Web Safety and Kids

By David Adress
President, Bitochon Technologies

Do you know what your children are doing on the Internet? Does your child stay up late talking to friends online? Does your child quickly change what’s on screen when you enter the room? Do you notice inappropriate web sites listed in the history section of the web browser? If you’re going to allow Internet usage in your home, you should familiarize yourself with the potential dangers. I composed some useful information that you can use to help safeguard your children and home from the dangers of the Internet. This by no means is a complete list. You can visit the library or go online for additional resources.
Bitochon being a website design and software development company can help you adding parental control on your personal computers,laptops,ipads etc that can potentially reduce the risk of your kids having access to inappropriate content on the internet.

Web Browsing

If you ever heard the term “surfing the net” your web browser is the program that makes it happen. The web browser allows you to view hypertext content (web pages) and move around the Internet through hyperlinks. You point-and-click these hyperlinks with your mouse. There are numerous inappropriate and easily accessible content on the web. Your child can surf to anyone of these pages either on purpose or by accident. This content can also be delivered by pop-ups. Pop-ups are other instances of your web browser opening to unwanted content. Most anti-virus programs on the market contain pop-up blockers. You can view your browser’s history to find the kind of web sites that have been viewed. To view the history in IE (Internet Explorer) click “View” on the drop down menu then “Explorer Bar” then “History”. You can adjust the number of days to store in history under “Internet Options”. Please be aware that your child can clear the history. If this is the case you may want to install some type of filtering either through your software, your router or subscriber to a service.

Blogs

Blogs are online journals that are frequently updated and are intended for the general public. Besides the dangers of posting personal information there are legal dangers. Children may post copyright or slanderous information about an individual opening up the possibility of a lawsuit.

Instant Messaging

Instant Messaging is a form of real-time electronic communication between two or more users who are online simultaneously. A lot of these programs also allow you to store personal profiles, which can be viewed by anyone. There are many types of IM programs with different features. Some Instant Messaging programs allow access to email and chat rooms. You should always familiarize yourself and determine if options can be disabled. The one I use contains a logging feature that records all IM communications between users. You can monitor some of these logs to determine inappropriate usage.

Chat Rooms

A chat room is an area online where you can chat with other members in real-time about a specific topic. Chat rooms are known to harvest different predators who will try to lure children into a meeting or perhaps trick them into providing personal information. Some chat programs contain block and Ignore functionality enabling you to only allow chatting from trusted members.

Email

Email is the ability to send and receive electronic text messages. There are numerous viruses, spam and inappropriate material sent through email on a daily basis. You should have appropriate spam/anti-virus filtering software to block as much as possible. Some online services will offer this as part of their email service. There are also many places online where you can sign up for a free email account. Keep in mind that just because you setup your child’s e-mail account they may have additional email accounts elsewhere.

File Sharing

File sharing allows users to share all types of files over the Internet. You can share music, pictures, videos, applications, and of course viruses. Children can very easily download and install file-sharing programs on your computer. You need to be careful as to what’s being shared. There were incidents where parents were held liable for children downloading illegal pirated music. You should also understand that you may be exposing your private files if their open to that file-share.

Spy-ware

These are small programs that run in the background of your computer collecting Internet usage patterns without your knowledge. Someone who isn’t protected may be running hundreds of these programs unknowingly. These programs also tend to slow down your computer. You can protect yourself from most spy-ware by running anti-spyware software.

Virus/Trojans

New viruses and security threats are popping up on a daily basis. You need to install firewall and anti-virus software. You should always make sure that your computer has the latest operating system and anti-virus updates.

Network Security

Many people have the convenience of wireless Internet since it’s so easy to setup. You should be aware that the standard installation does not protect you. Someone can easily share your Internet connection or hack into your router. At a minimum you should password protect your router.

In summary, you should install firewall, anti-spyware and anti-virus software, always maintain the latest updates, and teach your children to use the Internet responsibility. Your children should understand that they should never give out any personal information, never chat with strangers, never reply or click links in unsolicited emails, and most important to report any unusual Internet behavior to a parent. To view in Spanish.

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