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Technically Speaking: Online Safety for Kids

With the ubiquity of technological devices that connect us to each other and to information on the internet, our children are becoming more and more tech-savvy at much younger ages. But this savvy does not bring with it the maturity and life experience needed for children realize they are in unsafe situations.

The other day I handed my 3 year-old my son my smartphone. He was begging to let him play his favorite puzzle game. Trying to finish up a quick project, I gave in and handed him the device. Within minutes he had made his way to YouTube and was watching a video about the New York Yankees. He’s a smart kid.

Now, on its own, a video in which sports announcers discuss if Derek Jeter will be ready to play on opening day is harmless enough, but it’s the inappropriate material that is only two or three clicks away that scares me.

As a parent it is my responsibility to protect my children as best I can from the dangers of this new “connected” world. Whether you’re hoping to protect a toddler or a teenager, there are many programs that can be installed on your home computers and mobile devices that can limit and/or help monitor your child’s online activities.

The following programs are available for download to most computers and smartphones. These programs offer parents the ability to monitor their children’s online activity however much or little as they feel is appropriate. This monitoring includes the ability for a parent to filter out content they consider to be inappropriate for their child, to set limits on their child’s time spent online, and to aid in the prevention of cyberbullying and other improper contact. Parents can set their accounts up so that they receive alerts when certain words and/or phrases are detected in chats .

Net Nanny (netnanny.com), Norton Online Family (onlinefamily.norton.com), McAfee Family Protection (http://home.mcafee.com), and PureSight Owl (puresight.com).

For more information on these programs and to find out more about children’s online safety, visit the Computer Instruction page of the library’s website, www.dewlib.org.

We encourage you to come in to the DCL for answers to your Technology questions.

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