The Information Age has certainly given rise to different ways of doing things. These days, you can find more effective ways of doing your work at home, in the office or at school with one click of a button. Parents, in particular, have definitely benefited from the widespread availability of expert information about how to be better parents on the Internet.
Unfortunately, while the Internet can certainly be helpful to a parent in terms of things like finding the right school or the right medical specialist for their child, its darker side can also present a great deal of potential dangers for kids. The presence of mushrooming pornographic websites, anonymous chat rooms (where adults can approach underage minors inappropriately and be largely undetected), and cyber bullies have robbed many a child of his or her innocence and have caused parents more than a few sleepless nights.
Fortunately, there are some options that parents can avail of to protect their children from the ever present dangers on the Internet. These include:
1.) Physically monitoring their child’s Internet activity. Some parents can restrict Internet access to a family computer in the living room or any other common area in the house so that they can keep an eye on their kids using the Internet. There are also some parents who only allow their children to use the Internet on their computers or laptops so that they can better monitor their browser history. While these measures are proactive and can indeed be effective with much younger children, parents cannot always be at home to supervise their kids. Also, teenagers and adolescents will resent such an intrusion on their privacy and will interpret such actions as a lack of trust.
2.) Hardware-based Parental Controls. You can actually purchase physical Internet routers and firewalls that will filter out websites that are not family-friendly based on some set criteria. These hardware-based controls are really effective for filtering the sort of content that’s accessed by all the Internet-ready gadgets in the house. However, one downside of this option is that the hardware can be difficult to configure for each Internet user in the house. As a result, adults and children alike will be unable to access websites with restricted content (e.g., crude language, controversial material, etc.).
3.) Parental Control Software. These are keylogger applications that can be installed remotely on all the Internet-ready devices in the house. Unlike the hardware-based tools, parental control software is easier to configure so you can block your child’s access to certain websites and still retain your access to the same. In addition to this parental control software also has the added benefits of allowing you to monitor your child’s online activities from afar and to record any suspicious chat transcripts in case you might need them as evidence for filing complaints against bullies or predators.
A keylogger software is widely considered to be the most convenient among all the options as it can also be accessed via a mobile device and is largely discreet and undetectable when installed.