Child Safety On The Information Superhighway
What Are Your Kids Doing Online?
It is no need to emphasize that global network Internet is the favorite place of rest and play for kids and teens. Like a great megalopolis has museums and universities, libraries and places to have fun, Internet is full of different info resources and abilities to meet people from all walks of life and styles of living. And like any great city, global network has its risks and dangers, especially for kids: places, which better no visit and persons, whom better avoid.
The most visible worry in Internet for all parents is pornography. But very often your kid’s safety is threatened not only because of inadvertent impact of adult stuff. Actually a lot of invisible threats for kids’ safety are hidden in online communication with strangers (chatrooms, e-mails etc.). Here are just few of terrible examples:
May, 2002 – the 13-teen year old girl from Connecticut was raped and brutally murdered by young man whom she met in online chatroom. Her body was found in the remote ravine in Greenwich. Christina Long (murdered girl’s name) was an altar girl and captain of her school cheerleading squad. But policemen told that girl used almost a dicker provocative screen names on the America Online account she accessed from personal computer in her bedroom. Besides, she routinely had sex with partners met in different chat rooms.
August, 2001 – the 15-teen year old girl from Massachusetts was kidnapped by the couple from New York which she met in one Internet chatroom. They held captive, tortured, raped and after killed the girl. As police report said: the girl had told them in an online chat that she wants to run away from parents and they offered to help her.
A lot of such stories you can find in Internet if just ask about child Internet safety and to risks and hazards of online dating. Of course, no so shocking but no less and even more spread stories are related to disclosure the parents’ private information to strangers (like address, name, credit card number etc.) or doing something that violates rights of another human and can be illegal.
How Can You Ensure Your Child’s Safety?
Certainly, the best way to protect your child in global network is to be with her/him every moment together. But at least it is not any time possible and further can cause your children’s objections when they grow into their teens.
So, what do you can do?
First of all you should install on your personal computer a special software for filtering and blocking access to suspicious sites. To our opinion the best programs in this industry are Cyber Patrol (extensive and constantly updates list of inappropriate sites) and WebChaperone (uses heuristic algorithms to recognize and block pornography). Both of them work very well, keeping your kids in safe from pornography.
But this filtering software has the main purpose to block children access to sites for adult and will be probably powerless to decide the issues of Internet communication. You cann’t tell previously which communication will be safe for your kid and which one can be dangerous.
Of course, is possible to use a draconian approach – it includes blocking access to forums and chatrooms fully, but it doesn’t seem to be very wise, because it carries large social harm depriving children of activities that are very important for their own development.
The solution of this problem can lie in using different kinds of monitoring software to provide your kids safety. A very interesting example of this kind of software is Family Keylogger – a tiny utility that remains in personal computer’s memory, which is you interested in, and notes to a special log file all keystrokes. Therefore, you can easily see what your kid writes while being online (i.e. you can follow all communication via instant chat rooms, messaging software, e-mail etc.). Family Key Logger works in completely hidden mode, guarantying that your activity remains unnoted. Surely, if you think that using this software for prevention and collecting evidence is unfair, you may prefer to notify your kid about controlling of online activities just for his/her security.
Definitely we couldn’t review and cover all sides of kid's online safety in so short article. Rather we just showed some issues and offered possible solutions. It depends of your choice, which methods to prefer and how to secure your kid’s safety on the informational superhighway.