How to use internet filters to protect your children from porn, cyber bullying and online predators.
I had just finished a cyber-safety and anti bullying assembly in a suburb of LA when the principal of the school approached me. A parent had read about my tour in the paper and he wanted me to meet with him and his son. We could not meet on school grounds because the son had been suspended long term for cyber harassment and the transmission of child porn. We met at a Starbucks.
When we sat down he explained that he wanted me to give his son a lecture on the dangers of social media abuse. II asked Dad if he had loaded any filters on his son’s tablet and phone to screen out pornography. He had not. I asked him if he had used any apps to monitor and limit his son’s social media use. He had not. I asked him if he had ever spoken with his son about the dangers of internet porn and transmitting naked images of girlfriends or friends through social media. He had not. I asked him if he had ever spoken with his son about the importance of not harassing, threatening or bullying others through social media. He had not.
Social media can be overwhelming. As a father, you must teach your children to navigate this modern minefield. There are so many platforms: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, Kick, flickr, Pinterest, Tumblr, Vine and more. How do you monitor it all? How do you protect your child from cyber bullying, pornography, predators and other negative influences? How do you keep track of what is happening on the family computer, the lap top in their room, and the multiple smartphones and tablets that exist in your home? You need help.
You can use technology to fight technology. Begin by downloading an “internet filter.” These filters will allow you to see what is happening on your child’s smart phone without actually picking up his/her phone. These filtering programs will create a dashboard on your computer you can use to monitor multiple devices.
The filters will block access to pornographic sites as well as violent sites or sites that promote suicide and self-harm. They will also be able to give you a snapshot of what your student is doing with social media. These services do cost money. However, considering the protection they provide, they are extremely affordable.
Here is a list of filters and tools that will help you monitor your child’s use of the internet and social media. These tools will help you stop inappropriate messages/images from going out and from coming in. They will also monitor your child’s social media use for you and report to you through email alerts. You do not have to individually check your students Facebook, twitter, etcetera, accounts. The below sites do it all for you (in varying degrees.)
www.uknowkids.com – An all in one service that monitors just about every social media platform and reports to you via instant emails. Provides a dashboard that allows you to track nearly everything your child does online.
www.netnanny.com – Another all in one service that helps parents monitor online behaviors. One of the most powerful internet filters on the market. Especially affective against porn.
www.truecare.com – Monitors social media and reports to you like the above sites, however, does not cover as many platforms.
The above companies have some of the best reputations in the industry. However, there are many more. You can Google “social media monitoring tools for parents” or “internet filters”.
The following sites do not monitor social media, however, they are some of the best sites for help if your child has been bullied, stalked, or harassed online.
www.haltabusektd.org – Works with kids and teens that are experiencing online bullying.
www.cyberangels.org – Volunteers that work to track down stalkers and bullies online.
www.wiredsafety.com – Deals with cyber abuse. If the situation involves any sort of physical/life threats parents must report to the local police before Wired Safety will get involved.
There are many ways you can use technology to fight technology in addition to downloading an internet filter. You can get assistance directly from service providers themselves. Every service provider includes parental controls in their package. However, as I tour the US as an anti-bullying speaker and survey my audience, very few parents are actually using these tools.
With most providers, it is as simple as grabbing your student’s phone, entering your email and access code and using the menu button to navigate to “parental controls” or “settings”. There are many creative ways you can limit your child’s access. For example, at many of the schools I go to, administrators complain of something they call texting fatigue. Students are falling asleep at their desks because they have stayed up all night texting their peers. Teens text an average of 60 times a day or 3417 times per month. Much of that texting is occurring late in the evening or early in the morning.
You can program your student’s phone not to accept or be able to send out texts at certain times of the day or night. You can allow certain numbers (yours, relatives, and emergency numbers) within that limited time, however. You can also limit times that your student can make and receive voice calls.
You can do this. Be the parent. Your child needs help to make good decisions. Use technology to help him/her deal with technology.
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