Raising a family in the digital age is not easy. Kids sit at the computer, or what I like to call the “one-eyed” babysitter for hours at a time, surfing the Web, emailing, texting, and much more. The problem is that the one-eyed babysitter brings a whole host of dangers that children and even some parents don’t consider.
Every once in a while we read about extreme cases in which children are victims of predators on the Internet. Thankfully, those cases are extreme and rare. It’s the everyday stuff we have to worry about. Are my children putting up too much information on Facebook or mySpace? Are they talking to strangers over the Internet? Do they come across or seek out sites containing sexual material? Are they going to sites that are riddled with spyware, viruses, and malicious threats?
It’s hard because most of us can’t and don’t want to stand over our children’s shoulders and monitor every move. What we can do is arm our children with knowledge through open conversation.
Conversation and education is the first step. The next step? I use technology to help keep my family safe even when I’m not at home. In fact, technology can be an easy way to have difficult conversations. I want my kids to have the freedom to roam the Internet safely, while minimizing exposure to viruses or Web threats that could invade our home computer.
I use parental controls and security solutions to help me outline what is and is not acceptable behavior on the Internet. Because I am one of the many moms who work outside the home, I need to be assured that my kids know that I have the ability to control not only when they use the Internet, but have the power to block any websites that I deem inappropriate.
They are well aware I can easily access reports of Internet use anywhere I go – just to check to see if they were TRYING to access inappropriate websites. I don’t track their every move online, I want them to have some independence after all. Parental controls act as a safeguard and give me visibility into what’s happening when I’m away from home. That alone keeps the kids away from questionable content.
Parental and security controls are by no means a silver bullet to all our problems, but they do give me peace of mind. It’s the first step and one of the easiest ways to keep my family safe and sound.