We live in a world that is increasingly dependent upon computers and the Internet in order to achieve even the most modest of tasks that once would have taken a drive to the library. This drive to the library could have taken anywhere from a matter of minutes and a cursory glance through the card catalog or hours spent sifting through dusty shelves and outdated collections of books in order to find relevant information to the topic being researched.
Unfortunately, the clear advantages of the information age, such as ready access to information twenty four hours a day seven days a week with just the click of a few keys is also proving to be a logistical nightmare when it comes to safeguarding the security of homes and businesses around the world. There is so much information floating around in cyberspace and we unwittingly contribute even more information each and every time we enter a phone number, address, or bank account number into our computers. The problem is that we often need to enter these things in order to get the information or merchandise we require from our computers.
To safeguard your children from Internet predators and material that simply isn’t appropriate for their viewing needs enable parental controls on the computer. Your children may protest but a few hours of their complaints is well worth the peace of mind you have knowing that nothing should be getting through that you don’t want them to view. This will result in some uproarious moments as favorite websites may be tagged for ridiculous reasons you’ll have to take those on a case-by-case basis and decide whether or not you want to allow your children access to these sites that are often tagged with no real reason or inappropriateness. No system is perfect but doing nothing would be far worse.
Another thing you should do in order to more closely monitor their Internet activity is keep the computer in a centralized area in the home rather than allowing them to bring computers into the privacy of their bedrooms where they are unobserved. You should also keep in mind that even the best and brightest among us are quite likely to be outshone by our children when it comes to computer savvy. Do not trust that minimal efforts will net the big results you are hoping to achieve.
Discuss proper online safety procedures with your children, especially your teens. Remind them of these things on a regular basis and drill it into them. Safety is the most important thing when having discussions online, in chat rooms, or even in weblogs and websites. It is amazing how much information is accidentally given away through conversations that would never have been given away if direct questions had been asked in order to get that information.
For this reason it is even more important that you stress the urgency of secrecy on the Internet. Team names, practice times, school names, and sports participation should be kept to a minimum on the Internet as all of these things can be used in order to isolate and identify your teen. Photos should also be limited in all honesty, particularly those in cheerleading or ball team uniforms that can easily be used to identify location as well as those that include car tags and other relevant information that is identifying in nature. While this may seem harsh to your teen it is much better to be harsh with them than go through the heartache and uncertainty of a missing teen or worse because of Internet predators.
The safety of your teen is the most important thing you can protect on your home computer and if you do not make him or her aware of the risks he or she will not take those risks seriously. Part of home security is protecting your family members from themselves as much as it is to protect them from the world outside.