Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Parental Control

In today's world raising a child has taken on a whole new meaning. Gone are the days of sending your children to the local playground and knowing that they will be home by the time the street lights adorn the evening sky. This is mostly because little Mike and Tonya are no longer at the play ground they are at home, playing on the family computer or one of the latest gaming devices.  To most parents the thought that they could be in any danger goes down the drain with the kitchen dish water. What could be more safe than my daughter or son sitting at home googling or shooting it out on a video game.
  The boogie man is not outside instead we have let him into our homes and given him an unrestricted avenue to our children. This scary individual is talking to our children via the Internet. They are sitting in a virtual world where we as parents are not native, but our children who have been raised in the digital age are living in this world made up of 3D avatars and social networking sites. What do we as parents do to protect our children from these predators when we can't possibly see everything or everywhere for this matter that they are doing on the computers and the hard wired game devices.
  Just like the steps we take to prevent our child from being taken from the play ground or having unprotected sex for our teens we need to start protecting our children on the Internet. The first step is to talk with your child and explain the dangers of giving out private information or photos over the computer. Talk to them about the dangers of talking to someone they don't know over the Internet and connect this with talking with a stranger on the street. Many children do not see the harm because they believe they will never see this person so the danger is not real to them. Ensure your children understand the boundaries and expectations you as a parent expect them to adhere to We have done the first step which is talking to our children but this like many things we talk about to our children don't register until its to late.
  Step two is adding programs to your computer to help filter those dangers. These systems work at keeping the hunters out and allowing you to control where in this vast unrestricted universe your child goes. They go a lot further than the simple parental control that you set on the computer or the social networks your children use. Some of the hottest are Kidzui, and buddy browser.  these sites help keep the attention of you little one on the computer  by utilizing bright colors and content age appropriate graphics for them, they even are able to browse the web in safety. However for your older teen and tween; these are the kids from age 9 to 17 we need a system which is far more sophisticated. I have found that Kid Zafe under the ZamZuu  shopping network is a great filtering tool. This program not only filters the web but online gaming devices. I have even attached my child's cell phone and am alerted when they are receiving unusual text from unknown numbers, sending out pictures on the web with sexual content and am able to monitor the chat sessions they are having not just from our home computer but any computer they use their user accounts. This system helps me be smarter at keeping my child safe than my teen daughter who seeks to undermine my rules and sees no dangers at all.
  The world we live in is forever changing and our children are seeing things faster than you or I could have ever imagined. We as parents can no longer take a back seat to how our children are engaging in the digital world we must be proactive and above all else we must keep them safe.  If anyone is interested in having a free Internet workshop for their community school, Church or any other organization send me a line I have some great information for you.