03 am

      Common sense is a good weapon, as is responsible parenting. Did you ever come across something on the Internet you wish you hadn't?

      • Espen
        June 15, 2012 at 12:52 pm

        A few times, and understand why parents are worried. I'm sure I will be worried if I have kids. I don't think stealthy monitoring software is a good idea, but in my opinion, small children shouldn't have their own computers. Putting the computer in the kitchen or livingroom is a good compromise.

  13. Ricki Ohana
    June 14, 2012 at 10:04 am

    My children are all married BUT if I had little ones this would be my must-list;

    1- No computer in any room.
    2- Parental Controls.
    3- Yes, I would check after them. Making a point that I trust them but I don't trust the web. Better a fall-out with my child than G-d forbid loosing my child.

    The bottom line is that it's all about matter of healthy common sense. Number three being the most important one.

    • Ricki Ohana
      June 14, 2012 at 10:08 am

      *I meant 'it's all a matter of healthy common sense'. My apology.

    • Dave Parrack
      June 15, 2012 at 3:02 am

      Are you pleased you didn't have to deal with this when they were young? If I ever do have children it would worry me.

    • Jackson Chung
      June 20, 2012 at 11:39 am

      Ricki, I've just awarded you 150 points for that useful and insightful comment. Keep it up!

  14. Tom
    June 14, 2012 at 6:06 am

    Norton Online Family works great for my 11 year old and 14 year old.

  15. Arun Singh
    June 14, 2012 at 5:35 am

    Give children a standard account and then configure windows 7 built in parental to block offensive and pronography content and restrict login hours.that it this is ok

  16. Harikumar
    June 14, 2012 at 4:28 am

    I use following steps to protect my daughter

    1) No Administrative rights
    2) Install OpenDNS, configure to restrict contents and use OpenDNS as DNS server
    3) Install and use K9 Web protection

  17. Brett
    June 14, 2012 at 3:50 am

    At this point my children are 2 and 4 and do not get to go online unless I've already pulled up a specific video or photo. When my oldest is ready to use the internet, it will be with full restrictions. Anything that requires him/her to have their own log in account will be years away, maybe freshman in high school. I don't have the exact plan, but they will be introduced very slowly to the internet.

    • Dave Parrack
      June 15, 2012 at 3:00 am

      Do you think you'll be able to remain in control when the Internet is becoming so pervasive in all our lives?

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