For the most part, the Web is a fairly safe environment; nevertheless, a part of parenting involves children’s safety in real world applies to the cyber world as well. According to the National Center for missing and exploited children, forty five percent have been asked for personal information by someone they don’t know. Thirty percent have considered meeting and 14 percent have actually met someone that they have only talked to online.
It’s important that parents be aware of kids’ computer activity and educate kids about the online risks. Parents can also take advantage of some technology tools to control kids’ access to adult material and help protect kids from Internet predators, especially when they are not around.
Two technological options are worth considering on fighting for Internet safety; both of them have the pros and cons.
Filters are the most widely used of all the technological tools intended to protect children from exposure to inappropriate materials. They are very effective at keeping out unwanted materials. Filters can be configured to deny access to a substantial amount of adult-oriented sexually explicit material.
However there are drawbacks. A filter that is highly effective at screening out content can “over block” by filtering out acceptable material, such as health related information. Because new material comes out constantly, filters can “under block” content if responsible parties don’t update their systems timely. Content-based filtering systems aren’t subject to this problem. Parents who place a very high priority on preventing exposure to certain materials usually accept the consequences of over blocking.
Monitoring Unlike filtering, which is a prevention strategy, monitoring relies on deterrence and the possibility that a child misbehaving on the Internet will be caught. Monitoring technologies allow parents to surreptitiously or openly track their children’s Internet activities.
With monitoring, children won’t miss out on legitimate Web content, which can be mistakenly screened out by filters, but parents won’t be able to stop specific material from reaching them. There are simple technological ways to monitor children’s Internet use and to review incoming and outgoing e-mail, instant messages, and chat-room dialogues, accessed Web sites, and so on.