By Sharon Miller Cindrich
Q: I’d like to monitor my child’s activity online with some kind of parental controlsoftware, but there are so many products on the market– how do I know which is best?
When parents think about security, they think about keeping their computer safe, their personal information safe and, most importantly, their kids safe. Parent control software can keep kids from accessing inappropriate content online; it can keep logs of computer activity; it can block or limit chat conversations; it can even allow parents to see what their child is doing from a remote location.
HOW TO PICK A PROGRAM THAT'S RIGHT FOR YOU
Choosing a parental control software product is a lot like choosing a car. You’ll need to do a bit of research, and you'll want to consider your family's needs (your kids' ages, the programs and hardware you use, your online activities, etc.) in selecting which features you'll want in your software. Once you know your online safety goals and are familiar with the features available, it will just be a matter of narrowing down your options.
Check out this list of features as you begin thinking about what you want your parental control software to do, then look for these tools when comparing products:
Remember, even the best parental control software can't do it all. Setting boundaries, supervising use, and regularly checking your computer’s history (press “Ctrl” and “H” on a PC) will help you stay plugged in to what your child is doing online. Also make sure kids understand what is being blocked and why their activity is being monitored, so that you can lay a foundation for healthy conversations and an ongoing dialogue about computer safety.
Sharon Miller Cindrich (www.SharonMillerCindrich.com) is a mother of two. She writes this syndicated column (more info at www.PluggedInParent.com) and is the author of E-Parenting: Keeping Up with your Tech-Savvy Kids and A Smart Girl's Guide to the Internet.