COMPUTER—Question & Answer
Question: My children use our computer a lot. How can I make sure they are not visiting places on the Internet that they should not or giving out personal information?
Answer: First, there is no guarantee that you will prevent it all of the time. The object in parenting is to make it more difficult to do wrong as well as to educate and be proactive.
As parents, we want to build trust, but in this case, realize that even the best kids get tempted. It is not worth the risk of what can happen — innocence lost, theft, stalking, kidnapping, and death to name a few.
Also realize that their activity can jeopardize your computer, but more importantly, the whole family.
The computer in jeopardy is easily handled by the anti-spam, anti-virus, and anti-spyware programs as discussed in a previous issue.
As for your children, there are protection programs that prevent your children from going to unwanted sites. Some are free and some are not.
As for free, WeBlocker (found at our site) is a nice tool that not only allows concerned parents to keep an active list of forbidden sites, but you also have the controls to prevent specific sites yourself.
In addition, WeBlocker also allows you to monitor your children's activity. There is a log that is maintained automatically. This allows you to review the activity and block specific websites at a click of the mouse.
As for the trusting part, it is built upon education. The more you know about different Internet sites that teens and preteens are into, the better you will be at monitoring and blocking as well as educating.
Chat rooms are the most dangerous. Sold as a great way to keep in touch with friends, it has been a source of much stalking of children.
Be careful also of sites that ask your children a lot of information and then creates a profile for the world to see. Using that site in connection with Mapquest.com and WhitePages.com, stalkers have an easy time.
Be involved with your children. When everyone is doing it, check the website that "everyone" is going to.
When a child needs private time on the Internet, that is a signal to check things out.
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