Internet Safety – Parental Controls & Content Filtering at Home Internet Safety is a critical parental responsibility. As we’ve covered in our previous Parent Partnership Internet Safety articles (Internet Safety for the AC Community, Internet Safety – Facebook and Pre-teens, and Internet Safety – Inappropriate Content & Parental Responsibility), your supervision of your children’s Internet usage in their private lives at home, with friends, and around town is the most important factor for their safe use of the Internet and for them to avoid inappropriate online content (i.e., pornography, violence, promotion of alcohol and drug use, hate speech, etc.), as well as to avoid inappropriate online social interactions or relationships (i.e., Cyberbullying, Internet predators or stalking, sexting, etc.). As noted child psychologist and parenting expert Dr. Michelle Borba states in her article “Parenting Cyber-Kids in a Digital Age”: REALITY CHECK: The latest estimates show that 93 percent of teens 12 to 17 years old go online, 75 percent own cell phones, and 73 percent use social networking sites–up from 55 percent just three years ago (Borba, 2011). While these figures reflect the tween and teen population of the United States, it is safe to say that they are also representative of our Academia Cotopaxi students who are also going online and using Internet and mobile connectivity, and especially social networking sites, at similar rates. Again, it is imperative that we all recognize “the unique challenge of parenting today’s cyber-kid” (Borba, 2011). However, we also recognize that in your busy lives, parents cannot always be there to monitor and guide their children’s Internet activities. Sometimes, parents need help. It is understandable that parents increasingly feel the need to exert more control over their kids’ online lives, but at the same time may lack the knowledge, experience and resources to do this. Parental Controls for Internet browsers and mobile devices are good options for parents to implement at home. As part of our Parent Partnership, please read on to learn more about implementing Parental Controls not only at home, but also with your children’s mobile devices like the iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch and BlackBerry. We hope you will find these tools and tips helpful in parenting your cyber-kids. Let’s Learn About Creating a Safe Home Internet Environment A good place to start is with PCMag.com’s article, “Keep Your Child Safe Online” (PCMag.com, 2011). PCMag.com speaks to the need for a baseline level of “Traditional Parental Control” of Internet use, stating that: The simplest parental control utility should prevent access to inappropriate websites (parents can decide which categories are inappropriate). It should also limit the amount of time spent online, set a schedule for what time of day Internet use is permitted, or both. And of course it should be hardened against hacking, so a clever teen can't disable it. (PCMag.com, 2011) The article goes on to describe common Internet “ways [kids] can get in trouble” on the Internet, including: • “Nasty Websites” (porn, gambling, drugs, violence, school cheating sites, etc.); • “Dangerous Contacts” (pedophiles or other inappropriate communication using social networking sites); • “Too Much Information” (sharing home addresses and other personal/security sensitive information); • “Internet Overdose” (kids using the Internet for hours on end each day); • “Cyber-bullying” (kids being harassed, tormented, and emotionally abused online by other kids). PCMag.com offers information about both software-based and hardware-based Parental Control options, Parental Control for mobile devices (iPhones, iPads, BlackBerrys), as well as parental monitoring tools for Social Network Safety and “spying” on your children’s computer use, should this be necessary. Please give the “ Keep Your Child Safe Online” article a read. Here are some other sources of background information about home Internet Safety and Parental Control options: • “Inappropriate Content for Children” (Netsmartz.org) • “Parent Strategy for Internet Safety” (National PTA pta.org) • “Tools for Families” (Getnetwise.org) If you are interested in implementing Parental Control of your children’s Internet use, then you should investigate the many options you have as a parent, ranging from the most basic (moving your child’s computer or laptop to a common
area and only allowing your child to use it under your supervision) to the intricate (complete surveillance software installed on all computers and mobile devices, and near constant monitoring of all of your child’s Internet use)—and also ranging from free to hundreds of dollars annually. The choices are yours to make. The tools and strategies are there for you. Let’s take a look! Let’s Set Some Limits—Parental Controls, Browser Safe Settings & Search Engine Safe Settings A good place for parents to start is with the “Parental Controls” available in your home computer or laptop operating system—Windows 7 and Mac OS are the most common. The following information can help you activate and use Windows 7 Parental Controls on your home computer and your children’s laptops. You can find similar information about Mac OS X Parental Controls further on in this article. Windows 7 Parental Controls For Windows 7, Microsoft offers the following advice and support on their “ What can I control with Parental Controls?” page—be sure to watch the video to learn how to use Parental Controls in Windows 7: You can use Parental Controls to set limits on the hours that children can use the computer, the types of games they can play, and the programs they can run. •
Set specific time limits on your children's computer use. You can set time limits to control when children are allowed to log on to the computer. Time limits prevent children from logging on during specified hours. You can set different logon hours for every day of the week. If they're logged on when their allotted time ends, they'll be automatically logged off. For more information, see Control when children can use the computer. Prevent your children from playing games you don't want them to play. Control access to games, choose an age-rating level, choose the types of content you want to block, and decide whether you want to allow or block specific games. For more information, see Choose which games children can play. Keep your children from running specific programs. Prevent children from running programs that you don't want them to run. For more information, see Prevent children from using specific programs.
