Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last few months, you’ve probably seen all the news about internet usage and your children. Keeping your children safe while on a computer isn’t always easy, but it can be done. Granted, most of us have allowed our children to use the internet for years, especially if they have their own electronic devices (phone, tablet, etc.). But now with schools going to online distance learning platforms, the subject is definitely a “hot topic” of discussion all over social media.
We travel full time in a 36′ travel trailer with our children, so we do not have regular internet. We use hotspots from our phones or WiFi at the campground, but our children are limited in their internet usage. Truth be told, we have never allowed our children ‘free reign’ of the internet, so keeping their usage on ‘lockdown’ isn’t hard for us.
However, I know many families are now struggling with the fact that their children (whether forced or by choice) will be schooling at home with the bulk of their courses being viewed online. I have seen parents reaching out about how to help their curious teens from searching around or their younger kids from seeing something they can never unsee.
The fact is, there really is only one foolproof way to avoid falling into this trap – remove internet from your home. However, even that doesn’t guarantee they won’t see it somewhere else. And with so much of their schoolwork needing the internet, it just might not be feasible.
How can you help keep your children safe while doing school on the computer? Here are some ideas we have used in our own home with our almost 100% guaranteed foolproof solution at the bottom.
Keep Internet Connected Devices in a Public Area
This has always been a non-negotiable in our home. When my husband and I first got married, we made the rule that no electronic devices connected to the internet would ever be allowed in a private room. We didn’t want anything to be a temptation to either of us. So our computer(s) have always been in the living room or open area.
When we began homeschooling our children, the same rule was put into place. Every computer in our home is in full view of everyone. And even now that we live and travel fulltime in a 36′ travel trailer, each of our televisions is hooked up to a computer, but they are all in view of everyone.
This may seem like a pain in the rump for larger families, but if you are really concerned with keeping your children away from the evil temptations that lurk (not even so secretly) on the internet, this is a non-negotiable in my book.
Some people may see this as a problem if one (or both) parent(s) work from home. My solution then would be to install a door with mostly glass so nothing can be hidden.
Monitoring or Filtering Service
I need to be completely honest here – we have never used a filtering or monitoring service or software. Since we keep our computers in public areas, we have never had a need for them. However, I know many families that choose not to do this, so the next step would be to install a monitoring service or software program.
Although it baffles me, I know this can be a controversial subject. Somehow parents feel this is an invasion of privacy for their growing children. Let me remind you that God entrusted these children to you to raise for His glory. You are responsible for what they learn and see. So, no, I don’t believe it is an invasion of privacy.
Now, that being said, there are quite a few different monitoring services and software options out there. How can you choose the best one for your family? First, you need to consider your needs and wants from the service. Second, determine how it monitors or prevents p**n from entering your home. And third, consider the price for what you need. Here are a few to check out.
Carrie uses Bark to keep her daughter safe online. It monitors her daughter’s activity and sends notifications only when sketchy activity pops up — things like sexting, cyberbullying, and online predators. This way, she doesn’t have to spend hours scrolling through all her messages. Check out this link for a free trial.
Christian Broadband – this company blocks offensive material before it enters your home. It can be used with any cable, DSL, satellite, or wireless internet on up to 3 computers. This is a Christian company where the owners are involved and available and can be used with a password or not (your choice). Try it for a month free.
Clean Internet – offers both Windows and Android filtration options. The mission of Clean Internet “is to effectively assist and enhance the lives of those whom we serve by providing (applying) the best innovations and technology, to produce the safest, most secure, cost-effective Web Filtering tools possible.” Learn more about what parents can control here.
Covenant Eyes – is managed by Christians and offers accountability for a variety of devices and operating systems. It covers up to 10 users and unlimited devices for a minimal fee.
Safe Families – is a program of Tech Mission “formed to assist parents in protecting their children from p**nography and other dangers on the Internet.” And they offer more than just internet protection too! They also offer resources for parents to teach them how to combat the ever-present dangers of the internet.
Net Nanny – they have been “an industry leader in parental control software for more than two decades. [It] was one of the first software vendors to offer Internet Filtering to consumers. Pioneering an advanced dynamic filtering technology that allows it to be the best Internet filtering provider in terms of speed and effectiveness, as well as the most comprehensive solution for addressing the myriad of issues that surround unwanted Internet content and inappropriate use.” Learn more about their Family Protection Pass here.
If you’re looking for more options, be sure to read the reviews of 10 more parental control software devices from PC Mag.
No Unsupervised Internet Usage
If you’re really serious about controlling what your kids see on the internet, then don’t leave them alone with any device connected to the internet. That is a rule in our home. It may seem strict, but other than removing the internet from your home completely, there is no safer way to protect your children.
As I mentioned before, we require all devices connected to the internet to be in public view. My children are not allowed to take their phones in the bathroom with them for any reason. Another precaution we have used is to put locks on all their devices (phones and tablets) as well as every computer. This means we have complete control over when our children can use the internet. And since we don’t have regular internet, they have to be signed on to that as well.
I know this may be difficult for those whose children take online courses. So maybe you lift the password during the daytime hours, but lock it at night? You could also leave it logged in during the day so they can access their classwork but within full view of everyone.
While I know many homeschool parents don’t have time to sit next to their children the entire time they’re viewing an online class, having the computer in view of everyone does deter a certain amount of browsing. It also allows you the ability to walk by and view what is on the computer screen at any time.
You must stay diligent
Being a parent in the 21st century is challenging with all the latest and greatest technology that keeps showing up. Just when we think we’ve got a handle on keeping our children safe on the computer, someone (or something) figures out a way to bust through the barriers.
It may seem like overkill to restrict the use of the internet in your home, but honestly, I’d rather be safe than sorry. As a Christian parent, it is my job to keep my children’s minds safe no matter how much rebellion I’m met with. So if they think I’m a little too restrictive while their minds are being formed, I’m perfectly okay with that.
Annette has been married to her husband and best friend since 2003. Together they are raising their six children to follow the Lord’s will, no matter what. Annette longs for the day when she will meet her angel babies who have entered heaven before her. She enjoys creating UNIT STUDIES and FREE PRINTABLES for homeschool families. You can follow her crazy life at In All You Do where she blogs about homeschooling, homemaking and marriage while trying to maintain her sanity. She is also the owner of Thrifty Homeschoolers where she shares her tips on homeschooling without breaking the bank.
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