Saturday, 6th June 2020
COVER FEATURE | Computers & The Internet Article

This Month's Magazine
How do you protect your child's innocence?

How do you protect your child's innocence?

Like TV, the Internet contains information and graphic content that you know is not suitable for your young ones. But, unlike television, there is no governing body to decide what can or cannot be up loaded on to the World Wide Web.

by Edwin Gladstone

While the Authorities, who seek out producers of offensive material, are becoming more effective at cracking down on child pornography and other sensitive  material, it will take many years to establish a true Internet standard and content watchdog.

Using a search engine (e.g. Yahoo, Altavista, etc), children can, quite innocently, type in words like “game”, “boys”, “girls” in the search box and,  on the 1st page of websites listed, almost one third of it will contain pornography (the search engine does not know any better!). Try it yourself and see how easy it is. 
In my opinion, the reasons to safeguard your Internet are  as follows:

  1. Sensitive Material: Your child may be exposed to images and text that can be either pornographic, violent or that can encourage illegal behaviour such as drug taking.
  2. Financial & Legal Problems: It is possible for a child to use your credit card details on the Internet for a spending spree, with little thought of the consequences. Online gambling can also be accessed.
  3. Harassment:  Although unlikely, it is possible for a child to enter chat rooms or send messages to bulletin boards that provide information that could endanger them or other persons. Paedophiles have been known to use chat rooms to gain a child’s confidence before meeting. 
  4. Demoralising: If you have ever visited a chat room, you will know that the way people chat is usually a lot more blunt than in real life situations. If a child accesses a chat room, without proper knowledge of netiquette, the response from other chatters can be negative and, even though electronic, it may seriously affect the child’s self esteem.

The biggest problem is that children tend to be far more computer and Internet literate than their parents, therefore they have the advantage when it comes to finding their way through the Web.  The more time they spend surfing, the greater are the chances that they will come across, intentionally or unintentionally, sensitive material. They cannot be watched all the time so the next best thing is to set the net to watch over them.

There are a large number of companies that specialise in PC and Internet protection software programs. These, not only filter out the unwanted material but they allow to protect the Pc files as well. They are pretty complicated pieces of software, which can also recognise an individual user by the pattern of  his key board typing.

The companies that produce such programs also provide comprehensive updated lists of rogue sites to your software every month with the result that even new contents  on the Internet do not go unfiltered. Be careful when choosing, as some of these companies make a monthly subscription charge to update the information.

Simple to use, this type of software contains at basic level a database of words and Internet subjects that can be ticked off as “Yes” or “No” according to personal discretion. The use of a password allows to view what one likes, when most convenient.


Here is a brief description of some of the better software available:

CYBERsitter software is one of the most popular on the market. The CYBERsitter range is very extensive and the newest version 2000 has enough features to block out an estimated 97% of all offensive material. Its features include control over the time of day, duration, record of violations incurred, fast and easy to set up and supports Microsoft and Netscape browsers. For more information check out: 

Netnanny offers a range of products for PC and Internet filtering to protect children. Their latest software possesses bio password capabilities that recognise individual users by the pattern of their keystrokes.
Features include free list updates, personal information protection, lists of child friendly sites. customizable list option. For more information check out:

Cyber Patrol is another of the most popular Internet companies that offers security for the individual workstation. Features include easy to use menus and options, daily updated lists of good/bad sites, prevention of other family members giving personal details over the Net. For more information check out:

Unfortunately the software is produced by private companies and it has to be paid for. But what is a little cash compared with peace of mind? Free trial downloads are available, which means that you can pick the program you like before buying it.

Of course there are also some filtering features built into the popular Internet browsers on your computer, these allow limits to be set only to sites that are rated appropriate.

Common sense of course is the best filter yet: 

  • Keep the PC in a well trafficked part of
      the house.
  • Spend time with the kids while they
      are surfing.
  • Suggest the sites that can be of
  • Be interested in what they do!

The Internet should never discourage anyone from its use; the best way to insure that your children are having positive online experiences is to stay in touch with what they are doing. Search with them and together you can both learn something new.  

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