What Concerns Parents Most

There are too many issues related to Internet safety for kids to list all in one article, but the big ones warrant mentioning several times over. Parents are concerned about their kids doing too much on the Internet, getting into trouble, or even becoming addicted to online activity.

Many teens, when interviewed, have admitted that they use the Internet quite a bit. Some have even stated that they would not be able to live their lives in a normal fashion if they could no longer access the Internet. Indeed, many teens’ interpersonal connections may be lost without the ability to instant message or post on social forums, and this is what worries parents about their kids using the Internet.

As we move into the 21st century, parents are becoming more aware that the current generation of kids is the first generation to experience life without the absence of computers. Every generation in the past has had to live without computers and the Internet except for this one. More troubling still is that this new generation of youth seems unwilling or unable to forge real personal connections to other human beings without the use of the Internet. Some members of the older generation may feel that kids today never write letters anymore, or don’t know how to go out and enjoy the outdoors without the sounds of airplanes overhead, traffic from the Interstate, and a cell phone attached to their hip.

Parents worry about how much their kids use the Internet because of all of these things, but above all, the chance for a very real predator to present themselves in the online (fantasy) world. Teenagers take full advantage of the anonymity of the Internet and often present themselves in different lights to different people. This can be seen as nothing more than testing the waters of the real world to see who they are really comfortable being.

Striking up conversations with strangers isn’t unheard of for most of America’s teenage population. Unfortunately, even the most technically savvy teen can be a little naive when it comes to revealing personal details to strangers online. Teens on the whole are careful, but many slip up. Most have responded to an instant message from a stranger or forged a relationship of some sort with someone they have never met before.

Scarier than your teenager initiating contact with a predator is the thought of a predator contacting your teen. It is nothing difficult to put together a string of search criteria and come up with a kid’s profile. An online profile is something that a teenager fills out on their own, and either completely lies or puts down accurate information. Giving a stranger information like where they live, what their interests and hobbies are, or even physical descriptions is commonplace in the teen community.

Of all the concerns that parents have regarding Internet use among teenagers, the most severe is (or should be) how easily a stranger can find them. Too many kids are too trusting online, and those that would take advantage of that trust are too many. Parents must strike a balance between healthy concern and nosiness, but we must all err on the side of caution– even if your kids don’t like it.

Have a great day!


Windows Vista Parental Control Features

One of the better features of the new Windows Vista operating system is the myriad of parental controls built into it to help parents designate and control where kids go and what they do on the Internet. The controls also monitor and restrict what games kids can play and what programs they can access. Not only does Windows Vista control what kids can do, it can also dictate what time of day a child is allowed on the computer.

All of the settings controls are centralized in one location. You can access them by going to the User Accounts page and looking for the Family and Parental Controls applet. Using this one control panel, you have limit setting ability over what websites your kids are allowed to access. Some third party parental control software packages even work directly with Vista and allow you to use the program directly from this menu. Unfortunately, parental control systems in Windows Vista don’t allow you to constrict these things across a network, so you’ll have to set them up for each computer on your network.

Directly from the easily accessible menu, you can generate activity reports that show where your child has gone and what they’ve done while logged on. You can use these reports for their obvious purpose and just see what they are doing, or you can use the information as a feedback system to see if your parental controls are enough or too much. Often times, you’ll set up a filter and a website that you don’t want them to see will make it past the filter, so you can use the activity report to fine tune your restrictive settings.

One of the great controls Vista allows parents is a time limiter. With so many kids today spending hours on the computer, it is prudent to limit the amount of time your child is looking at the screen. A graph showing time usage by day and hour across the whole week tells you when peak computer use is. All you have to do to restrict their use by time is pull up a grid of the days and hours of a week and click the times block that you don’t want your kids to use the computer. You can the relax and be confident that the parental controls will kick in reliably, even when you are not there to enforce the rule.

Some parents may feel that it is not their business what their kids do online, but the reality is that kids are curious, and if their behavior is not monitored closely, they can find themselves in a world they do not understand, or places full of information that they don’t’ need to know yet. Vigilance and temperance are key when choosing your limitations, but with a little time, you can give your kids a full experience of the Internet and the computer without cutting them off completely.

Have a great day!