Note: This article is part of my series called Protecting Children Online.
By getting to know your Internet providers parental controls, it allows you to set limits and monitor both Internet and TV settings that rely on cable connections. For parents who are uncertain or uneasy about how to do this, just go to YouTube and type in “cable parental controls” and dozens of how-to videos will appear covering nearly all of the Internet and cable provider companies out there. If you need more support, you can also call their help centers to speak with an actual person and they will help you.
Parental Control Software has been around now for over a decade, and these days it’s pretty easy to use. Prices range from free to $60-$70 dollars on average, with a few that offer advanced features going well over a hundred dollars that claim to be able to block or monitor just about anything (Which hopefully is never needed). But some reviewers question the need for some of the expanded features that the elite programs claim to offer. I find that PC Magazine offers the most reliable reviews. If you choose one from their list, then compare it against another independent reviewer such as CNet.com (which in my view does a good job) to see if their rating is close to PC Mag’s.)
Remember: Whenever possible, try to select monitoring software that works from the router outward, not just on the computers and wireless devices being used in the home. Sure, some handhelds such as smartphones, etc, allow users to connect to the Internet without using your home network, but–if you are the parent who is paying for their phone service, and you’ve likely bought the device as well, then expect your teen to hand it over to you from the get-go so that you can review the settings and set parameters and restrictions on that device as well. Many parents forget that they can do this. If your teen balks, oh well! Just tell them that’s how much you love them!
Among the most consistently top rated parental control software programs out there are: Net Nanny 2.0, AVG Family Safety, SocialShield, and OpenDNS.com, which offers a free version and a paid version for $19.99. OpenDNS also works from the router outward. And if you’re running Windows Operating Systems, don’t overlook their parental control programs that can be downloaded as well. They’re free, too! For an excellent article on parental control programs, consider reading Eric Geier’s PC World article called
How to Child Proof the Internet. Another great resource that covers Internet Safety extensively is ConnectSafely.org. Bear in mind that some of these programs lean heavily on offering controls on sites that are currently well-known, like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Tumblr, to name a few. But in 2013, teens are rapidly moving away from Facebook, for example, to be with their friends at newer and trend setting sites. So it’s possible, if not likely, that even the best parental control programs out there won’t offer monitoring of the newer sites that teens find all the time. (Which brings us back to the poor frustrated parent who takes the router to bed with him each night!)
Next article in this series: Ways That Parents are Limiting Wireless Access at Night.
Useful Resources Include: