Friday, February 04, 2005

How do I protect my children from the Internet?

I saw this the other day, it was a question in a newsletter on computer problems.

I am trying to find some kind of parental control program that will log what my teenage kid does online--e-mail, passwords, and such. My daughter has recently changed all her passwords and has become very secretive. We're concerned that this may lead to trouble. Does anyone know of a program that is reliable and has had no problems associated with it? I would be most appreciative!

I thought that of all the questions this on had have the least technical answer. Part of dealing with computers a helpdesk Tech is that computer problems are really people problems that have wires. I have to be sure that I address the real problem which a lot of the time is not even technical or hardware. She was not really asking about how to deal with a computer but how to deal with her daughter.

This was my answer:

Trying to solve family interpersonal communication problems with technology is like having group therapy at a car repair shop (which, in my experience, is probably how my car is fixed). The surest way to get to the root of the problem is by talking about it with your daughter. Making time to just talk, especially about the computer, is important. Share your concerns with her, sharing halves the burden because as a teenager she is getting old enough to start making the “bad” decisions you made and she needs to know you care and can help. Talk about your own experiences growing up, but most of all listen and don’t judge her unless it is really dangerous. Your concern is the first line of defense. The children who are used by online perpetrators have little or no communication with their parents on a regular basis.

The most effective and inexpensive parental control program is regular sit down meals with conversation, a PC in the kitchen or some easily viewable place, lock the computer or switch users and you and Dad or Mom have “The Password” and kids get on the PC for a specific reason only when they ask and the parents unlock the session.

Parental control programs are like reading her diary, unless you have a strong relationship you may find yourself very disappointed in what you discover. It would be better to learn about her through a relationship, through words she speaks to you.

I have to admit I am trying to get a prize if they pick my answer I get a training cd. What you see is that to rely on technology to keep our kids safe we are relying on systems that can be broken or worked around. The only sure way to keep your kids safe is to follow a Christian path in your own life.

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