The Internet comes with lots of tools to help us: weather, news, sports, TV, education, entertainment, books, shopping and more.
Along with the good, however, comes the bad. And when we say bad, we mean it. Internet predators and less-than-upstanding sites have been creeping into our homes via the Internet at alarming rates.
It’s time something is done to protect our kids (and ourselves) from the unwanted byproducts of the Web.
The best defense against inappropriate Internet activity will always be a well-informed, engaged parent. But it doesn’t hurt to have a little help. Many providers have developed filters that add a crucial layer of protection for your home and family. These filters, although varied in structure, typically give you the ability to control content, implement passwords, block certain Web sites, monitor chatrooms, and prevent pop-ups.
So what Internet filter should you choose? That’s a great question. The resource Web site toptenreviews.com suggests you consider the following factors when choosing filter software:
Ease of use. Make sure that any software you choose will be compatible with your level of technical expertise. Don’t forget to consider the technical skills of anyone else who might be utilizing the software (i.e., a spouse or grandparent) and make sure it is compatible with the lowest common denominator.
Effectiveness. You want to find a software program that will filter out all objectionable content, but not impede legitimate searches. You should be able to customize the filter strength to meet your family’s needs.
Geeky stuff (toptenreviews.com calls this filtering algorithm). The bottom line is that your filter should utilize advanced math to include URL, keyword, and dynamic filtering.
Activity reporting. Reporting will detail which sites were visited and details about chat and IM activity. It may seem like Big Brother, but you are the parent after all.
Foreign language filtering. Some savvy teenagers have discovered that they can type the keyword they are seeking in a foreign language to beat the filters. Not so fast, amigo. Se habla everything!
Port filtering and blocking. Your filter should work with all major Internet protocols including Web access, chatrooms, e-mail, bulletin boards and pop-up windows.
As always, you can contact Computer Problem Specialists at (928) 468-0000 for help in choosing the right software or installing it on your machine.
Whichever software you decide to use, remember that it is not a substitute for parental supervision and involvement. Be engaged with your kids’ Internet use. You can teach them to stay away from the bad things that are out there. And maybe they can teach you how to use Facebook.
Daniel Taft is the senior network administrator and member/owner of Computer Problem Specialists, LLC with a degree in applied computer science. His career spans more than 20 years.