Parental controls for online safety at home

Katherine murray By Katherine Murray

It’s a new era in terms of risk on the Web: from scams to spam to predatory practices, you have more reasons than ever to be proactive about protecting your kids while they’re surfing online.

Fortunately, Windows 7 gives you a robust set of built-in parental controls.

Lots of convenient, but risky, Internet access

So how many computers are there in your house? If you’re like most people, just a few years ago you had one computer that everybody shared (sometimes not so peacefully). Then came the advent of laptops and now netbooks and mobile devices galore. Chances are that several — if not all — of the folks in your house have their own computers. And maybe some of you have more than one computer of your own!

When everyone used one home computer, it was fairly simple to use antivirus software to keep the computer healthy and to view the browser’s history to see who visited which websites (and decide whether some safe-surfing reminders were in order). But with more devices and more decentralized online activities, it’s considerably harder to monitor it all.

New and more sophisticated threats also make it easier for kids to be scammed, bullied, or stalked online — and if they naively disclose personal information, they could be tricked into having their identities stolen. By sharing the wrong kinds of information online, they could even open you or your family to other types of abuse — such as financial fraud, identity theft, or even physical risk.

Being able to communicate the need for safety online is an important part of enforcing parental controls at home. At first, your kids may resist the idea of being controlled online, but if you approach the topic with safety as the focus, they are more likely to see that good Web practices are one way they can help protect the family. Sitting down with your kids and showing them the parental controls you’re using can also help them understand that your objective really is safe surfing — not just another dastardly attempt to curtail their freedoms.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2011-05-26:

Katherine Murray

About Katherine Murray

Katherine Murray is the author of My Windows 8.1 (Que, 2013), Microsoft Office 2013 Plain & Simple (Microsoft Press, 2013), My Evernote (Que, 2012), and other non-fiction books on business, parenting, and Earth-care topics. She also coauthored, with Woody Leonhard, Green Home Computing for Dummies (Wiley 2009), and she writes and tweets (@kmurray230) about green-tech, wellness, and other social issues.