How effective are parental controls for your child's safety?

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Children are figuring out how to use the internet at a much younger age than in the past. Kids 1 or 2 years old are exposed to computer devices to help distract them. They quickly learn how to press the right buttons on smartphones, tablets and other devices. It is great that kids are learning to use technology at such a young age, but it also can create nightmares for the adults.

The internet is full of information and entertainment for people of all ages, but not everything found on the internet is appropriate for young children. It is up to the parents to make sure that the kids are not exposed to things they are not prepared to handle or that could put them into a dangerous situation. Parents need to find ways to protect their children when they are not around to monitor it themselves.

The Use of Parental Controls

One of the things that parents are turning to is parental controls. This is software that can prevent a child from different activities when they are on the computer. The controls vary in what they can do. Some of the common things that parental controls can do include:

  • Limiting the sites that a child can go to -- It is possible to block specific sites or it may be possible to block any site that is not certified for a specific age group.
  • Limiting the time spent on the computer -- Many parents worry about a child spending too much time on a computer and turn to these controls that will shut the computer down for the child if they reach their limit for the day.
  • Protection from malicious software -- Antivirus protection not only protects computers from malware, it also offers parental controls that can help protect the child and computer.

Parental controls can do many things, but parents still have to wonder if they are really protecting the child. For many parents, the key is learning how to use the parental controls in the right way.

Using Parental Controls

In order to get the most from parental controls, it is important that parents learn how to use them. This requires a little bit of thought about what they want their children to be exposed to, what the children are capable of doing and how the parent wants to protect themselves and the computers from problems the kids may use.

  • Watching what kids can see -- Statistics have shown that one out of every 10 kids under the age of 15 is trying to find pornography on the internet. Besides pornography, there are sites that offer violent content or are offering content that is not suitable for a young child. In this case different parental controls may have to be used. A parent may want to use antivirus protection to prevent a child from going to sites that offer this type of content, or they may want to go to sites that offer some content that is suitable and other content that is not and use the controls on that site. A parent needs to put as many controls in place as they can to prevent the child from viewing unwanted content.
  • Knowing what the child is capable of -- Children that have been exposed to computers from a young age know how to get around many of the systems that are designed to protect them. It is important that the parent makes sure that the controls they choose are not easy to get around for the child. It is also important to monitor the activity of the child on the internet.
  • Protection -- One of the biggest issues that a child can create when they visit unsafe sites is introducing malicious software to the computer. Malware is preventable, many times through the use of antivirus protection software. Having this software is something that can protect both the child and the parent and is a basic need for any computer device.

If the question that parents have is whether parental controls and antivirus protection work, the answer is yes and no. They can be effective because they have the capability to prevent children from accessing things they should not when they are using a computer. While they are effective as a tool for parents to use, they are not perfect.

Parents need to make sure that the parental controls and antivirus protection is turned on at all times. They need to make sure they are checking the controls and making sure they are suitable for the age of their child. More importantly, they still need to be involved with their children and their computer usage. Doing all of these things will keep children safe. If you have any thoughts or ideas, please take the time to share them with us.

Photo Credit: wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

Peter Davidson works as a senior business associate helping brands and start ups to make efficient business decisions and plan proper business strategies. He is a big gadget freak who loves to share his views on latest technologies and applications.

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