27. Avoiding Online dangers
By Mark Alberstat
Pop-up ads, selling everything from a university education to the latest
online casino, flood web users daily. A long list of spam e-mails each day
also fly in that could make the most crass user blush.
Keeping children away from these online distractions and dangers has been
a concern for years, and there is no easy relief in sight. There are,
however, some software solutions to aid you in the fight and some websites
to make you and your family smarter and safer surfers.
The first line of defence against these unwanted intrusions is, of course,
parental guidance. Control of where a child surfs on the Internet and what
other online activities he or she does should be monitored by a
Like a playground versus a freeway, certain areas of the Internet are much
more child-safe than others, and it is up to parents to keep children from
playing or visiting dangerous areas.
One way of policing a child's Internet use is by investing in one of the
many programs designed to help parents monitor Internet usage.
The most popular of these programs has the catchy title of Net Nanny. This
program is extremely customizable and can even log Internet activity by
user and time of day. The latest version also blocks pop-up and pop-under
ads and has received a Very Good rating by the American watchdog group
Produced by BioNet Systems, this product has a 15-day fully functioning
trial version available for downloading at its website, a feature that
more software producers should consider.
A similar product is called I Am Big Brother. This software also monitors
web activity and can record both sides of most chat room and instant
messenger programs. Net Nanny can do this too but is an additional program
to purchase. I Am Big Brother also has a downloadable demo version.
If these products are of interest to you, and you want to learn more about
safe surfing for you and your family, a site that would be worth your time
This site is hosted and produced by a team of Internet industry
organizations and public interest groups, including Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo
and Amazon.com. This site can take some time to browse, as its depth and
breadth in the subjects of safe surfing, firewalls, safeguarding personal
information and stopping spam are all very complete. The sites also have
reviews of Net Nanny and other similar products.
Another site worth a look at is www.safeteens.com. This site, unlike
many others, is written for the teen Net user and not the parent. The site
is run by Lawrence Magid, a Los Angeles Times columnist who has written
extensively on computers and Net safety.
If you want to stay Canadian, www.bewebaware.ca is another similar
site. This one is loaded with information for the young Internet user and
the parent. An extensive Links page is also available and has some links
to child-safe chat rooms and educational sites. This site also has
age-related safe-surfing tips because the five-year-old surfer doesn't
need the same type of supervision as the 15-year-old, even if they can
apply for a university degree by filling out an online pop-up form
guaranteeing riches and knowledge.
On the web:
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Originally published 1 February 2004