Internet Filtering/Monitoring Software

Part of a good solution to the problem of Internet dangers is installing filtering/monitoring software on your computer.

Filtering

Internet filtering involves allowing (white-listing) or blocking certain specific websites as well as blocking websites that contain certain keywords. For very young children, it is desirable to have a white-list of sites that they are permitted to visit. A parent may provide shortcuts to these sites on the child’s desktop (the computer’s main screen). Older children and teens should be restricted in their searches by a list of banned keywords. Almost all filtering software comes with a default list of disallowed keywords already in place. This list can be expanded as needed.

Monitoring

Internet monitoring involves keeping a log or record of all the websites visited, emails sent, Internet chats attended, etc. Some monitoring software only keeps a log of questionable activities, such as searching for disallowed keywords. Other monitoring solutions are very elaborate and extensive. The most basic reports are simply stored on the computer where the software is installed. In this scenario, a parent needs to log in to view the reports. There are also monitoring software that emails parents a daily or weekly report. Some monitoring software allows the parents to have access to the reports at any time and even view what is happening on another computer real-time. The more elaborate the software, the higher the cost. Some higher-end monitoring solutions also have ongoing monthly costs.

Disadvantages

Most, though not all, filtering and monitoring software cost money. Even if the software itself is free, there will need to be some type of investment when installing and configuring the software. It may mean hiring someone to come to your home to give you a tutorial on how to use the software, or it may simply mean an investment of your time as you become familiar with the software.

Filtering software isn’t perfect. Some inappropriate material is bound to slip through. Some websites are deliberately mislabelled with neutral, unrelated keywords so they will not be disallowed by filtering software. Also, some harmless/useful sites will be blocked. For instance, searches for, “breast cancer” and “chicken breast recipes” will be blocked.

If older children/teens have extended periods of computer use with no direct supervision, and they are determined to get around the filtering/monitoring software, they will likely manage to do so. There are ways to eventually disable or circumvent most software on the market.

Advantages

Filtering software will make it less likely that a child will be exposed to something inappropriate. Monitoring software will make youths less likely to try to access inappropriate websites because they know that their parents will be informed about what they viewed or tried to view. Other techniques to minimize the risks associated with Internet use can be used along with this software. Filtering and monitoring software is just one key component of a good overall plan to keep your children safe while online.

Parental Control is a good, basic Internet filtering/monitoring software that is available for free.

© Celesta Thiessen

 
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