If you’re worried about your kids’ Internet safety, you’re not alone. The rapid pace of tech innovation often leaves parents feeling lost, but the latest parental control software gives you the ability to keep up with the trends.
One of my current favorites is a freebie from an old friend. Symantec’s Norton Online Family lets you protect all the computers in your house from one convenient web-based control panel. What’s nice about Norton Online Family is that it works with both PC and Mac. First, set up your initial account on the Online Family web site, then add accounts for each child based on age. You’ll receive emails notifying you of any blocked sites or unwanted activity, and as the parental administrator you can permit or deny sites as you prefer. The default settings work great for blocking popups and ads on the sites your kids visit. And did I mention, it’s free?
There are some other freebies available to you if you have Windows 7 or Mac OS X Snow Leopard or Lion. The latest versions of these systems include improved parental control features.
I’m often asked if kids can get past parental controls. Of course they can, if they try hard enough. Using your computer’s built-in features offers resistance to “accidental” attempts to disarm the safeties, but I think a better deterrent is good old-fashioned communication. Even using the term “parental control software” can put your teen into a combative stance. Instead, call it what it is: part of your Internet safety arsenal. There are good reasons to protect kids’ computers that have nothing to do with parental trust. Stuff you don’t want will appear on even the most innocuous sites, or the sites themselves can be redirected somewhere unsavory. With parental control software you have an added level of protection on top of your antivirus software.