We can’t always directly watch a child while he or she is using a computer or electronic device, but there are some very good tools out there to keep your kids safer on the internet. Software offering parental controls in an Operating System like Windows or Mac OS can be circumvented without much trouble and don’t cover everything a parent needs. Here are two simple steps you can take to keep your child safe in cyberland.
Parental Controls: Setting up Administrator and User Accounts
The first step in protecting your child is to set up an account on their computer that is a non-Administrator account. You want to set up a separate “Standard User” account with a unique password for your child. The parental account is the main or “Administrator” account and only this type of account can make changes to the computer, including installing or uninstalling software.
Once you’ve set up your child’s account, you’ve already started making your child’s computer experience safer, and you have also prevented your child from uninstalling the protective software you’ve chosen.
Parental Controls: Selecting a Software Program
The next step you can take is installing parental control software. A good solution for free and simple strong parental controls is a program called K9 Web Protection. This software has been around for over a decade and really works! It’s difficult to circumvent, especially if the child is using a Standard User account as explained above. K9 offers simple configuration after installation, blocks for categories of websites, age appropriate settings, time restriction settings, and more. What’s even better is that it’s available for your IOS and Android devices as well as for PC and Mac.
If you need an even more strict policy than K9 and don’t mind paying for it, you can try Net Nanny. Net Nanny gives you the same abilities as K9; however, you can manage multiple accounts and there are multiple services that Net Nanny offers. Again, this company has been around for a while and has a great reputation. The after-installation configuration can be cumbersome or time consuming, but the monitoring and being able to change settings remotely is the best part of the Net Nanny client.
Parental Controls: Checking Your Work
Once you’ve installed the software on the computer, it’s time to log into your child’s account that you created earlier and take the web browsers for a test drive. Make sure your child is able to reach the sites he needs to get to and can’t get to the site you want him to stay off of. Try installing some software that you download; you should be prompted for the main user password, which only you should have. If your child has the main user or “Administrator” password, change it after assigning her the Standard User account so she can’t undo your work. This also provides you with some virus protection when your child is using the standard account because malicious software cannot install behind the scenes
In summary, there are more solutions out there, but all of these solutions will be somewhat invasive by nature of their protective features, so be ready for some icons on the desktop and task bar. Taking these two simple steps of making sure your child has a Standard User account and installing Parental Control software will help keep your child safer while using his or her devices. Please let us know at SMA if you would like help installing Parental Control software on your child’s computer. If you would like, our Technology team can install controls like K9 free of charge, or we can also provide you with a quote for the cost of Net Nanny.
Matt McNeil, Director of IT at San Marcos Academy