We’re all about Internet safety for our kids, although I know that’s a little like saying we’re all for world peace. It’s a given when you’re a parent. Well today happens to be Safer Internet Day and while my kids are still too young to be bookmarking NPR and uploading MP3s by themselves, I’ve decided to prepare them now. I think I’ll just start telling them now that the Internet doesn’t work anymore. The Internet is broken, guys. Sorry! Let’s go read a book.
For the rest of you, today gives you a great opportunity to take a look at the existing measures you have on your family PC to make sure safety is priority one. Here are some good products to consider for locking down that computer and keeping the tots digitally safe.
Net Nanny is software you install on your PC to block questionable sites, chat rooms, online gaming sites and anything else you deem inappropriate. If your kid easily gets that glazed look in the computer black hole, you can also use time controls. ($39.99, with a free trial to test some features.)
PC Tattletale is a program that literally captures the minute details of your kid’s computer activity–everything from pages visited to email tracking. It even takes screenshots so you can double-check that what your kid is doing or who she is talking to is kosher. This seems very hard core, but could be a good option if you have a tween or teen heavily into social
networking and email. (PC Tattletale is $49.99.)
For younger tots who are starting to explore the vast reaches of the Internet, you want to set them up with a safe and threat-free browser. KidZui is a free Internet browser for kids with standard browser features, but it offers completely safe and monitored content to ensure they aren’t seeing something they shouldn’t see. It also incorporates games and has a tot-friendly YouTube equivalent called ZuiTube.
Finally, take a read through our interview with Ryan Moreau of Kiwi Commons from last fall; this super Internet safety guy offers some super Internet safety tips for parents.
Of course the most important thing you can do for your kids is to keep an open line of communication and continue to educate them on the possible dangers of the online world–just as you do with the offline world. If you’re using a service like PC Tattletale, you might want to let your kids know first; safety is a priority of course, but hopefully without compromising trust in the process.
Signing a contract like this one offered by Internet expert Kim Komando is also a good starting point for having “The Talk” about the computer.
Yes, there’s a new “The Talk” on the block now. Sorry parents. –Jeana