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Langdon Himebaugh

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Internet Safety & Parental Controls
By Langdon Himebaugh
Feb 5, 2013 (Safer Internet Day)
Internet Safety is a broad topic that has become much more complex as the Internet has grown over the last 20 years.  Internet Safety means different things to people of different ages and positions.  A business owner or IT professional has a much different perspective than a parent of children 6, 8 & 13 years of age.
I’m a tech savvy parent of a 20 year old son who survived growing up with the internet.  As most Internet Safety specialists will tell you, old fashioned parenting is just as important, or more likely more important than any software or technical controls that can be applied to ones computers, tablets, phones or networks.
First of all, some things are still the same just in a newer form.  Talking -> Chatting or Instant Messaging, Diaries -> Blogging or Facebook, Music -> Streaming or Downloading or File Sharing, Television -> YouTube or Streaming or Downloading or File Sharing, Games, Advertisements -> Spam, Bullying -> Cyber Bullying, Predators -> Online Predators, Porn is still Porn.
As a parent it is still important to teach your children what is right and wrong (online or in the real world).
·      Don’t talk too much or give out too much information to other people, especially strangers.
·      Don’t bully, threaten or pick on other people.
·      Don’t watch too much TV.
·      Don’t waste time.
·      Don’t plagiarize.  Don’t copy.
·      Don’t talk to strangers.
·      Get outside and exercise!
I don’t believe in telling people what is right or wrong.  I think most people really know.  It is ultimately a family matter…. until it’s too big and involves other families or police.
So be an involved parent and be aware.
Parental controls are tools that can help you look out for your children’s safety online but they have their limitations.
What worked for me? 
·      I installed Anti-Virus & Anti-Malware software on my son’s computer.
·      I restricted time access in the router to block Internet usage from 11PM to 6AM.
·      I set up a Gmail account for my son and told him to use MY email account whenever he filled out a form online.  This worked well!  Spam was non-existent this way.
·      I set Google’s safe search mode on.
·      I limited use of my computer… to avoid viruses.

What didn’t work?
·      My son could get around the restricted Internet access by signing into the neighbors unsecured Wi-Fi.  (Most households have secure Wi-Fi these days.)
·      My son installed a number of online multiplayer games, which installed viruses and malware that slowed down his computer.  It’s a good thing he didn’t do any online banking from this computer.
·      We allowed my son to have a phone at age 11.  This was fine until age 14 when he was sending/receiving 1000+ messages a day and throughout the night.
What worked for me, may not work for you!
Times have changed and there are many more Internet devices in a household.  Devices connected to the Internet through mobile phone providers have created additional challenges.  My recommendations today:
·      Filter Internet content at an age appropriate level.
·      Place time restrictions on the Internet at an age appropriate level.
·      Control viruses, malware, phishing & spam.
·      Set privacy controls appropriately.
1) Set up DNS filtering on your router so every device on your home Wi-Fi network benefits.
Use OpenDNS or Norton DNS to quickly filter all Internet devices including TV’s, Video Game counsels not easily protected.  These provide phishing protection, and optional content filtering depending on the setup.  Not all routers allow this, but settings can be applied at the device level.
2) Install virus/malware protection from McAfee, Norton, Kaspersky or AVG.  These programs have become bloatware and especially the “do everything“ versions really slow down your computer. 
3) Use Gmail rather than an email client such as Microsoft Outlook.  This keeps the viruses & spam away!  Have your child use a Gmail account, but limit who they give the address to.
4) Change Facebook Privacy to most restrictive settings.  Set "Who can see my stuff?", "Who can contact me?" & "Who can look me up?" to "Friends".  Set "Do you want other search engines to link to your timeline?" to "Off".
5) Activate Google SafeSearch and lock it.  This will only remain active while signed into the Google Account.  Once signed out, the filter is no longer applied.  This goes for text or image searches.  Find out more at  YouTube can be filtered in a similar fashion.
6) Set up time restrictions in the router.
7) McAfee, Norton, Kaspersky or AVG have software for PCs & Macs as well as Apps to cover other devices.  Another new entry into the market is  This software seems simple and appropriate to the task at hand.  Select & Install one of the above on all children’s devices.  Most of these options will filter content & place time restrictions on usage as well as control viruses & malware.  This software ideally will work outside of your home network… wherever they take their PC, tablet or phone!  This software will also slow down every device it is installed on.
8) It is best to have a separate computer for the children.  If you share your computer (or even if you don’t) set up yourself as the administrator and create a separate user account for each child .  Prevent the children from installing software by editing their user permissions.  This will prevent them from installing file sharing software or games that may contain viruses or malware.

Windows 7 - Parental Control Video

Windows 7 - YouTube Video
Windows 7 Parental Controls - Complete Tutorial

Mac - Parental Control Video

Mac - A YouTube Video
Macworld Video Tip: Set parental controls on your Mac

Good Luck and let me know your experiences with Parental Control Software and your solution to this challenge.
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Last 4 days, every time I go outside I find myself unconsciously singing "All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey..."
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Finally... Google Plus is now available for Apps customers! As the admin, I turned it on first I heard. Had to wait about 24 hours to get access... first time I've seen it. So far so good. We'll see what I think after a week.
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