To watch a video, see
Video: Using Parental Controls. (Microsoft.com, 2012)
Microsoft offers another tools called “Windows Live Family Safety Filter”: “With Family Safety, you can set up web filtering and activity monitoring for your kids, and decide who your kids can communicate with in Windows Live Spaces, Messenger, and Hotmail” (Microsoft.com, 2012). Microsoft provides instructions on how to activate Windows Live Family Safety Filter (including how to download), and how to use the Family Safety website after you have installed the Family Safety Filter so you can do the following: • Get detailed activity reports. See what websites each of your kids visited (or tried to visit), what programs they used, and how much time they spent on the computer. • Choose your children’s web filtering level. When you first set up the Family Safety Filter, your child's web filtering level is automatically set to basic. You can change it to strict or custom, and block or allow specific webpages or websites. • Turn on contact management. You can decide who your kids can talk to in Windows Live Spaces, Messenger, and Hotmail. Just sign in to the Family Safety website to approve or reject each new contact. (Microsoft.com, 2012). Mac OS X Parental Controls Similar Parental Controls are available in the Mac operating system—most common versions include Mac OS X 10.5 and 10.6. Support.apple.com writes that their Mac OS X Parental controls will “help prevent user accounts from accessing inappropriate content on Internet websites” (Support.apple.com, 2012). Follow the directions on the “Mac OS X v10.5, 10.6: About the Parental Controls Internet content filter” site to activate and use the “Internet content filter” on your MacBook’s and iMac desktop computers.
Safe Browsing & Searching—Using Browser Safe Settings & Search Engine Settings Another basic set of Parental Controls you can enact at home have to do with Internet browsers (like Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari Mac, and Google Chrome), and Search Engines (like Google, and Bing). Internet browser Safe Settings work on two levels—first, to safeguard your computer from malicious software (malware) downloads; and second, to filter and block inappropriate content from Internet searches using Google and other search engines. Internet Explorer Settings—Privacy, Security & Content, Pop-up Blocker In Internet Explorer, there are some basic Parental Control settings you can use to safeguard Internet browsing: .
click Tools menu
On the Privacy tab, you can move the slider up from Medium to High to limit the “cookies” (small files that many websites store in Windows for faster loading of webpages). You can also make sure the Pop-up Blocker is enabled, and even adjust settings for it to allow Pop-ups from some pages. You might also want to choose the “Location” option to stop websites (like Facebook, Yahoo Mail and others) from requesting your location. You can also click on the Security tab to change the Security level for different “zones”—the entire Internet, Trusted Sites (sites you visit often and are sure will not cause security problems), and Restricted Sites (sites you list as being “off-limits”). Finally, check out the Content tab and review and/or change the settings. Enable the Content Advisor to set limits on accessing inappropriate content with Internet Explorer (i.e., sexual content, violence, drug and alcohol use, gambling, etc.). You can also set a “Supervisor” password. You can even add a list of “Approved Sites”.
Mozilla Firefox, Safari, and Google Chrome all have similar Privacy, Content, and Security features, including Pop-up blockers. It is highly recommended to activate the Pop-up blocker in your Internet browser Options (on the Privacy tab in Internet Explorer , on the Content tab in Mozilla Firefox ).
