Let’s face it, parental control software can be a hassle sometimes. Blocking legitimate sites as well as letting explicit sites through without even a hint of trying to block it. Kids these days are smart. It doesn’t take much to bypass content filters. It can be as easy as doing Google searches until a site is found that is not blocked by the filter, to using using proxy servers to hide the actual website they are visiting.

Parents cannot sit back and expect software to handle their parental responsibilities. The term “parental controls” is quite deceiving seeing how it makes no parental decisions or judgments that teach children what is right and wrong. It’s like smacking a dog with a newspaper hours after he relieved himself on the carpet. It is not teaching the dog anything except that you are a mean person.

Parents need to be parents. Teaching kids what is expected of them while using the computer. What is appropriate and what they should never do. And what they should do if something of questionable taste does appear on the monitor.

Content filters have their place. It’s not that they are bad, it’s that more and more parents are forgetting to educate their children of online dangers, thinking that the parental controls are good enough parents for their kids. In some cases it has gotten so bad that some kids think “if the parental controls allows it to come through it must be appropriate for me to view.” With no communication from their parents, they learn what is acceptable through the software.

So how do we fix this problem? The obvious answer would be to communicate with our kids, but let’s dig a little deeper and give the parents a little more control of information. There are certain steps that need to be taken so the parent knows who is doing what online. Having one account on the computer is not going to cut it.

First and foremost, create a separate user account for everyone in the family and password protect each of them. Make sure nobody knows each others passwords except the parents.

Again, content filters have their place. Go ahead and install one. Even though they have their flaws it will help, to a degree, to shield kids from pornography, hate sites, gambling site, and much more.

Next, learn how to do very basic forensics on the computer. There are programs out there that make this easier and some are even free. A quick search on download.com for “internet history viewer” brought up some good tools. Or you can learn where to look on the computer.

By default, Internet Explorer remembers every website that has been visited. It also stores pictures and videos that have been viewed. Having separate user accounts comes in very handy right now. Log on to your account and check each user’s IE cache to see what they have been doing. The files will have a date and time stamp so you know exactly who was looking at what and when they were looking at it.

Knowing what your kids have been doing presents you with a great opportunity to share your love for them and instruct them on how to behave while online. We should never miss an opportunity to communicate with kids, especially when it comes to something as mentally and emotionally dangerous as pornography and other inappropriate sites.

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