Family Computing: Surfing and Access safety
The Family PC
The Internet is a great source
of information and entertainment for all ages that is continuing to grow as
families increasingly recognise its value within the home. A home computer can
be a great way to help your children get ahead at school. With thousands of
educational resources available on the Internet, a PC can be a valuable aid to
education. Of course, with this academic freedom come certain risks.
What are the risks?
The main dangers people are
concerned about can be grouped into:
Contact - the greatest danger in the virtual world is letting online contact lead to a
meeting in the real world with someone who is not what they pretended to be and
who poses a real physical threat. Young people must re-learn the old stranger
danger messages in a new context and use the anonymity of the Net to hide their
Content - legal or illegal, there are some sorts of content that might harm younger
users, or that offend the values and standards that you want to apply to your
children's development. You can agree the ground rules about where your children
go and how they behave, and perhaps choose some software tools to help apply
- with the growth of e-commerce there are increasing concerns that in an
unregulated global market place young people (and adults too!) may be exploited
by dubious marketing practices or simply cheated out of their money.
What can be
As in the real world, the first
line of defence is learning how to behave to keep out of trouble. It starts with
our own Tips for Parents and Carers.
Learn as much as you can about the Internet yourself. Surfing should be a family
activity, so use the Internet together as often as you can and discuss any
problems you encounter. Keep the computer in a room where the whole family can
Getting In Touch
Get to know who your children are meeting online and make sure they are wary of
strangers and never give out any personal information about themselves. Be
particularly careful about children using chat rooms.
Getting Around Keep an eye on the kind of material your children are looking at and make sure
that they go to the sites that you want them to see and not to the ones
that you don't. Consider using some of the filtering tools that are
available to help you.
Unsolicited 'gifts' can contain offensive or potentially harmful files such as
viruses. Teach your children not to open emails and attachments
or download files other than from
people they know and trust offline. Be careful
when you or your children are shopping online. Check that you are dealing with a
bona fide company before giving out your credit card details or committing
yourself to any transaction.
Limit the amount of time your children spend online, and encourage them to keep
up their other activities and friendships. Keep the computer where you can check
how long your children have been on the Net.
Getting The Benefit Think positive. There are some wonderful resources for children to help them
discover, create and connect with other children worldwide. Just as you look out
for good TV programmes for children take the time to find the best and most
useful sites for you and your family.
There are no foolproof ways of
protecting children. The pace of modern living means that it may not always be
possible to be around when they are surfing the web. As a result the popular
solution is to turn to software tools to help you to protect the younger family
Filtering and Monitoring
Many commercial products are
available which can help to limit the potential dangers to children on the
Internet. Installing filters can help you block sites you may not wish your
children to be exposed to eg. sexually explicit material, hate and violence
sites, alcohol and gambling. Software can also help you monitor the time your
child spends on the computer and the material they have been viewing as well as
block outgoing and incoming information.
The most important thing to
remember when it comes to considering which tools to use is that no single
filtering product can be guaranteed to totally protect your child from accessing
inappropriate material. Some older children may be able to find ways to get
around the filter and children may be using other computers which do not have
filters, for example at other people's houses or in Internet cafes. Like a seat
belt in a car, a filter can help protect you but it cannot guarantee you will
not have a crash!
If you need help?
upon and implementing a family computing strategy to offer the best levels of
child protection is a specialist task. PC Village specialises in addressing the
issues arising from PC usage within a family or shared environment. Each
environment tends to be unique making individual appraisal particularly
important before considering the options available.
If this is an area of concern
we’d be pleased to hear from you.