Increased access to the internet and social media presents countless opportunities every day for your child to be exposed to mature content, bullying, or inappropriate interaction with others. While threats abound, there are also tools available to help you monitor online activity and block harmful content.
Responsible parents set boundaries, and it’s important that safe internet and social media usage behaviors are reinforced early and consistently. These programs and software help you do that.
Parental Controls on Browser Settings
Firefox: Download the FoxFilter add-on , and then adjust your settings under Options. In the sensitivity settings, check off screens for URL address, title, meta content, and body content. After adding keyword filters and sensitivity, navigate over to Settings. In the dropdown menu, select Privacy, and disable website tracking
Internet Explorer: Navigate to Tools/Internet Options/Content and open up Parental Controls. Here, you can set time restrictions so your child isn’t using the computer when you’re not able to monitor it. There’s an extensive content advisor for different categories and slider bars, allowing you to screen which sites get through. Choose which sites and apps are allowable by navigating to the Games section under Windows.
Google Chrome: Chrome doesn’t offer any parental controls, but you can download third-party apps in the Chrome store, but you’re better off using a different default browser for your child’s internet use.
Microsoft Family Safety
While it requires Windows 8+, the Microsoft Family Safety download settings allow parents to monitor and set limits on the time their child spends online, which games, apps and pages they visit, and screen and block specific pages. While Windows 7 includes some parental settings, the Family Safety program provides an extra layer of protection and screening on internet use.
This paid program offers all of the options available on the free Microsoft Family Safety download,plus SNS message monitoring. Net Nanny settings can screen for chat rooms, blogs, and other social media (including Facebook). Available for Windows, Mac OS X, iOS and Android, Net Nanny monitors both home computing and mobile devices. Set screens to block, mask, warn or hide questionable content on web pages and even instant messenger services. One neat feature is the Profanity Mask, which allows you to access pages that have profanity on them without blocking the page entirely. It simply provides a screen for the inappropriate language, an especially handy tool for use on those awful comment sections.
Make sure your child understands the boundaries you set, and don’t be afraid to enforce limitations on internet access and use. Even if your own child is responsible and abides by your limits, there’s no controlling what others may say and do. When you can’t be there to make sure your child is safe, provide an extra level of security.