These are the thoughts I have behind the idea of putting a proxy (physical equipment or a software program used to allow or block certain websites) into my home. On the one hand it seems like a great idea because the proxy is a safeguard for little ones which helps prevent them from stumbling upon unwanted adult websites. However, there are drawbacks. First, as adults, we are taking away the ability to our kids to make the right choice for themselves. Second, we may be kidding ourselves into thinking that we have battened down the hatches and secured the fort.
Older kids, and sometimes younger ones are figuring ways around proxies faster than we can implement them. Proxies including, the free OpenDNS, or inexpensive NetNanny, etc can soon be circumvented by the sly child.
My advice is to:
- Talk with your son or daughter about the kinds of dangers and annoyances are on the internet. Sometimes pornography is the least of your worries. Cyber-bullying is becoming more of a concern with students online. Good ole Facebook is one of the prime playgrounds where this happening, but it could also be taking place in many of the other social networking sites, like Hi5, MySpace, Second Life or even Club Penguin, which is designed for younger ones.
- Move the computer into family space like the kitchen or family room. Back in the days of one computer per household this was a more easy task to perform, but with the advent of one (sometimes more) laptops per member of the home, this can be a arduous task. As a parent, insist that your son or daughter work on their homework or play their games in the public space.
- Be aware. Recognize that “Alt Tabbing” (Switching between programs with shortcut keys) is not a secret feature only your son or daughters knows. Be sly. Look at running programs in the task-bar. Look to see they aren’t running things in hidden mode. There are plenty of ways to play games inside of otherwise workhorse programs like Microsoft Word or Excel.
- Join your son or daughter in their world, the cyber-world. Have them show you what they are doing and how they do it. Take a genuine interest in their MMORPGS, their social networking, their blogs, their shopping sites, their games, and anything else they will show you. They have so many things tricks up their sleeves, why not learn it from the horses mouth? Not only will you be more wise to them, but in allowing them to teach you, you may grow your relationship into another dimension.
- Words of warning: Sure there are ways to key-log, track and block everything they do, but think to yourself:
- Are you really helping them?
- Are you invading privacy unnecessarily?
- Would you read through their journal, if they kept one?
- Would you want someone else doing this to you?
- Embrace | Educate | Explore together