There’s no substitute for making rules for your kids so they know what’s expected of them when they’re online. Don’t wait until something bad happens to start creating guidelines.
You know talking to your kids regularly about how they use the Internet makes it likely that they’ll be more willing to come to you if there’s a problem. But let’s face it, kids naturally push the limits. They test what they can get away with, which can be especially true when our children are online, a place where they may exhibit a level of digital proficiency that may be bewildering to most parents.
We’re all aware of the dangers the internet poses for our children. Pornography, whether it is intentionally sought after or accidently stumbled upon, is more prevalent on the Internet than ever before. There are avenues for kids to post provocative pictures, videos, and blog about their deepest personal experiences in very public forums. Sexual predators are clever, and are well versed in attracting and communicating with our children, violating the safe walls of our homes via our family computer, without our knowledge. Of course it’s not just limited to inappropriate content. There are websites with recipes to make drugs and create weapons, promote hate, violence and racism.
Most parents simply don’t have the time to constantly look over their kids’ shoulder while they are online. The only way to absolutely guarantee that bad sites are not accessed in your home is to take yourself off the grid. Since you can’t live in a cave, we recommend a program called K-9 Web Protection. K-9 prevents your computer or device from accessing dangerous and inappropriate sites with a high degree of accuracy and is very configurable. For example, let’s say that your child comes home with a school assignment to research cocaine abuse, and that the site that they’re trying to access for legitimate research is blocked. No problem. You, as a parent, enter your top secret K-9 password and allow access. K-9 has varying degrees of filtering, ranging from high, default, moderate and minimal. We recommend the highest setting as it is very conservative, and then allows you to pick and choose what you believe is appropriate for your children. For example, the highest level blocks social media sites as well. If you’re OK with your kid being on Facebook, you could allow the site permanently or even just for that day.
K-9 also has a feature called Night Guard enabling you to grant web access during certain parts of the day. For example, web access can be disabled between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. on school nights. K-9 keeps detailed logs on when and where your children are going online and how much time is being spent on each page, that only you can see. There’s also a setting that forces your child to only use browsers that support Safe Search. For example, let’s say you’ve got Google Chrome installed. This K-9 setting forces Google to use Safe Search and leave out inappropriate material in its search results. Therefore, if you searched for the word “sex” using Google with Safe Search, you might get a result about the mating habits of butterflies as opposed to adult content. Should someone attempt to download and install a browser that will not support Safe Search, K-9 will block it.
Best of all, K-9 is a free program and is available for your PC, Android or Apple device. For the PC, navigate to www.k9webprotection.com. For your Apple, download the app from the App Store, and from Google Play on your Android.
This article was published in the September/October issue of Owensboro Parent Magazine.