Search Engine Safe Settings—Google SafeSearch Another option is to use Google Search Settings and activate SafeSearch filters. However, these only apply if you (and your child) are using a Google account and are logged in. The Google SafeSearch filter allows you to control “How much explicit sexual content (web pages, images, and videos)… SafeSearch [should] filter from your results”, as well as allowing you to create a “SafeSearch Lock”: Locking SafeSearch sets SafeSearch to use strict filtering and restricts others' ability to change this preference. Strict filtering filters both explicit text and explicit images from your search results. Learn more … When signed in, you can block unwanted sites from your search results. (Google, 2012) Implementing these Parental Controls at the operating system (Windows 7 and Mac OS) and Internet browser and search engine level (Internet Explorer/Mozilla Firefox and Google) will go a long way toward creating a safe Internet environment at home, and will send a clear signal to your child that you care about their online safety—and that you are checking up on their appropriate Internet use! Let’s Get Mobile—Learn About iPhone/iPad & Blackberry Parental Controls Many children (especially teens) are using iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches and BlackBerrys every day. The following links provide information about setting up Parental Controls for these popular mobile devices. Please note that the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch use the same iOS, and thus the same Parental Controls will apply on all three of these devices. • imore.com iPhone 101: How To Set Up Parental Controls on Your iPhone • Apple.com iOS: Understanding Restrictions • ParentalSoftware.org BlackBerry Parental Controls Android devices will likely have similar Parental Control features. Let’s See Where They’ve Been: History (Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox) Another way of checking up on your child’s appropriate Internet use at home is to view the History of the Internet browser—the record of the Internet websites that the computer (and the Internet browser used on that computer) has visited. It is easy to check the History of Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox, but be forewarned—it is also easy for a child to delete the History! The first way to check the History in Internet Explorer 9 is to click the small down arrow in the Address bar , to view the most recently visited websites, and then the “History” down arrow to view the expanded list of visited websites. A more extensive look at the History in Internet Explorer 9 can be done using the keyboard command: Ctrl+Shift+H. This opens the History tab and allows you to see the browser History for “Today”, the previous days of the week, “Last Week”, and beyond. Mozilla Firefox has a similar method for viewing the History, most notably clicking the History tab Show All History (or Ctrl+Shift+H). In the Mozilla Firefox “Library” window, you can view Today, Yesterday, Last 7 days or the entire month. You can also use History Restore Previous Session if you are checking your child’s computer or laptop and he/she quickly closes Mozilla Firefox. The same feature is available in Internet Explorer under Tools Reopen last browsing session. Internet Explorer 9—Viewing Temporary Internet Files
Another way you can use to find out what Internet websites have been visited on a computer is to View Temporary Internet Files. This is a good option if you find that your child has Deleted the browsing History in Internet Explorer. Microsoft Help and Support provides the following information for viewing Temporary Internet files (Microsoft, 2012). Webpages are stored in your Temporary Internet Files folder the first time you view them in your web browser. This speeds up the display of pages you frequently visit or have already seen, because Internet Explorer can open them from your hard disk instead of from the Internet. To view temporary Internet files 1. Click to open Internet Explorer. 2. Click the Tools button, and then click Internet Options. 3. Click the General tab, and then, under Browsing history, click Settings. 4. In the Temporary Internet Files and History Settings dialog box, click View files. To delete temporary Internet files It's a good idea to delete temporary Internet files periodically to free hard disk space. 1. Click to open Internet Explorer. 2. Click the Tools button, and then click Internet Options. 3. Click the General tab, and then, under Browsing history, click Delete. 4. In the Delete Browsing History dialog box, select the check boxes for the information you want to delete, click Delete, and then click OK. Tip • If you want to save a permanent copy of one of the files in your Temporary Internet Files folder, copy it to another folder. To copy a file while you're viewing temporary files, right-click the file, click Copy, and then paste the file into another folder. We hope you have learned some important ways that you can monitor and guide your children’s Internet activities and online lives using these Parental Controls. Stay tuned for the next Internet Safety installment, “Internet Safety - Parental Control Software for Home Computers & Mobile Devices” that will provide information about free and professional tools parents can use for Internet blocking, filtering and monitoring. As always, if you have any questions regarding Internet Safety, please contact Mr. Jim Stratton, Academia Cotopaxi Director of Technology at email@example.com. Works Cited Borba, Michelle. “Parenting Cyber-Kids in a Digital Age”. Reality Check Blogging About Parenting Issues and the Solutions to Solve Them. Michelleborba.com, 07 March 2011. Web. 31 January 2012 <http://www.micheleborba.com/blog/2011/03/07/parenting-cyber-kids-in-adigital-age/>. “Inappropriate Content for Children”. Netsmartz Workshop. Netsmartz.org, 2011. Web. 31 January 2012 <http://www.netsmartz.org/InappropriateContent>. “Keep Your Child Safe Online”. PCMag.com, 13 December 2011. Web. 31 January 2012 <http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2346997,00.asp>. “Looking for web filtering and activity reports in Windows Parental Controls?” Microsoft.com, 2012. Web. 14 February 2012 <http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Looking-for-web-filtering-and-activity-reports-in-Windows-Parental-Controls#section_2>. “Mac OS X v10.5, 10.6: About the Parental Controls Internet content filter”. Support.apple.com, 2012. Web. 14 February 2012 <http://support.apple.com/kb/HT2900>. Microsoft. “View Temporary Internet Files”. Windows Help and Support. Microsoft, Inc., 2012. “Parent Strategy for Internet Safety”. National PTA. Pta.org, 2012. Web. 31 January 2012 <http://www.pta.org/topic_parent_srategy_for_internet_safety.asp>. “Safe Search Filters.” Search Settings. Google.com, 2012. Web. 31 January 2012 <http://www.go ogle.com.ec/preferences?hl=en>. “Tools for Families”. About…Kids’ Safety. Getnetwise.org, 2008. Web. 31 January 2012 <http://kids.getnetwise.org/tools/>. “What can I control with Parental Controls?” Microsoft.com, 2012. Web. 14 February 2012 <http://windows.microsoft.com/enUS/windows7/What-can-I-control-with-Parental-Controls>.