Keeping your family safe online is a huge topic of discussion and concern for people today. I hear every day of families who are distraught, trying to keep their children safe from the uncontrollable Internet. The statistics of children viewing porn and graphic content at younger and younger ages is staggering, even among Christian families. No one is safe from it. As a parent, I don’t want to see it either, it is annoying, frustrating and shocking. One wrong click of the mouse and your child’s innocence can be lost forever. How are we to keep this unwanted content out of our homes? There are a number of things you can do to keep the Internet in check.
1) Set up parental parameters: Devices your children use such as the Wii, XBox, Nook, the Kindle and hand held game systems have improved internet safety software to keep children from viewing inappropriate content. Set up a parental login and get started. Check regularly to see what your children are viewing and downloading online on each system. If you don’t know how to set up your device, call technical support and have them help you set it up over the phone.
2) Set Up Cell Phone Blocking. Did you know you can pay a few extra dollars per month to your cell phone provider to block inappropriate content on all the phones on your plan? We use AT &T, they only charge $4.99 per month for this service. Click here to find out more information. You can set up time usage limits, text limits, and even block specific numbers. This is money well spent for a bit of peace of mind. Blocking cannot stop all phone to phone content transfer, however. Be aware that if your child gets an email or text from an approved number that is inappropriate, there is no way for you block it. Hopefully, this will change in the future and parents will have even more control over their children viewing content.
3) Set definite boundaries with your children. Do not allow them to have private passwords, you need to be able to check their electronic devices, email and social media accounts for appropriate content. Make it a house rule, all passwords for electronic devices and emails are shared in the home.
4) Keep your computer in an open space. Do not allow your children to have online access behind closed doors. There is no reason they need privacy, they are children. Our children do online classes at home but they understand the doors are to remain open. If this is an issue in your home, try installing some glass doors instead or move your computer to an open area without doors.
5) Set your browser to remember passwords and record website history. Look under the System Preferences icon to on your computer to change this function. Check the browser history frequently to be sure everything is on the up and up.
6) Call your internet service provider and see what parental controls they offer. They may have some tools available that you weren’t aware of. If you bundle your services and have cable TV with them as well, have them help you set up controls on your television for cable. We use Charter Communications and they have an excellent tutorial on setting up your TV blocking here. Many TVs are set up for Internet streaming, you want to have controls in place for that too, here another link for Charter that may be helpful.
7) Install a content filtering router. You can purchase a special router to filter unwanted Internet content right at the source where it enters your home. With a router like this, no one in the household will be able to view unwanted content whether they connect to the router directly or wirelessly. A filtering router can work with your current Internet provider and is programmable so you can block unwanted websites and specific content. Generally these routers are rather expensive, but they are available. I recently won a router like this, and I can’t wait get started using it. I can’t wait to tell you all about it!
8) Limit your child’s Internet access by age. Young children should have little or no reason to use the Internet, especially when they are unsupervised. Our doctor recommended no more than 20 minutes of screen time per sitting, not more than 2 hours daily for our kids.
These are some pointers, but the best way to keep your kids safe is by being an involved parent. Know who your kids are friends with and what their family rules and values are. Establish your own family rules and stick to them. You may need to step in and make some difficult choices, but your kids will thank you in the long run.
Are you wondering what all this silly artistic censorship is about? These silly art pictures won me the grand prize of a complete content filtering router system! I don’t have the system yet, but I will have more to share soon, including how you can get one for your family!
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