by Bruno Galera
Guest blogger & Dell employee
(Editors note: The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and not necessarily of SafeKids.com. For a slightly different perspective on parental controls, see Internet filters have their place, but not for all kids)
There are some parents out there that are just as Internet and computer-savvy as the next person, but then there are the rest of us who might feel that our children know more about our own devices and how to work them, than we do.
If you relate more to the latter, you probably found that you’re not very comfortable with your child surfing the net openly, freely creating social profiles, gaming online, or, maybe you’re not comfortable with any of it because of how foreign it is to you. Whether you feel that you know what kinds of tasks your children are able to perform online or not, there are safety measures that should be implemented either way.
Though communication is probably the most conducive move in monitoring your child’s everyday activities there are other measures that, in this day in age, are necessities when talking about child safety online. Threats can present themselves even when they are not being searched out and these can sometimes be the most dangerous.
Nowadays you can’t even buy a computer without being presented with several online protection options that come standard with the set up. But now there are options that are extremely advanced and so explicit that some of the systems are furnished specifically with your child and families’ safety in mind.
Author Jesse Schwarz reminds us that Internet service providers allow for control over some content, but there are also certain parental control options that we will be smart to utilize in conjunction. For example, the computers with Windows 8 have an operating system from Microsoft that has the ability to set up parental controls specifically for Internet browsing. Click here for Jesse’s hands-on steps for using these controls.
Also, Windows 8 makes it possible to set up individual user accounts that can each be monitored very closely. With this function, every member in the family can have his or her own account while the master account is able to monitor the others in as much or as little depth as deemed necessary.
Activity reports will be reported that will permit monitoring or even eliminating certain activities online. With the “family safety” option (found in your Windows 8 user account set up) you can modify Internet activity by controlling website access, setting time limits for computer use, blocking unwanted sites or even specifying the sites that your children are allowed to access.
Obviously the age of your child will determine how closely they are monitored, but understanding these options will ultimately reduce the risks that your child faces everyday online. These computers will also allow you to control files that are downloaded.
Using the “Block File Downloads” option will help prevent downloading that doesn’t meet your approval. There are also many other options out there that can filter emails, instant messaging, and video material based on unknown addresses, descriptive text, words or phrases, and tags.
Aside from the risk of stumbling onto an unwanted site, there are also the constant security threats that lie in wait and are undetectable until they have already gotten what they came for. Windows 8 offers some of the most recent groundbreaking security improvements specifically catered to this type of needed protection.
Communication is Key
David Miles, European director of the Family and Online Safety Institute (FOSI) states that “the nature of the threats [online] are changing…two years ago we were dealing with a search-oriented culture that was adult dominated…now we are in a world of user-generated content, it’s no longer an adult-only environment.”
What we can gather from this, is that no matter how much control we may feel we have or want over our children with respect to the Internet, we can’t put a stop to it – unless, of course, we are willing to renounce all comforts of modern life and disconnect completely. Since the likelihood of that happening is slim to none, I would suggest taking alternative measures.
First, set up the system protection options mentioned above. Then, buckle down and set aside all feelings of being threatened by your child’s knowledge of technology and get prepared to learn something from them. If you can do this, it can open up lines of communication that may have been blocking your understanding of their involvement online in the first place.
Carrie Longton, co-founder of Mumsnet, suggests having your child walk you through setting up an online profile or showing you how to surf the web, and, most importantly, let the humiliation flow! Children don’t like to feel threatened by their parents control tactics any more than parents enjoy implementing them. In this environment, trust can be built while you let them teach you something. It’s a win, win.
If you feel inadequate in your knowledge of technology, now is the time to learn. Keep the communication open and don’t forget to utilize the user friendly options available that come standard with computers like the all-in-one. With operating systems like Windows 8, you can rest assured that your family will be safer online than ever before.
How do you keep your kids safe online? Share your ideas and solutions below.
Bruno Galera works for Dell and has a passion for technology. When he’s not reading about the latest industry trends, you can find him cooking, reading, cheering on his favorite football team or at a museum enjoying contemporary art and photography.