The Internet can be a minefield for children. This is why you must educate your kids about the dangers of the World Wide Web and about inappropriate materials they shouldn’t see online. You may also want to consider installing programs that can block your child’s attempts to visit websites that you don’t think is appropriate for them.
But there’s always a chance that something bad can get past these safeguards, so your last line of defense may involve monitoring your child’s online activity. This step may already be too late to prevent your child’s first exposure to inappropriate materials, but knowing this may enable you to prevent such things from happening again.
How to Monitor My Children’s Internet Browsing
So how do you monitor your children’s Internet browsing? Here are the most effective ways:
Be At Their Side When They Are Online
This is a rather obvious way of making sure your children only visits safe websites and that they don’t communicate with strangers. You should do this if you have young children, but as they grow older they will want to go online on their own.
But when they’re starting out, at least they will welcome your presence because you can teach them what to do. Just make sure that you also teach then about things they shouldn’t do, such as give their real name and address to strangers online.
Check the Browser History
This should always be your first step. Your browser lets you see the browsing history. You just click on the tools section of the browser and find the history tab. That shows you the most recent websites visited, and it even includes the date and time when the site was visited.
Many older children learn to get around this by erasing the browser history before they log out. But if you find the history erased, that tells you one thing: your child is hiding something from you!
Install Monitoring Software
This is one way to make sure you know what your children are seeing online. These programs have different features, but they operate by using one or more of these basic methods:
They show the browser history. So even if your child clears the browser history, you will still know the websites they have visited.
They record search terms used and conversations. These programs record more than just the websites visited. The see the terms your child uses on Google, so you can see if the inappropriate website they visit was intentional or not. For example, if your child types in “cancer” then a website may show pictures of breast examinations.
They take screen snapshots. You now have a visual record of what your children actually saw on their screens.
They inspect the people your children are communicating with. These programs can detect if the person chatting with your children is not who they claim to be, or if they are a stranger or an adult.
You may get the results in real-time. Some programs can send you an email or a text message when the program detects explicit messages, words or images. They may also notify you if they notice that your child is involved in cyber bullying, or if they've been contacted by adults online.
Some of these apps may not be free, but then again it’s up to you to determine how much you are willing to spend to keep your children safe from Internet hazards. Gecko Computer Monitoring Software has a free trial.