A friend recently told me of an amusing experience she had with her son in the quest to satisfy his love of trucks. It turned out that that her innocuous Google search for “delivery” not only returned matches for delivery vehicles, but also showed graphic pictures of child-birth. Stumbling to close the browser in a mild panic (before swiftly resorting to pulling the plug), it was decided that Google’s ‘Safe Search’ feature was to become a permanent parental control in her household.
According to a recent survey of US parents, the biggest concern about their children’s Internet usage was for their personal safety – the viewing of explicit pictures online topping the list. Tied for second was communication with strangers, visiting websites with inappropriate content, or receiving unsolicited emails. Parents were only mildly less concerned about kids revealing personal information, spending too much time online, downloading content that cost money, or being bullied.
Who’s the boss?
According to the study, while nearly all parents had spoken to their kids about acceptable behaviour online, only half of these had used the parental controls offered by software and videogame companies, search engines, and phone manufacturers to safeguard their child’s digital experience.
Online tools and safeguards
Parental controls can be broadly broken down into three categories: content filters, usage controls and monitoring.
As a parent, try to understand the technology that your kids use to prevent much eye rolling and snorts of laughter at your foray into all things Internet. While you might feel like a resident of dorksville you’ll find that parental controls are made for parents and are easier than you think.
And if all else fails, you can always pull the plug out of the wall.
Check out our latest Online Safety Series fact sheet.
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