I had the opportunity over the course of the last few weeks to set up Internet parental controls. This was a very interesting experience for me. I had to set up the controls because I have 8 to 12 teenage boys using the internet. I marvelled at how parenting has changed over the years.
Children these days are growing up with more exposure to everything at a younger and younger age. These days 3 and 4 year olds know how to navigate the pc and internet. When I was 3 or 4 years I was now learning to play with my dolls or build blocks.
This exposure comes because over the years access to information good and bad is generally more available. There is the internet, music, tv, cell phones, peers and so much more that influences our youths. And everything is so accessible because the advancement in technology is making to world smaller and smaller everyday.
Now the whole guarding the internet thing became more apparent to me after I installed the parental controls. I used a free service on xp called k9 from Blue Coat. This service has been working really well. I was also quite impressed with windows Vista parental controls. There two sets of controls help to limit certain sites the boys go on like porn sites, gambling, violence, gaming sites and more. You can also block certain sites you do not want them to go on like Facebook, Youtube etc. I have not placed very strict rules on these sites because I think its good for the boys to have exposure to social networking.
These two sets of parental controls offer an activity report, so I was able to find out on Vista that the boys were trying to look at porn, break my password, programmes opened and more. K9 just gives an activity report for the internet. Xp does not have parental controls built in.
There is one other cool feature that allows me to have remote access to the computers the boys are on from home, so I can see what is going on at any point. The programme I used is Log Me In.
Now all this appears to be like a great deal of controlling or trying to control, but as parents or guardians we have to be aware and move with the times.Teenager will find opportunities to sneak to do things parents disapprove of, but as parents we must not encourage these things to be too easily accessible. So I know the boys will try to look at porn they may get videos and dvd’s from their friends but it cannot be said that I know it is easily accessible online and i did nothing to prevent this easy access. I am trying to be a responsible parent/guardian to the young budding men in my care, so I am taking precautions not to encourage certain types of behaviours to be normalised at home. I am not naive they will find means and ways of getting around accessing whatever illicit material they desire.
This whole parental control on the internet has been an eye opening experience for me. A great deal of the morals and values of the institution I work for, as well as my own values came up again and again. I also did not realise the amount of risks and threats, are just as much as the well, good and wonderful areas of the internet. Our children will be exposed to lots of information we must talk to them, let them know right from wrong. We must be informed ourselves and move with the times. We must learn what things our children are being exposed to and not be naive into thinking the times have not changed from when we were growing up. It is only then we can be effective parents.