Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Please, protect our kids! Red Flags and Parental Control Software: Part 4

To help control how your child surfs the net, I discuss the various controls you can use at the end of the article. Parental control software is just a small part of the equation and can go only so far. The real first line of defense is the parent.
So, while preventive steps like software can reduce the risks, they can’t eliminate
them completely. So watch for red flags of behavior first, and then install software to increase safety.

- Is your child minimizing or changing a browser window when ever you walk into the

- Are they using instant message lingo like “POS” (parent over shoulder)?

- Are they getting phone calls from people you don’t know or wearing new clothes?
These can be gifts from a predator.

- Is your child reluctant to logon or go to school? Those could be signs they are being

If you think there is a problem you need to report it. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children runs a hot line, both on the Web at and the telephone at 800-843-5678. They will review your report and forward it to the proper authorities. Also let your ISP know, They face stiff fines for not reporting child pornography.

But most important of all you want to educate yourself and your child on the risks that
exist online. The Internet is a great thing, but it is also dangerous - like a swimming
pool. Do you want fences? Sure. Do you want to have locks? Yes you do. Do you
want to have laws? Yes. But the safest child is the one who knows how to swim.

First, I would like to repeat, that the software is no replacement for real parental control where you keep an eye over the child’s shoulder and keep watch for warning

Now, if you do a Google search for parental control software you will notice that there is no shortage of offers, but what features do you really need? The most important items to watch/monitor/block are website, email, instant messaging and downloads. Basically what you want to do is track everything they do or say on the computer or online. Every message they sent, every website visited and you want to control when they can be online to send those messages.

This might sound like a lot but it is actually pretty basic and has been around for
awhile. Spouses have been using it to catch each other for years it’s just been
repackaged and you can get pretty descent software for under $100 bucks. On the
other hand if you’re really into it you can spend thousands.
Despite all the extra fluff there are 5 basic features you want:

Content Control - Flexible "Internet Filtering" allows you to select the types of
website that are appropriate.
2. Program Control - Control Instant Messengers, P2P File Sharing, and other
harmful programs.
3. Time Control - Control the amount of time spent online, and the times when the
Internet is available.
4. Usage Logging - Create and review logs of website visited, programs used on
the Internet, and Instant Messaging Chats.
5. Usage Alerts - Be notified (some have instant) via email, text message, or
phone call when someone visits inappropriate website.

This is a good time to bring up another issue, how do you feel about spying on your
kid? How would (did) you feel when mom went through your sock drawer? It brings
us around to the new social engineering and the availability of threats. Our kids today
have an access that we didn’t. When I was 13 to get in trouble I had to at least leave
the house. With email and instant messaging our kids don’t even have to do that,
so I guess it is a conscience call. Me, I would rather have a mad child then a
picture on a milk carton.

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Posted by Lone Bird Studio Ltd. @ 3:49 PM

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