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Friday, 18 August, 2000, 14:28 GMT 15:28 UK
Do you know what your children are up to on the net?
More than one in seven parents have admitted they do not know what their children use the internet for, according to a survey.Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
Homework, e-mailing friends and checking out websites to do with their hobbies were reasons given out by more clued-up mums and dads. But how close an eye do parents keep on their family's internet habits?
It's good to see that parents trust their children to surf - perhaps now employers can start trusting their employees...
Net filtering software like net nanny is not
usable because it even blocks Christian sites!
Many good sites are blocked and it allows
pornography through. Their choice of sites is
Education is the old solution which works.
Trudie Johnston, England
Many parents would be shocked and disturbed to learn the extent to which commercially available filters censor web content, often to fulfil commercial or political agendas of the corporations who own the software houses which produced them.
My last phone bill contained a number of premium rate calls which turned out to be "adult material" obtained from the net. My son owned up that he was the culprit and I showed him the bill. The threat of deducting the cost from his allowance was enough to ensure he wouldn't be repeating this venture, because he knows I will track him down if he does!
There should be an appropriate age
category for the internet and young
Parents can never be too cautious concerning the internet. I'm sure plenty of kids see things that they really shouldn't. Parents must be made aware of this problem and be introduced to packages such as 'net nanny' which restrict internet access to those 'undesirable' sites.
I do not pry or spy, but I do pop my head in once in a while and see what is happening. As long as a kid keeps talking and sharing news, views and the net with parents -there is nothing to worry. When he/she stops talking watch out!
Derek Jones, United Kingdom
Monitoring software is always subject to commercial priorities (such as Mattel's software filtering sites critical of it) or poor design (such as Scunthorpe being blacklisted, or sites discussing breast cancer). Speaking as an IT professional and a parent, monitoring software is a poor substitute for parents explaining the risks honestly and some parent-child trust.
Steve Banks, United Kingdom
People are too paranoid. So your kids may find pornography or a nazi website or something like that. Part of growing up is finding that stuff being shocked or upset and finding out for yourself what's good and what's bad. Net nannies and filtering probably make the kids more curious!
If people were to educate their children right from wrong and explain the dangers this will have a much greater effect than any software block.
The internet is not longer about community, it was once about 4 years ago, now its all about money and to a lesser extent sex. The only people excited about the net are either people who have never used it, just got online or are going to profit from it.
Its amazing how quickly you can tire of it.
The internet is a very, very dangerous place. Filtering software does not work, it isn't policed, there is no watershed and there is content on the web that would never make it on to a television screen. My message to parents is 'educate yourself!' Even the most innocent query on a search engine can throw up links to hard core web sites. Checking the history/temporary internet directories after your child has been surfing won't work either - they can be cleared at the touch of a button.
As a father of 3 sons (10 - 16), I am now leaving them on their own after I trained them the use of the browser and told them about inappropriate, shocking material.
They have their own email accounts (part of my master account), and I have no parental controls on my ISP account.
I do however use the history monitor once in a while and "audit" what they are up to. Rather harmless. They have hobbies and 80% of the sites relate to those.
Internet use and upbringing are closely knitted. If you have good communication, you will know and they do not need to be sneaky.
Mark M. Newdick, USA/UK
Trying to filter the creative mind of a child is like putting a fence around the sand-pit. They want to climb over and they will! My preferred approach is to use monitoring, this way I can easily retrace my kids steps without limiting them. They may hit unsuitable content, but I can address the issue in the early stages. I hope that I am wise enough not to be led into that false sense of security that so called "filtering software" can give. It is always out of date and how does some clerk in the US know what is acceptable for my child. My youngest is 4 and he already knows how to browse the net!
Patrick Seurre, UK
What's the point of monitoring your kids? Instead of imposing restrictions, we must understand what makes them want to see "inappropriate" material. The thing is that they WILL get it despite all our efforts. Just with the Internet they don't have to trade a month's allowance for a pornographic picture.
Working as an IT professional, I strongly believe that if a child has the intent to surf inappropriate material on the web, no amount of monitoring will prevent them. It is simply a discipline, just as any child can watch television after the 9:00 pm watershed if they so wish.
A simple Ctrl+Alt+Del will let you shut down most filtering software. Don't waste your money. Learn what your computer can do - and teach your children how to use it too. Or ask them to show you . . .
I'm in favour of using a 'net nanny' for children but I know it isn't going to be perfect. We all peeked into places we probably shouldn't have as children, its part of growing up and learning about the world. I think we have to take a liberal and balanced view of this and not overdo the restrictions we place on children. Too much restriction would be just as unhealthy as heavy exposure to hateful or foul sites.
Politicians love the fact that parents worry about this issue. It's a good excuse to restrict everybody's freedom of speech.
This guide from Demon Internet has a few good tips for parents:
Personally I think the best thing that parents can do to monitor their kid's internet access is to put the computer in the living room.
At home we use a monitoring software, having tried filtering packages and software before we found it quiet restricting and quiet a lot of bother really let us to trying a product uc2 from a company called Netsiren, yes we are happy with this and so is my 14 year old, it has got a word search and monitors all sites visited and email sent received which is really great.
Gerard Davison, UK
My daughter age 13 uses e-mail and
chatrooms on the net. Although she
knows what not to divulge to other
people in these chat-rooms which
are connected to the like of Trouble TV
and the like. I still have cause for concern
as one never knows if other children
in these chatrooms are in fact
I don't have children, but if/when I do I won't allow them to use the net without some fairly heavy controls until they know what is safe and what is not. The reason is simple - I wouldn't want them giving their details out to strangers, or browsing hardcore porn.
09 Aug 00 | Education
Online children leave parents behind
26 Jun 00 | Education
Parents opt out of censorship
19 Feb 00 | Education
Children warned against net predators
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