My kids use our home computers daily to play games online or to do research for their school projects. It won't be long before they'll want to start blogging or visiting social networking sites that their friends have told them about.
As a parent myself, I think its important to be aware of the dangers that are lurking on the Internet so that you can protect your kids from viewing inappropriate or adult-related web pages.
Internet security vendors like Symantec (makers of Norton Antivirus), McAfee, and Panda Software have already started gearing up for the challenges our current generation of children are facing on the Internet.
Here are some chilling statistics from Panda Software's child security web site:
Wow, this list really got my attention, and I hope it gets your's too! These facts prompted me to start an all-out strategic battle to protect my kids from these dangers, while still letting them safely enjoy the games and resources that are available on the Internet.
Here are a couple tools I've started using for filtering web site content and monitoring the web sites my kids are viewing on the Internet:
For web site content filtering I use Panda Internet Security. It's installed on both my home computers (the work station upstairs, and my wife's laptop that the kids play on downstairs).
Panda comes with a Web Content Control module that filters web site content so that I don't have to worry about my kids viewing inappropriate web sites. It also protects against viruses, spyware, adware, malware, and even system hijack attempts.
The Web Content Control settings let you create varying levels of protection, including a very restrictive Kids filter that only allows the safest web sites to be viewed, and a few medium-level pages that are just right for teenagers, and then a no-restriction level that's perfect for parents.
Changes to the web content filter settings are password protected, so your kids won't be able to change them once they're set. You can also modify the default settings to add or remove sites at your discretion.
You can't watch your kids 100% of the time that they're on the computer, but it's helpful to have the ability to track their Internet activity when you're not around, as well as other types of computer usage such as IM chats and email.
There's a handy program called PC TattleTale Parental Control that will take screenshots of your system every few seconds, and then lets you view it in a video-like display whenever you want to check up on your kid's computer activities.
It also secretly traps keyboard usage and lists all programs that were used on your system.
Here's a link to PC TattleTale's free trial download.
Panda Internet Security and PC TattleTale Parental Control are both very powerful tools for protecting your kids online, and making sure they aren't exposed to inappropriate web site content containing pornography or other graphic material.