The last time I broached the subject of monitoring your child’s internet activity, the article sparked controversy with a few readers, berating me for questioning their parenting abilities. With that in mind I thought I would try again.
I have three (now adult) kids myself and I hate being told how to bring them up as much as the next parent. Having IT Knowledge, I did monitor their activities and put rules in place in the same way I did with non-internet activities. If they said they were going to someone’s house I would check I knew how to contact them and that the other parents were aware etc. as no doubt you all would. The issue is many parents are less IT aware than their kids, so enforcing rules is very difficult. This coupled with some parents still being unaware of the potential dangers for minors out there on the WWW makes the issue more of a concern.
According to Ofcom 90% of 8-11 year olds spend 13 hours p/w online. This Increases to 98% for 12 – 15 y/o who spend 20 hours p/w. Personally I believe these averages are very low, as they do not include smart phone time.
What’s the problem? Pornography for one – 83% of boys and 57% of girls below the age of 18 admit having seen group sex online. 79% of unwanted internet exposure to porn is in the home.
Cyberbullying – 10% say they have been threatened and or blackmailed by their peers.
Online Predators – 47% of offenders are more than 20 years older than their victims and 83% of victims who met their offender, willingly went somewhere with them.
Gaming – many games are completely inappropriate for under 18’s with not only the risk of subjecting them to extreme violence but also sexualised content, predators and the newer threat of gambling or overspending, encouraged by many games.
Obviously, you would be mortified if your 12-year-old announced they were off to London for the night to see a dubious show in the back streets of Soho with a guy older than their Dad who they met in the park. But you would know how to deal with real life issues like this. Online is much more difficult, especially if you have poor IT skills, and then there is also the question of invading privacy.
Help is at hand though with Child Protection Software. These break down into two main categories and each of these have both free and paid for versions – none are fool proof so you will still need to do some parenting I’m afraid.
Blocking or Web Filtering – software that blocks access to certain websites by default and allows you to add or allow sites of your choice.
Logging / Spying – hidden to the user or not, these log what is being typed, what apps are used and when and some have screen shots.
There is a large choice but some well-reviewed free software to consider would be: Qustodio, OpenDNS FamilyShield, Kidlogger and Spyrix Free Keylogger. Zoodles is different being a web browser (like chrome, Firefox) designed specifically for kids. You will need some IT skills to install configure and monitor, but you could always ask your kids to help. (or Genmar for a small fee)
I am normally careful, when writing these articles, making the effort to give informed advice on IT and not overly promote Genmar. However, we achieved something just before Christmas and I am so proud of my team that I want to announce it here. After a concerted effort Genmar have officially been awarded Microsoft Gold Partner Status. I realise this means nothing to the uninitiated but it means a lot to us geeks!
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Top Tip – Did you know you can undo almost any action? Ctrl + Z is the ultimate hot key, undo doesn’t just apply to typing. If you accidentally delete or move a file, you can hit Ctrl + Z to bring it right back to where it was (Ctrl + Y will redo whatever you undid).
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