I am looking for advice on choosing between software such as NetNanny, CYBERsitter or other such programs that help restrict internet acces from children.
Yes I can read (and have read) up on these things but I do not have children and have never used any of these software packages. I frequently get asked for advice (being the family computer guy) so I thought I’d try and get a real world low down on these things here.
When choosing the package assume the children are ages 5-12 and the parents are not terribly savvy computer users (i.e. they can click the setup button but advanced configuration woud be pushing things not to mention regular updates). As for that age range of kids I’d say not quite old enough to really think hard about circumventing mom and dad’s restrictions but something they might try to do in a few years.
I don’t have kids of my own, but from what I’ve heard, those programmes are generally ineffective if
A) The kids are reasonably tech-savvy, AND
B) The parents aren’t.
Assuming kids in the 10-13 age group, they’ll talk to their friends (or use the internet elsewhere) and rapidly work out how to render these sorts of programmes ineffective- often whilst maintaining the appearance that it’s still functioning normally.
I can’t imagine many 5-8 year olds wanting to use the internet for anything more nefarious that looking at the websites of their favourite cartoons (hopefully with parents sitting nearby to guide them), but things have changed a lot since when I was a kid (we didn’t even have the internet until I was 12 or 13…)
Hopefully someone with more knowledge or practical experience will be along soon to share their thoughts…
No, I do not think kids age 5-8, even these days, are budding porn aficionados but they can stumble across things inadvertently as well as hear a “word” or something from an older sibling that sends them looking for things you might not want them to find.
My brother-in-law is a 5th grade teacher and set his kids in front of the computers at school to do some research. Note the school has all sorts of restrictive software to avoid trouble of the sort we are talking about here. He left the room for 2 minutes and came back to find porn across most computer screens in the classroom. It has been awhile so I forget exactly what the kids did but it amounted to them mistakenly typing in “History Chanel” when they meant “History Channel” (again I forget exactly…typo was in their instructions so they all did it) which managed to point them to a Korean porn site. The school’s filters did not read Korean so the filters didn’t know to stop it and next thing you know the kids are surfing porn. Fortunately they had barely gotten there and he was able to stop them so no real damage done.