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Protecting children from online threats: methods and cost

21 December 2010, by — admin ()

Ironically, the realities of today’s Internet dictate the need for protecting children from it. These days, even adults cannot avoid the traps set on the global network, much less children.

The number of psychic, emotional, physical and financial threats that Internet users are exposed to is steadily growing very day.

Thousands of sites with content absolutely inappropriate for children’s eyes, erotic images and pornography, violence and all kinds of intolerance, spam and the already commonplace «adult» ads even on harmless mainstream sites, viruses and incessant attempts of scammers to steal your information or money — this is just a short list of things that are all over the Internet and finding them is not a problem at all.

What programs can parents use for restricting children’s access to unwanted content? There are several approaches to solving this problem:

  • Protecting using integrated OS and browser functions.
  • Using a special module of a paid anti-virus tool.
  • Restriction on the Internet provider’s end.
  • Using activity monitoring programs.
  • Using specialized software (free and commercial).

Let’s take a look at these methods in more detail and considering the license costs involved.

The most affordable way of organizing secure Internet browsing for children – using standard OS and browser functions – is the least efficient at the same time. These restrictions can be disabled or bypassed by children with minimal computer skills.

According to parent surveys, the most efficient method is the use of specialized modules or extensions for anti-virus applications. A year license for such security programs costs around $30, but their efficiency is а not ideal: it’s not uncommon for them to erroneously block access to popular sites while giving green light to virus-infected pages or sites with unwanted content. Besides, the work of such modules often depends on the updates system of the parent application.

Using specialized services provided by ISP’s is a relatively new and affordable method (around $20 per year). Unfortunately, the number of providers rendering such services is still very low and it’s not universally available.

Activity monitoring tools are an alternative method of child protection. It’s based on an assumption that no programs can completely and 100% efficiently fend off every possible online threat. That’s why many parents install monitoring applications on their children’s computers that log all user’s actions. After that, they can quickly view activity logs and prevent their children’s exposure to unwanted materials simply by explaining the potential danger of visiting such sites to them. A typical license for such monitoring programs (for instance, Refog Personal Monitor) will cost around $65.

Personal Monitor Time Sheriff

The use of specialized software is a much more comprehensive and efficient way of monitoring your children’s online activities. However, it requires some familiarization with this software and sufficient computer skills. A number of solutions are available on the market today, but you can start with Time Sheriff, which costs just $30.

When you decide to protect your computer and your children from various online threats, bear in mind that specialized software is just a technical part of your undertaking. Your kids can access the Internet in a number of ways – for instance, by using a friend’s computer or a mobile phone. That is why the first thing you should do is to talk to your children and explain what dangers they can come across on the Internet.

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