I hear regularly about a child who gains access to internet porn via a portal that they were unaware existed! When I ask, parents tell me that they are careful about their children’s internet usage and access by telling me that the family computer is in a public space… or maybe they have put a program that allows them to access the history of the computer.
They are naïve.
Here are some things you need to know in regards to your children’s internet access that you may not be aware of:
Essentially all game systems and game devices have internet access and typically has a search engine built in.
Your child’s ipod, ipad, or smart phone has built in internet search engine. It offers unfiltered and unfettered access to anything on the internet. Videos, chat rooms, live cameras… it is there.
For example, most apple products have something called “restrictions” under “general” in the settings. There, a parent can turn on, code, and limit or restrict video access, internet access, etc.
Safari can be turned off entirely… and I recommend it.
If you think your child needs internet access on the device, (and I would challenge this – most everything a child would need can be gotten from a more narrowly defined Ap.) then I would say the best option would be to purchase a search engine ap… Bsecure and Covenant Eyes are two options that I know people recommend… I am sure there are more… They are filtered and an email can be scheduled to be sent to the address of your choice with a report… and if you get the full account with them, you have all kinds of further features.
Speaking of Aps, many Aps have internet access built in… many, in fact… but most of them only allow the user to access their materials, game page, etc. However, others have built in search engines! Facebook’s Ap is one of these. In order to surf the web, one need only open the Ap and click a link. Since it is what it is, the access will go around any other kind of filter.
Be aware of which Aps are on your child’s device and what their capacities are.
Did you know that your family’s game system probably also has internet capacity? Your Play Station, Xbox, and even your Wii can get online and search online with little effort.
Netflix and other movie systems often have access to all kinds of movies, documentaries, and shows with ratings of all kind… unless you intentionally create settings and passwords. In fact, many modern televisions come equipped with direct internet access! Does yours?
There is another issue as well:
Too often parents are also unaware of what goes on in their child’s texting life… all 3000 of the monthly texts
Too many kids are foolishly (and kids are foolish) sending sexual texts; like historically used to happen with Facebook and email. Texts are even less accountable in nature.
Something came up in my office a year or so ago: a middle school girl had sent a topless photo of herself, via text, to her boyfriend. Showing off, he sent it to a few of his friends… one apparently out of state. In that moment, he had unknowingly broken federal trafficking child porn laws!
Like so many powerful things, there is little room for error with the internet.
Unlike most powerful things, the internet is easily accessible to virtually everyone with no training necessary… and no decades for a system of ethics to develop and be trained into us.
It is vital that we are diligent to monitor our children’s texting habits.
And something you may not know is that many Aps have additional texting capabilities – many games have chat rooms for talk between the players, but there is little-to-no policing of that activity. One game I play has one comment thread that is 18 and over only for crass humor but there isn’t any way to police it.
Numerous Aps and other programs that are otherwise kid-friendly have text capacities or internet access.
Honestly, there is nothing equivalent to being involved enough to see what is going on in your children’s life… make sure you are aware of what they are doing and what access they have… who knows, you might even enjoy some of the same programs.
The way we handle this is: we only use one itunes account shared by the children and me… furthermore, the kids cannot purchase or without the password that only my wife knows (and my office manager)… and we will continue this through their childhood and teen years… once we approve an ap or program, they can play it, but we can still be aware of them – because they automatically upload on my devices too!
Stay in touch. Be aware. Too many moms and dads aren’t even aware of all of the portals for the internet in their homes… don’t let that be you.