Parental Control Filtering - Filtering Web Content

The Internet literally gives all of us the world at our fingertips but sometimes those fingers belong to a child. While innocently surfing 'the net', children can be exposed to a whole raft of unsuitable material. They may inadvertently make known personal information or their parents credit card data. Before attempting to install any kind of parental control filtering for filtering web content, it is a good idea to educate your child about how to use the Internet safely.

Children are interested in computers and the Internet as early as age two, and young children can be easily guided to suitable web sites that provide play and education. As children get older, however, it becomes more difficult to oversee all their online activities. Once into their teens, they may engage in viewing pornography or chatting online with potential predators. Sometimes they may post photos of themselves and provide information that could lead to pedophiles to approach them.

Being involved with your child's online activities helps limit some of these risks. Keeping the computer in the living room or just being involved in what they view may be sufficient to assist children to resist the temptation of 'forbidden' sites.

It's generally not possible, though, to oversee all their online activities. It maybe a scary thought, but it is not practical or possible to monitor your child's internet activity 24 hours of every day...Or can you?

In fact, there are a variety of internet content filtering software and hardware tools that can limit your child's Internet access or monitor his or her computer activities. Most of these tools cost very little and some are even free.

Internet Parental Control Software works by filtering and blocking certain web sites or specific keywords. Parents can define them or use a pre-built list. For instance, a listing of pornographic or otherwise inappropriate sites is supplied by the software manufacturer and can be updated from their web site. Any time your child tries to access one of these web sites he or she will get a 'HTTP 404 Page Not Found' or equivalent message.

Filters can also be set up to restrict access to certain types of Internet traffic such as instant messaging, newsgroups, email, or peer-to-peer (P2P) hosting which is often used for file exchanges.

These filters aren't perfect and it is next to impossible for a database to be entirely up-to-date because new web sites come onto the Internet all the time, but they help.

Another type of software records all your child's computer activity - sites visited, emails sent or received, programs run, even individual keystrokes in some cases.

Another option is to install Parental Control Software which prevents computer use at certain times of the day. The computer will shut itself off at certain times or when a preset amount of data has been downloaded from the Internet. Windows does have it's own built in facilities for doing this, but configuring it requires a level of expertise which would be beyond the average user.

Software exists which can block your child's name, address or other personal details as specified by the parent from being sent.

There are browsers available which are specifically tailored for children and also include many of the internet content filtering discussed above. They are a lot easier for children to use than Internet Explorer or Firefox but as Internet Explorer cannot be un-installed from the Windows operating system, it would not take too long for a net savvy kid to find out how to gain access to it.