With the rise of the internet predator and the proliferation of pornographic sites on the web, children’s online safety is of paramount concern to parents. It is therefore comforting for parents to know that there is a range of free downloadable online safety resources available to them.
Windows 7 or Windows Vista come with some parental controls built into the operating system. These have to be turned on and the settings adjusted to your particular needs.
Parents can set time limits on PC or laptop use, allow or block access to certain games or programs and get information about a child’s computer use. However, these controls don’t monitor internet use and additional parental controls from another provider will be needed.
These may be available, for example, as part of your broadband and satellite television package and can be added to the Windows Parental Controls already installed. You can visit Broadband Expert for satellite TV provider information.
Google has its own online safety tools which parents can access and set to their own requirements. For example, Google SafeSearch screens sites that contain sexually explicit content and removes them from search results.
Children will not, therefore, accidentally stumble upon pornographic images when searching the internet. Parents can choose the filter level and can even lock it with a password so that children cannot turn it off or bypass it.
Once locked, a very striking image of coloured balls is visible on the search page, even from across the room, so parents can easily see that the SafeSearch lock is still in place.
For later versions of Internet Explorer, Parental Control Bar is a free download that prevents access to adult content. It can be locked with a password but is not suitable for use with multiple Windows user accounts.
If you’re happy to have one account only on the family PC then this software offers adequate, if rather basic, parental controls.
Chat and Email Monitoring
Windows Live Family Safety is a freeware download for Windows. It may already be included in your Windows 7 package but can otherwise be easily downloaded from the Windows website.
You will need a Windows Live ID but once you have set one up, setting the tool to your requirements is easy. It is suitable for use on multiple Windows user accounts and once the settings are arranged, the server will filter the content available to your child’s account.
The beauty of this tool is that instant-messaging and email monitoring are included too.
K9 Web Protection can be downloaded and installed free of charge and provides parents with an activation key which doubles up as the password for each control task.
Parents can choose categories for the websites they want to block, including everything from abortion to violence. Adult pop-ups can also be blocked. However, online chat and email monitoring is not part of this freeware program.
KidsWatch Family Protection Suite is a free control tool which has a paid-for upgrade too. KidsWatch blocks inappropriate site content and pop-ups, but also alerts parents to undesirable chat conversations and email content using a keyword-monitoring system.
Parents can view the entire dialogue of instant-message and chat conversations. Individual settings for each child mean that children of different ages can have their own user accounts with suitable settings for their age group.
Along similar lines, Online Family Norton also blocks inappropriate sites and content and allows parents to monitor chat, instant messaging and emails. Again, settings can be attributed to individual user accounts depending on the age of each child in the family.
If you have concerns about your children using the usual internet browsers, then you might want to consider one or two of the child-friendly browsers available. Kidzui is a web browser that comes preloaded with suitable content for kids and is perfect for younger children.
There is even an associated child-friendly video content site called ZuiTube which children can be encouraged to visit instead of YouTube, ensuring that they are not exposed to any risky media.
Another similar internet tool is Buddy Browser, which also comes filled with suitable YouTube video content for kids. Buddy Browser also detects undesirable content in real time and blocks it instantly. It also offers safe social networking for children.
Broadband Provider Parental Controls
It is also worth examining your existing broadband package, as many satellite television and broadband providers include free parental control tools with their broadband services. Visit Broadband Expert for satellite TV provider information
There are many resources available to parents to ensure their child’s online safety, but none of them can act as a replacement for parental supervision. Parents should always be fully aware of their child’s online activities to be absolutely sure of their safety.
About The Author: Sarah James is an expert in broadband and satellite television services and writes on technology for a variety of websites and blogs. She recommends that you visit Broadband Expert for satellite TV provider information.