The current generation of children is growing up around computers – more so than any generation who’ve come before them. The latest information available says that children under eight are now spending three times more minutes per day in front of either a tablet, a laptop, or a phone than they were just six years ago. Almost half of all children under eight in America have their own tablet device. Back in 2011, that figure was barely above 1%. We’ve come a very long way in a very short space of time in with technology.
In some ways, that’s a good thing. The world of the future is likely to be technology orientated, and having an advantage with computer skills and computer literacy at an early stage might give your child an advantage over their peers. An eight-year-old child who knows how to type on a full sized keyboard, and navigate their way around the internet, will have a practical advantage over a child who doesn’t.
In other ways, it’s not so much a good thing. We all know what the internet is full of in certain places. Pornography. Violent content. Aggressive internet trolls and bullies. Even something that would be fine for adults to access at any time of day, like online casino websites, aren’t the sort of thing you want your child to stumble across accidentally. That leaves you with the question of how best to make sure your computer is as safe and secure for your child as it can be when they want to use it.
In the past, options for parental control on computers have been difficult to operate, and a little restrictive. You could just lock your computer down, and tell Windows you don’t want to see any inappropriate content at all, but that might have implications that affect you. As we said earlier, there’s nothing wrong with UK online casino websites. It might well be the case that you play UK Slot Games, but you don’t want your child to log into your account and play them with your money! You should be able to access your preferred casino games without worrying about whether your child is going to do the same thing when you’re not around. Happily enough, things are better in that respect than they used to be. Smart parental control apps are now widely available.
As statistics indicate that almost half of all eleven-year-olds have encountered pornography online, it’s never been more important to make sure you have the right protection in place for your family. Here are our picks of the best options currently out there.
Windows 10’s Standard Tools
Microsoft is much better with internet security than they have been in the past. So long as you’re comfortable with the process of setting up separate user accounts on your computer, you can add your child on to their own account, and Windows will automatically adjust its settings to filter objectionable content out of search results, and block websites that are deemed to have adult content. The filter only applies to their account and not yours – although it should be noted that it’s not a perfect system, and doesn’t guarantee to block out all objectionable websites. You start by signing up for a ‘Family Safety Account’ (ask Cortana for help, or Google it), and then follow the instructions from there. This might be the hardest way to set child safety up, but it’s also one of the most comprehensive. Windows even sends you reports on your child’s activity to your ‘parent’ account, so you can see what they’ve been searching for and looking at.
Zoodles is probably the solution to go for if you have a very young (but computer-savvy) child. Zoodles is a web browser – just like Chrome or Firefox – but completely devoted to children. It has a child-friendly theme, and offers extremely limited access to the internet. While it’s irresponsible to guarantee that any system is flawless, we’re unaware of any reported occasion when Zoodles has allowed access to a site that it shouldn’t have.
When it’s switched on, Zoodles effectively replaces the entire operating system of the computer until you log out of it again. While open, it provides your child with games, learning activities, and books to read. All of their activity is logged, and can be viewed by you as a report. If you want to stealthily nudge their learning in a certain direction, you can even have Zoodles’ make recommendations’ to your child on your behalf. There are some premium content options too, including specific web site blocking, but the free version is fine for the basic job it does.
This is more of a sneaky way to keep track of what your children are up to – although we’re not here to pass judgment on how you choose to go about your parenting! Kidlogger quite literally tracks everything your child does, keystroke by keystroke. You’ll receive a full record of all their internet searches, any messages they send through social media, any programs they’ve used, and how much time they’ve spent using each website or program. There’s even a mobile version, which, if installed on their phone, will tell you what they’ve been testing, to who, and when. As it saves keystrokes, it even records messages that have been sent via WhatsApp – although you can’t see what’s coming back the other way. It’s important to note that Kidlogger does not block access to any site or service – although as soon as your child realizes you can see everything they’re doing, they’re unlikely to go looking anywhere they shouldn’t anyway.
There are to two things you need to know about FoxFilter – it’s going to require a lot of input from you, and it only works if you have Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox as your chosen browser. If you’re happy with both of those things, carry on reading. Simply put, when FoxFilter is turned on, websites will be blocked based on the words that appear on them. That doesn’t only go for the title of the website; it also applies to words used within the pages on that site. FoxFilter comes with a list of recommended words to block, but you’re welcome (and encouraged) to add to it if more come to mind. It’s fast to install, and it starts working immediately after you turn it on.
The advantage of FoxFilter is that it doesn’t involve creating separate accounts for you and your child; just remember to keep it switched on, and then turn it off when you want to use the computer for any other purpose that wouldn’t be child-friendly. Turn it back on again before you leave the computer unattended. There’s an obvious potential issue there – because you’re relying on remembering to switch it on and off – but if you’re confident your memory won’t let you down, it’s much less intrusive than the Windows 10 tools.
The Windows 10 tools are the most effective way of making sure your child stays online, so from our point of view it’s worth working out how to use them, and set up the separate accounts. The internet can be a dark and dirty place at times – but not if you have a helpful filter working for you. Think of it like a cyber-nanny!
Image credit: Computer Safe For Children via Eviart/Shutterstock