Parents Internet Guide - Parental Controls

A Parent's Guide to the Internet and it's Dangers to Children, and Parental Controls software information.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Cyberbullying Leads to Arrests

Three boys age 17 and one girl age 18 were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit murder after posting threats in a chatroom. The boy against whom the threats were made was unharmed.

How many times has a story like this appeared in the news this year? Cyberbullying is a serious offense. Your kids can get arrested for it whether the threats are real or made as a joke. This isn't school yard bullying where it comes down to a he said/she said match. These are conversations transcribed and saved on the Internet. Anybody can find them and anybody can print them out. This is hard evidence against your child. Install monitoring software and pay attention to what your kids are saying.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Easiest Identity Theft Targets are Kids

This is because identity theft may not be realized until years later. For instance, when your child tries to open a new bank account or apply for a credit card. Indications that your child's identity may have been stolen:
  • Pre-approved credit card offerings arrive in the mail for your child.
  • Bank, credit card or other financial statements arrive in the mail for your child (excluding accounts held jointly by you and your child).
  • Collection agency notifications or calls to your child.

Identity thieves get personal information from the Internet and use it on credit card applications. Talk to your child about the identifying information they put on the Net and the what could happen if it got into the wrong hands.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Check Your History

If you're interested to see where your kids have been online, but don't have monitoring software, here are step-by-step instructions on how to check their history:
  • Click on My Computer
  • Click on Tools
  • Click Folder Options
  • Find the tab that says Hidden Files and Folders
  • Select the box below it that says Show Hidden Files and Folders
  • Click Apply and Okay
  • Close My Computer and go to the main desktop

To view the files:

  • Click on My Computer
  • Open the C: Drive
  • Open Documents and Settings
  • Find the user you want to access and Open It. Some computers have only one user and others have many; the user file is usually labeled with the user's login name.
  • Click on the folder labeled Local Settings
  • Open the History File. In this file you can see the various days that have been logged and view them, print them or delete them. You can safely delete anything in this folder.

The hidden files and folders are hidden so they aren't accidentally deleted, so it's probably a good idea to re-hide them after you have checked them. To do this simply follow the steps you took to unhide the files, instead selecting Do Not Show Hidden Files and Folders.

You can also check any recently opened documents by clicking the Start button and holding the arrow over the Documents tab.

Friday, November 11, 2005

MySpace Not the Only Danger Zone

So many articles and blogs are about the hazards of MySpace, but that is not the only teen focused networking site. Another popular one, Xanga, has been thrown into the news recently after more and more parents are discovering what their children are posting on their blogs. Xanga also offers an instant messaging system, so anybody can contact your kid. So many lewd photos and raunchy comments about sex and alcohol are posted on these sites.

The thing is, blogs aren't bad things and the sites mentioned are intended to be playgrounds for pedophiles. Kids are just naive. It is a parents' responsibility to keep them safe. It is my belief that anything published on the Internet is public viewing so a parent has just as much reason to read as a stranger does.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Research Your Safety Software

You never make a purchase without shopping around first, right? So don't do it with parental monitoring software either.
  1. Identify what the problem areas are. Are you worried about chat rooms, instant messengers, emails, adult websites, etc.? Different programs target different safety issues and some are all inclusive. Know what you're paying for.
  2. Check reviews. Sites like Tucows, About and Download frequently review Internet products. Read up on what you're interested in.
  3. Check FAQs. Some software programs are annoyingly difficult to use or understand. Read the FAQs to get s sense of the kinds of questions the software developer is asked most often. If the answers seem technical or very details that may be a sign that the program isn't user friendly.
  4. Look for a help desk. Any quality E-Product website will have a help desk. Make sure its easy to use. Also, look for easily accessible e-mails addresses. Sites that are confident in their products, won't hide their contact info from you.

Safe surfing!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Good News in MySpace Abduction

17-year-old, Monica Sharp is back at home with her family after having runaway to be with 57-year-old Jeff Nichols whom she met through MySpace. Nichols positioned himself as a 12-year-old boy at first, eventually revealing his real age. Nichols has been arrested on other charges as the authorities gather evidence in the cyber crime.

Please read more. Also, regularly check Perverted Justice for information on other children that have gone missing through cyber related crimes.