Tips on How To Keep Your Children Protected From the Internet
Steps to Prevent Access to Inappropriate Content on Childen’s Computers
1. Utilize Settings in the Windows Operating System
a. Create a Windows user account for each child.
i. Go to the control panel, then User Accounts.
ii. Create a new account without administrator privileges (i.e. go to Account Type and select “Standard”.
iii. Adult user accounts should have administrator privileges, administrator privileges have no restrictions. Be sure to log out of adult user account with administrator
privileges anytime they are not in use.
b. Adjust the parental controls for each child account to limit what sites can be visited.
i. Whitelist Option (Recommended) – Add specific websites to a list of Unblocked websites and limiting access to the internet to only these selected websites.
ii. Blacklist Option – Add specific websites to a list of Blocked websites while allowing full access to websites on the internet that are not on the list.
c. In Windows 8, go to Control Panel and then to “Family Safety” to get reports of your kids PC activities, choose what they see online, set time limits, Windows “app”
restrictions, and more. After creating a new child account, go to “Family Safety” and set up restrictions here.
i. On the left, click on “Rating System” to select the agency whose list of inappropriate websites will automatically be restricted using the “Family Safety” tool.
The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is recommended.
d. In earlier versions of Windows, go to Control Panel and then go to Parental Controls, this is the earlier version of Family Safety which is in Windows 8.
2. Monitor Web History in the Internet Browser
Depending on the internet browser you use (e.g. Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, etc.) or search website (e.g. www.google.com, www.bing.com, etc.), settings may be in different locations but are generally located in the browser “Settings”.
a. Go to the internet browser settings to monitor web history. This will display all the web pages that were typed into the internet browser address bar where you see
“www.google.com” or “mail.yahoo.com”.
b. Go to the internet browser settings to monitor the list of recent downloads.
c. Go to the primary search website and access the search history, this may be in the account settings identified as “Recent Activity” or available in a drop down menu of
the search bar.
Note: Children are very capable of monitoring these forms of web history and deleting what they do not want seen. But few children have the discipline to monitor this information on a routine basis so be sure to monitor this information on a routine but changing schedule.
3. Use safe email programs like Zoobuh that have functions that allow parents to restrict whom their children can contact, reduce spam, and limit unwanted emails.
4. Keep the computer in a common area of the home and limit its usage to times when adults are nearby to monitor usage.
5. Use anti-virus and/or spyware protection software to block unwanted programs or content from entering the computer. While this protection software is often free, paid services have larger databases of cataloged malware (malicious software) and more advanced software tools to block access to your computer and check for existing malware on your computer.
6. Windows and other virus protection services come with a “Firewall”, use it! A firewall is like a toll booth that monitors all of the electronic information sent from the internet to your computer. The built in Windows firewall can be accessed in the Control Panel and gives you a choice to the level of protection you want and monitors the information itself. The Windows firewall settings may be managed by a 3rd party anti-virus software like Norton or McAfee, if you are not paying for these services you may want to uninstall the 3rd party software so the Windows Firewall can be used. Having a firewall helps prevent a child from accidentally accessing or downloading inappropriate or malicious software and content.
7. A simple search using an internet search engine like Google, Bing, or other could yield explicit websites and visual content. One way to prevent this is to block these search engine websites on your child’s normal or recreational Windows user account. This may seem rather extreme due to the usefulness and educational potential of internet search engines. Another option is to have two Windows user accounts for each child, one user account for recreational use that restricts search engines and one user account for educational use that does not restrict search engines. Another option is to purchase content-filtering software.
8. Web communication applications like internet phone calls and video conference like Skype present an opportunity for children to communicate under their parent’s radar. It is the parents responsibility to monitor all forms of communication used by their children on the internet.
9. Do not forget that all of the items discussed here are applicable to mobile devices like smart phones and tablet computers. You must monitor the content on these devices as well, if not more because they can be taken anywhere (in privacy, school, a friend’s house, etc.) and be used without supervision.
10. Discuss the dangers of the internet with the child, especially those that involve direct communication via social networking sites and chatrooms. Make sure they are aware that just like in life outside of the computer, that you must never talk to strangers or accept friend requests from people you do not know while on the computer as well. When a child is checking email or any other online communication like chatrooms or social networking sites, instruct them to never click on any hyperlinks without asking an adult.
For Your Information:
1. There are content websites and smart phone apps like Pinterest, Instagram, and many other similar services that are less popular in which users post a variety of visual content matter, some of which may be inappropriate. At times it is rather easy to do a search and accidentally or intentionally result in explicit visual content. The more popular services like Pinterest have staff that actively try to prevent the use of explicit visual content.