Monday, June 15, 2009

Parental Control

Over the past 15 years in this business, I can count on half of a hand the number of customers who actively monitor their children’s internet behavior. This observation falls far short of being scientifically valid but it sure appears that the vast majority of you either don’t care what you child does while he is alone with the computer or don’t realize the danger.

For this article, I studied the latest research concerning children and their exposure to online pornography and found some interesting (if not obvious) findings. Each year about 40 percent of teens and preteens visit sexually explicit sites either deliberately or accidentally. The study suggested that those teenagers who frequent porn sites more often are more likely to view sex as a purely physical function and to view women as sex objects.

Perhaps not surprisingly, boys are much more likely to seek out pornography than girls, and use increases with age. One study I read indicated that 38 percent of 16- and 17-year-old male Internet users deliberately visited X-rated sites in the past year, compared with 8 percent of girls. I suspect that somewhere between 62 and 92 percent of teen users were not exactly truthful in answering the survey questions.

Both of my readers probably read this silly article for the astounding wisdom, high brow humor and occasional tidbit of computer advice and not for the “birds and bees” talk but, friends, this kinda bugs me. From what I have seen on your computers over the years, you parents need to at least open your eyes to what your child can run into on the internet. You need to know that there are ways to monitor and even control it it if you wish to do so.

To that end, here are some free or low-cost ways to monitor and control internet usage. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you but I’m going to anyway: None of these are a substitute for the watchful eyes of an involved parent. None of these are 100% foolproof but they are useful for when you can’t be there for your child.

Some versions of Windows Vista Home versions have built-in parental controls. These controls help parents determine which games their children can play, which programs they can use, and which websites they can visit—and when. Parents can restrict computer use to specific times and trust that Windows Vista will enforce those restrictions, even when they're away from home.

Windows XP has no built-in parental control software so you’ll have to install some. Two free products worth considering that are worth considering are K9 Web Protection ( and OpenDNS ( These are excellent programs, are 100% free and quite effective.

I have been a user of a product called NetNanny for years. NetNanny ( is a full-featured software product that provides content filtering, monitoring, recording of chat conversations and more. It is quite powerful and effective. It costs $29.00 per year. You can download a 14-day free trial by visiting their website.

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