Wednesday, August 27, 2008

After-School Online Safety from InternetSafety.com: 10 ‘Home Alone’ Tips for Working Parents

BUSINESS WIRE --With the school year just starting, working parents may breathe a sigh of relief that the children are safely back in school for the next nine months, but what happens after 3 pm when the kids are home alone with unsupervised computer access? For many parents, these are the danger hours when children are most likely to visit inappropriate websites and are also most vulnerable to Internet predators. In these cases as well as when parents are home, Internet filtering software can serve as a virtual online babysitter.

InternetSafety.com, developer of the award-winning Safe Eyes parental control software (www.SafeEyes.com), recommends that parents select a software program with advanced controls and alert mechanisms for managing website access as well as social network postings, email correspondents, instant messenger usage and peer-to-peer file sharing programs. Choose a program that allows you to:

1. Block objectionable websites by category, URL and/or keyword You should be able to select which website categories will be filtered (adult, alcohol, dating/personals, drugs, gambling, hate sites, pornography, profanity, sex, violence, weapons, etc.) so that kids cant reach sites in those areas. The more categories you can dictate, the better. You should also be able to define specific websites and/or keywords that are off limits.

2. Set time limits Some programs allow you to limit time spent online, allocate specific blocks of time for Internet access, and/or grant permission to connect by the day of the week. Limiting late-night Internet use, for example, can help safeguard children against predators inclined to night-time prowling of social networking sites and chat rooms.

3. Block as well as record Instant Messenger chats You should have the option to bar children from using specific IM programs or all of them. (You might want to keep one available for communicating with your children yourself.) You should also have the option to save the full text of IM conversations for later review.

4. Block computer programs by name It can be useful to prevent access to certain games as well as peer-to-peer file sharing programs like BitTorrent that may expose children to inappropriate photos or other objectionable material.

5. Restrict email use to designated addresses There is no reason for younger children to correspond with anyone other than family members, close friends and perhaps teachers.

6. Receive email, text or phone alerts about inappropriate online behavior Some programs are able to alert parents when children attempt to access restricted websites or post personal information such as their name and address on social networks.

7. Remotely change program settings from work or elsewhere If you receive automated alerts about worrisome online behavior or concern from a caregiver, it is helpful to be able to reconfigure the program from your office or hotel room.

8. Receive automatic updates of website blacklists This eliminates the need for parents to download database updates manually, saving considerable time and ensuring that objectionable new websites dont slip through the cracks.

9. Handle multiple children with one program and customize settings for each child Your 8-year-old may need stricter controls than your 11-year-old. You should be able to create separate profiles for each child and use them on any machine in the house.

10. Control PCs and Macs with the same filtering software This simplifies the process of maintaining a safe online environment in households with computer with both operating systems.

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1 comment:

Luke said...

Filtering software is important, but another great resource is accountability software. It is a great resource for adults and families alike: something to help men and women stay away from pornographic content online and modeling accountability for their own kids. This post explains a lot of the idea behind it: http://www.covenanteyes.com/blog/2008/06/12/is-filtering-all-there-is-introducing-accountability-software/