Parental Control

At our top priorities include providing an experience that is just as safe as it is fun. What follows are some suggestions for parents interested in protecting their children from inappropriate online materials.

A good first step in securing your child's online safety is to use parental control software. Well-known and established providers of online content filtering include CyberPatrol, Safety Surf and Net Nanny. Your internet service provider might also offer powerful parental control solutions at no extra cost. Talk to your service provider to find the solution that is right for you.

The best parental control software will simply block connections to specified web content. Some parental control software will already have a built in list of known inappropriate sites. This software may update this list automatically or you may need to visit the manufacturer's site to download the latest updates.

Filtering software can also block content that contains certain keywords, like "sex". These filters can be applied to all kinds of adult content. Websites covering topics ranging from tobacco and drug use to violence and racism can be blocked by simply configuring your software. Content filters can be made to be active only during certain times of day and restrictions are password protected, so your children are protected even when you're away.

Using software controls can also help you prevent personal information, like names, phone numbers and addresses, from ever being sent from your computer to unknown online predators.

Online filtering software can also adjust preferences based on the maturity of the user. The high level of security that is present when your young child is logged in can be relaxed for an older sibling or disabled completely when a parent needs to get online.

Sometimes filtering software will block a site that contains a common keyword ("sex") but is actually a harmless, legitimate site. Because good and bad sites might use the key word, many filtering solutions will let you adjust settings as need to allow access.

Installing software alone may not be enough to protect your children from the broad variety of inappropriate content that comes into existence every day on the internet. This is why it's important not only to keep your software up to date, but to also check your browsers "History" feature to see all of the sites your family has been visiting.

Talk to your children about what to avoid online and only allow web browsing when and where it can be supervised.

Here are some other online safety tips:

  • Don't disclose personal information about yourself or family to strangers online in chat rooms and forums.
  • Explain to your children that it is easy for strangers to lie about their age, and identity online.
  • Never allow a child to meet someone they've met online without adult supervision.
  • Teach your child to keep photos of themselves to themselves and to tell an adult if they encounter, or are sent, any disturbing or sexual material.
  • Explain to your children that they can be honest and come to you about anything they find online without worrying that you'll get upset.