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Internet Parental Controls: Why You Should Use Them

Are you the parent of a teenager or a younger child who uses the internet?  If you are, is your computer and the internet protected with parental controls?  If not, this is something that you will want to do.  Although many children are able to use the internet without running into any problems, like online harassment or communicating with an online predator, are you really willing to take the chance?  If not, you should use parental controls.

One of the many reasons why you should set parental controls is because you can protect your child when they are online.  Although parental controls come in a number of different formats, most allow you to block websites that you don’t want your child to view.  This means that if you don’t want your child to use MySpace or other social networking websites you can easily block them.

Another reason you should have working parental controls on your child’s computer is because they are easy to install.  Most parental controls are self-explanatory.  This means that even if you don’t know how to use a computer, you can still get protection set.  For example, if your computer uses Internet Explorer, all you need to do is open a new window and select “Internet Options”, from the heading of “Tools”. There, you will find a tab that is labeled “Content”, and here is where you can set your parental controls.

In addition being easy to install, parental controls are also often easy to find.  In fact, many are also free.  If you use Internet Explorer, as previously stated, parental controls are already built in.  Another popular internet browser is that of FireFox.  Although FireFox does not have built-in parental controls, they do make it easy for to find add-ons, many of which are free.  Even if you must purchase a parental control program for your child, you should know that they costs are more than worth it.

Unfortunately, many parents do not install parental controls, as they believe it will limit their own use of the internet.  Just because you want your child to avoid websites that have crude language or violent themes, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t want to view them.  But, did you know that most internet controls for parents can be used on shared family computers?  This is because they let you set up a password to override any websites that you would like to access.

Since parental controls are often free or very affordable, easy to install, and a great way to keep kids safe, you should use them.  However, before you get a false sense of confidence, there are some important things that you should know.  First, know that many teenagers are computer smart.  Your teen may actually know how to get around parental controls, even if they don’t know your password.  That is why you will occasionally want to check the computer.  If you block a website, like MySpace.com, occasionally check it to make sure that it is still blocked.   Speaking of having a password, be sure not to give this password to your child.  If they need to gain access to a website that was accidentally blocked, like for a school research project, you will want to use the password yourself to unblock the website, even just temporarily.  As nice and as mature as your child is, there are some who go through great lengths to be able to socialize online with other internet users.

Internet Safety Tools that Can Protect Your Child

What is nice about internet safety tools that are designed for parents is that you have so many options. Typically, you will find that most of these tools fall under the heading of parental controls.  For information on ways that you can protect your child with the use of internet safety tools, please continue reading on.

The ability to rate websites and set levels for what you want your child to view online is an option that you have.  This often is featured in the safety tools that are provided by Internet Explorer, as well as other similar internet browsers.  What you do is decide what type of content your want your child to view.  Would you like to keep your child away from internet websites that use crude or violent language?  If you do, set your website level ratings to say so and the websites should automatically be blocked.

In addition to blocking websites through the use of website rating tools, you also have the ability to outright block websites.  This is another option that Internet Explorer gives you.  For example, if you would like to block social networking websites, like MySpace and Facebook, all you need to do is enter in the website address and hit the block option.  Internet Explorer also gives you the option to let a list of approved websites.

Keyword trackers can also be used; however, there are some individuals, including other parents, who consider them to be an invasion of privacy.  That is why it is important for you to use your best judgment and make the decision as a parent.  Keyword trackers work by recording each word that is typed by your child.  Many parents find keyword tracker programs a great way to catch their child if they think that they are communicating with someone older or a sexual predator online.  Keyword tracker programs are a nice option to have, but they do need to be purchased, as they aren’t free like many other parental controls.

There are also internet safety tool programs out there that work to keep your personal information safe.  This is a great way to make sure that your child doesnít share personal information about themselves with strangers online.  Although these programs do vary, you can usually enter in information that you want to prevent your child from sharing online, like your phone number, email address, or home address.  The program, if it works properly, should catch the information before it is sent.