Many families are connecting to the Internet and realizing the need to protect children from the less than desirable content that does exist. Adult supervision is always preferable but not always available or realistic in this day and age. Enter parental control software. Many companies have developed software to help parents filter web content and manage what their children are permitted to do online. These programs are designed to be simple to install and easy to configure (yes, even for adults!).
Even though the perfect Internet filter doesn't exist, there are a number of great solutions depending on the needs of your family. Here is a list of some common features parental control software has to offer:
- Chat Filtering/Monitoring — allows you to specify whether or not to block chat rooms and, if allowed, to monitor and record what is being typed in a chat session.
- Peer-to-Peer Blocking — allows you to specify whether or not to block peer-to-peer applications such as Gnutella, Morpheus, Limewire, Kazaa, etc. These are typically used for downloading files, many of which might be copyrighted music files, copyrighted software, or pornography.
- Newsgroup Blocking — allows you to specify whether or not to block newsgroups.
- Popup Blocking — A popup is usually an advertisement window that appears on top of or below your current web browser window. Some of these popups might contain adult content.
- Personal Information Blocking — blocks your personal and confidential information from leaving your computer, such as address, phone numbers, credit card numbers, etc.
- Individual User Profiles — allow you to customize filter settings for different members of your family.
- Stealth Options — let you run the filters in stealth or hidden mode so no one knows the program is running except you.
- Remote Management — gives you control over the settings and passwords from anywhere that has Internet access.
There are many choices, so how do you choose the right program for your family? First, review the features that are available and decide which are most important to you and your family. Next, do your research. Look for a product that is easy to install, easy to set up, easy to configure, and most importantly has the features you're looking for. Optimum Online now offers customers free parental control software along with free firewall and antivirus software. Log in and visit our download area for more information.
In addition to parental control software, here are some additional tips to help you protect your family:
- Place the computer in an open room in the home, rather than out of sight in a bedroom. The computer should be setup where it is easy for parents to see the screen and monitor behavior.
- Talk with your children and educate them about what kind of sites they are allowed to visit. Then check to make sure that they stay within these agreed limits.
- Keep your children out of unmonitored chat rooms. The best Internet filtering software blocks access to all chat to keep your children safe from the threat of dangerous people, masquerading as kids.
- Teach children to never open e-mail from someone they don't know.
- Make sure your children are aware to never give out any personal information over the Internet.