There comes a point in every child’s life when they become curious about the world of computers and the internet. This is probably one of those moments you come to dread as a parent, as it’s one of those situations that has one hundred questions but no right or wrong answers. To be let loose on the internet is a dangerous thing for a younger child. We all know the dangers lurking a few clicks away. But as we know, there comes a point when trust becomes more important than protection – at some point the gates to the digital world are going to have to be opened.
Of course, the answer to the question ‘What age should I allow my child online?’ has no right or wrong answer, and it’s going to vary greatly from parent to parent. But as the importance and prominence of the internet has grown over the years, the answer to that question has become more and more significant.
That being said, there are ways of easing your child into the digital world, without opening the gates completely. There are a number of applications available that can help a parent find ways to expose their child slowly. For the very young age group, there are games, puzzles and learning programs that are great ways for children to learn how to use a computer, while learning and practising important skills at the same time. For most parents, exposing children to just using a computer is the first (and more important) step than using the internet as a whole.
When they get to the age where access to the world wide web becomes inevitable, there are applications that can help make the transition, without jumping in at the deep end. Parental control programs, like ‘Net Nanny’ can be installed on the home computer and block any website with certain words in. This sort of software will have a variety of settings, meaning you can control exactly what you want blocked (usually be selecting categories) and what you want filtered or let through. I think this is perfect way to take most of the worry out of letting them loose, especially if they’re going to be surfing when an adult can’t always be watching.
The final step is of course, full access. It’s an inevitability that at some point the boundaries and barriers have to come down. At this point you may want give full control, while maintaining some sort of supervision. This is where monitoring software comes in. With computer monitoring software, you can keep tabs on everything that’s going on while your away, and you can check through the reports at a later date.
Applications like Gecko Computer Monitoring Software can be installed and run in hidden mode, with only you being able to access the software. The program will then take periodic screenshots, log keystrokes, monitor applications used, websites visited, documents created/saved/deleted/opened and more, so that you can make sure you’re alerted when a dodgy website has been visited or an inappropriate chat conversation has taken place.
You can then skim through the reports on the computer itself, or have them emailed to you to look at remotely. The software can also be run in visible mode, with an icon in the task bar, which although is password protected will let users know they are being monitored. Applications like Gecko Monitor are perfect for not only easing a child through the digital gates but checking up on older children, who may be up to no good…
How do you keep track of what your kids are doing online?