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Protect Children Online

Keeping Children Away from Adult Sites

In our on-going efforts at MatchMkr to make your experience as fun and safe as possible, we have created this document to help you understand how to protect your children from inappropriate online material.

The first step to protect your family is to install parental control software on your computer. Your computer may already have parental control options built into their Operating Systems, and you should first check the user manual provided for your device. Alternatively, there are specific software packages designed to provide you with additional parental controls: some of the best-known and respected parental control software packages are CyberPatrol, Net Nanny and Safety Surf. Also, some ISPs (Internet Service Providers, the companies that let you connect to the internet) provide content filtering as part of their basic service. Check with your ISP to see if this is an option they offer.

Parental control software works by blocking access to specific websites and online content. In most cases, when you buy the software it already contains a large list of sites that are inappropriate for children. You can then update the software through the manufacturer's website or, in some cases, the software will update itself.

Another way filtering software works is to block sites based on keywords, such as "sex". However, filtering software does not have to just block access to adult-oriented material. You can configure the software to filter for topics such as tobacco, drugs and drug culture, alcohol, violence and racism.

Since there might be only one computer in your household, and you might be using the same computer as yout children, you can set up the system to filter content during certain hours, such as when you are at work and not around to supervise your children's web surfing. You can also setup the system to create a password, that only you know, to override the restrictions.

Some programmes can also block personal information, such as name, address and phone number, from being sent from your computer. This is an excellent way to protect children from potential online predators.

Many programmes allow you to create different levels of security and filtering based on the different ages of the computer's users. Children can be given high security and heavy content filtering, but when you log on to the machine, you can set it to not filter any content at all.

One thing to remember is that by installing filtering software on your computer, you might also restrict childrens' access to legitimate sites. This is especially true if you rely on keywords (such as "sex") for blocking. Certain keywords appear on legitimate news and information sites, so it is best to experiment with different settings when configuring the filter controls.

Installing filtering software is no guarantee that children will not be exposed to some inappropriate material online. New websites are added to the internet everyday, so it is important to keep your software up-to-date. Also, learn how your internet browser software works so that you can check the sites your family has visited (this is the "History" feature, which displays a list of websites visited by the web browser).

Talking to your children about the possible dangers that exist on the Internet, and supervising their web surfing are still the best ways to protect them.

Some key general internet-related safety points for your children:

  • Tell them to never give out personal information about themselves or their family to strangers they might meet online or in a chatroom.
  • Remind them that online it is easy for people to pretend to be someone else. They can easily change their name, age and gender in an effort to get close to children.
  • Teach them that they should never meet a new online friend without an adult present.
  • Tell them to never give out their picture to a stranger, and that if they ever get a picture with sexual content, or something they find disturbing, that they should get off the computer immediately and tell you about it.
  • Let them know that if they encounter something or someone dangerous that they can tell you about it, and that you will not blame them or get angry with them.

Here are some sites where you can download parental control software:

Windows and Apple operating systems also contain a number of built-in tools which help you manage the content children can see:

There are also some good internet safety information sites for both children and adults:

Last updated: Monday, 14th September 2015

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