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Internet Content Controls

Last Updated: Fri, 06 May 2011 > Related Articles

Summary

Tips and Tricks for parents to control content viewing with Cox Business Internet.

Solution

Content Filtering

One of the easiest ways to keep a kid out of trouble is not allow them to find it in the first place. This is where content filtering comes in.  Filtering software programs contain lists of known sites that you might not want kids accessing, and block them. These sites are added to the list by the companies, and the lists are updated once a week or so.  You then download the new list.

  • Benefits: The company actively looks for sites to block so you don't have to.  Some programs let you add sites to the "OK" or "Bad" list on your own as well.  Logs all Internet sessions or just violations.  Some offer an evaluation version to try before you buy.
  • Negatives: Disputes over what sites are blocked, such as medical information on reproduction or cancer.  Requires subscription to filter list (software generally comes with several months of filter list subscription.)

Some hardware and software firewalls also provide some of these services.  

 

Logging Software

While the content filtering programs offer active blocking of web pages, another kind of software offers logging of Internet usage. Programs like these place the emphasis on keeping a trail of where net surfers have been.  This allows parents to discuss with kids sites they have visited, and what might or might not be appropriate.

  • Benefits: Doesn't block net access, just monitors it, allowing for review and discussion.  Some limit access times, preventing unattended use of computer. No filter list subscription required.
  • Negatives: Log files can be lengthy, doesn't prevent initial visit to unwanted site.

Some hardware and software firewalls also provide some of these services.  

 

Surfing Tips

It may be a good idea before your child goes online to set up some surfing guidelines that you would like them to follow.   Here are some of our suggestions:

  • Kids just starting computing like pre-schoolers and younger grade school students should probably be supervised during their Internet experiences.  A good policy might be to stick to trusted websites like Nickelodeon, Children's Television Workshop (Sesame Street) and similar familiar areas.
  • Older grade schoolers and middle school students will want to spend more time alone on the Internet.  Federal Law does prohibit any site from gathering personal information about someone 12 or younger. Good rules for these kids, depending on their age and Internet experience, might include: No private chats or instant messages, only age appropriate chat rooms, and parents can monitor you at any time while you are surfing.
  • The older they get and the more experience they have, you can continue to reward them with additional access permissions.
  • It is a great idea to keep the computer in a family area instead of a bedroom or lower traffic area.  Having other people around will limit abuses, especially accessing unknown or unwanted sites on the web.
  • If they want to buy from the web, there are several companies that offer online bank accounts that you can "seed" with money for them, and empower them to shop on their own.

 

Online Chat

It's something every parent has to decide for themselves and their kids.  When to let them chat and where. Some thoughts:

  • Unless it is in a real moderated and structured format (like a moderated chat with their favorite cartoon character on that characters website) you may not want to have pre-teens using chat.
  • Develop a set of guidelines of what they can or can't say in response to specific questions.  For example, Wichita being a larger city, if asked where they live they could just say "Near Wichita."  You might want to limit giving out things like what school they go to (this identifies a specific section of town), their teachers name, their age, and their sex.
  • Help them develop a "screen name" or alias that you both agree on.  Try and avoid ones that might be sex or age specific, like "DaddysLittleGirl" or "13andDepressed".
  • Discuss where they can chat, and where they can't.  There are plenty of chat rooms on the Internet.  If they are just starting with chat, keep them to familiar sites and moderated chats before letting them chat alone. Try and get them into a chat room with a specific topic (like a sports teams chat after the game) instead of just a random chat room.

 

 


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