More and more Americans are going online every year, and more and more families are discovering that, however useful the internet can be, a lot of things out there aren't family friendly. if your kids surf, you might want to check out some of the tools now available to keep them safe. It's a fact that there are a lot of sites out there that are adults only. And sadly, people your kids meet online aren't always who they seem to be.
But there is some help one local family says has kept their internet experience clean for years. Bob Longuiera's family has been online for a few years now. "We started to encounter some sites or some areas out there that we thought might be offensive, and we started looking for some controls that we could put in to sort of filter some of that out," he said.
The option he went with is called Cyber Patrol, one of a host of content-filtering software packages you can buy online (see the links above to the left for more). Most allow you to customize access levels based on the content of sites you want family members to be able to see.
For Longuiera, it provides "some insurance that we could get on and look for information that we were looking for without being bombarded with information you know a bunch of information that we found offensive."
One of the more popular features of the internet is chat. Programs like this allow you to block it entirely, block certain keywords, and some even keep a record of it for later review. As Longuiera put it, "The internet doesn't discriminate. It doesn't know whether a five-year-old kid is on there or an eighty-year-old person is on there."
His daughter Faith is now 17, but says she still appreciates the software for keeping her surfing clean, though she admits it has gone too far sometimes. "I was actually looking for a recipe for my mom for shrimp scampi or shrimp cocktail and it would block that because it had like cocktail in it, and I was like, 'That's not bad, it's just shrimp,'" she recalled.
When that happens, Longuiera can grant access on a case-by-case basis. He says keeping in touch with your kids' needs is key. "You really have to get involved in their you know their everyday life and talk to them about what they're doing."
This allows the family to focus on the many positive aspects of being online.
Features and prices for these content filters vary, but there are plenty of testimonials and independent reviews online to help you decide which software is right for your family. But the best way to protect your children and make use of the powerful resources of the internet remains to always surf as a family.