In our on-going efforts at MyNaughtyAffair to makeyour experience as fun and safe as possible, we have created this document tohelp parents understand how to protect their children from inappropriate onlinematerial.
The first step to protect your family is to install parentalcontrol software on your computer. Some of the best-known and respected parentalcontrol software packages are CyberPatrol, Net Nanny and Safety Surf. Also, someISPs (Internet Service Providers, the companies that let your modem connect tothe Internet) provide content filtering as part of their basic service. Checkwith your ISP to see if this is an option they offer.
Parental control software works by blocking access tospecific websites and online content. In most cases, when you buy the softwareit already contains a large list of sites that are inappropriate for children.You can then update the software through the manufacturer’s website or, in somecases, the software will update itself.
Another way filtering software works is to block sites basedon key words, such as “sex.” However, filtering software doesn’t have to justblock access to adult-oriented material. You can configure the software tofilter for topics such as tobacco, drugs and drug culture, alcohol, violence andracism.
Since there might be only one computer in your household, andyou might be using the same computer as the children, you can set up the systemto filter content during certain hours, such as when you’re at work and notaround to supervise your children’s web surfing. You can also setup the systemto create a password, that only you know, to override the restrictions.
Some programs can also block personal information, such asname, address and phone number, from being sent from your computer. This is anexcellent way to protect children from potential online predators.
Many programs allow you to create different levels ofsecurity and filtering based on the different ages of the computer’s users.Children can be given high security and heavy content filtering, but when youlog on to the machine, you can set it to not filter any content at all.
One thing to remember is that by installing filteringsoftware on your computer, you might also restrict childrens’ access tolegitimate sites. This is especially true if you rely on key words (such as”sex”) for blocking. Certain key words appear on legitimate news and informationsites, so it’s best to experiment with different settings when configuring thefilter controls.
Installing filtering software is no guarantee that childrenwon’t be exposed to some inappropriate material online. New websites pop upeveryday, so it’s important to keep your software up to date. Also, learn howyour Internet browser software works so that you can check the sites your familyhas visited (this is the “History” feature, which displays a list of websitesvisited by the web browser).
Talking to your children about the possible dangers thatexist on the Internet, and supervising their web surfing are still the best waysto protect them.
Some key general Internet-related safety points for yourchildren:
- Tell them to never give out personal information about themselves or the family to strangers they might meet online or in a chat room.
- Remind them that online it’s easy for people to pretend to be someone else. They can easily change their name, age and gender in an effort to get close to children.
- Teach them that they should never meet a new online friend without an adult present.
- Tell them to never give out their picture to a stranger, and that if they ever get a picture with sexual content, or something they find disturbing, that they should get off the computer immediately and tell you about it.
- Let them know that if they encounter something or someone dangerous that they can tell you about it, and that you won’t blame them or get mad.