The Internet is a great source for information about ANYTHING. This article will discuss some of the things on the Internet that parents need to be aware of as well as some suggestions on how to keep that stuff away from your children.
For children, the Internet has replaced the library of 20 years ago that they used to use for school research. But when I say the Internet is a great information source for ANYTHING, I mean it. There are many potentially disturbing images and other content that is not for children’s eyes.
Porn: Let’s face it, sex sells. The porn industry in the world is HUGE and the Internet has had a big part in making it so successful. And a child doesn’t even have to be searching for it to stumble upon one of these sites. And once you get on them, many times it’s not easy to get off them as when you close a window one or MANY pop up ads for other similar porn sites pop up. This causes a chain reaction and you may have to resort to just shutting off the computer to stop it. Thing is though, the average 10 year old curious child isn’t going to do that right away. These sites are very plentiful and they don’t just involve regular sex. Many of them depict images of sadistic and disturbing sexual practices so disturbing that I won’t mention the content here.
Disturbing images sites: These have become very popular. Want to see what someone looks like after they’ve taken a shotgun to their chin? How about what someone looks like after jumping off the 30th floor of a high rise? You can find those things pretty easily. You can even find real video of someone getting murdered or killed. Or even the uncensored videos of the brutal beheadings of the hostages in Iraq.
Weapon building: You can easily find sites that will show you illustrated instructions or videos on how to build weapons. Common examples are pipe bombs, slings, explosives, as well as poisonous mixtures. Most of the items and ingredients that a child needs to make these things can be found under the kitchen sink or in a junkyard.
Most of these children that have committed heinous crimes used the Internet. After agents seized their computers they found things like bomb making tutorials, weapon building instructions. All of those things they had accessed or downloaded from the Internet without their parent’s knowledge.
What can you do about it? Here are a few suggestions.
Most homes today have a computer. Many of them have a several. First thing. Do NOT allow you children to have an Internet capable computer in their bedroom. You are asking for trouble. Kids commonly access many of these things from their own computer in their bedroom. And there’s more. Many young girls have chatted with older men on the Internet and many of these men are in fact pedophiles. The United States Department of Defense’s computer was hacked into a few years ago. They ended up catching the hacker and found that it was a fifteen-year-old boy who spent a lot of time on the computer and Internet in the privacy of his room. His parents had no idea what he was doing. Learning to be a hacker isn’t hard at all and ANYONE who has a lot of time on his or her hands can learn how to hack.
Get familiar with your PC: You, the parent needs to learn as much as you can about computers and the Internet. Many children know a lot more about computers than their parents do and can run circles around mom and dad on the Internet.
Windows XP: Windows capable computers or “PCs” are the most popular home computers in the world. Windows XP is the operating system that is the most common today. What is good about Windows XP is that you can set it up to be password protected. Everyone can have their own accounts, the administrator (the parent) is the only one who can install programs and can also decide who can access what on the computer. If you find your computer is still running Windows 98 or worse yet, Windows ME, look into upgrading your operating system. Depending on the age of your computer, you may have to upgrade some hardware as well.
Child protection programs: One of the most popular ones is called “Net Nanny”. You can learn more at www.netnanny.com. Another one is called “Cyber Sitter”. It’s not as good (in my opinion) but it’s still better than nothing. You can find out more on www.cybersitter.com.
Spy programs: You can also install Internet Spy programs that record all e-mails, sites visited, chats and/or anything else that is typed with the keyboard. They also take screen shots (pictures of what’s being viewed) however often you wish. The best one out there as far as I’m concerned is “Spector Pro 5.0”. You can find out more about that program and other similar ones on www.spectorsoft.com.
Put the computer in a high traffic area of your home. Somewhere where you can peek over their shoulder once in a while.
I normally suggest that kids don’t access the Internet when the parents are not home but that can be difficult when both parents work. If you don’t get home until 6pm, make sure you have a child protection program and a spy program installed.
Many parents make the mistake of using the computer for a baby sitter. Pay attention to what they are doing on the Internet. The World Wide Web is a fun and informative place just like our own planet earth, but just like earth, it can be a scary and harmful place too. It’s important to keep an eye on what your children are doing on the Internet.