Thursday, August 19, 2010

OpenDNS may enhance parents' ability to filter websites for kids

The following video from PC Magazine shows how parents could use OpenDNS on their router, and enter blacklisted and whitelisted sites that minors are allowed to see. This is explained at about 4:30 into the video (not embeddable). The flm demonstrrates the settings with Netgear.

There are ways to provide protection from other minors’ hazards as well, such as phishing. Typo errors, which can lead to porn, are also prevented.

Check David Burt's "Review: OpenDNS Adult Site Blocking" at Get Parental Controls here. He reports a healthful underblocking rate of 96% on a test apparently performed in 2007.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

"Mousemail" and "Collyou" will help parents monitor emails, texts, cell phone use

A product called Mousemail has been presented on CNN as “family safety for email and texting”, with the main link here. The service prevents inappropriate messages from reaching a child and is said to help stop cyberbullying.

There is a similar service for tweens and teens called “coolyou”, link .

These products come from a company called Fuzebox, link.

Christie Dedman has a story from the Birmingham News, “MouseMail.com & CoolYou.com Provide Parents Options on Monitoring Child's Text Messaging”, link here .

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ladies' Home Journal and Parry Aftab look for "lowest common denominator" for kids' safety on Internet

Ladies’ Home Journal has an important article by Mika Brzezinski, on p 82 of the “September issue” (2010), titled “Internet Intervention”, where the author, cohost of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”, must intervene to control her daughers’ online use. Internet security consultant Parry Aftab, of “WiredSafety” meets with the family.

The LHJ has the following video of the meeting; some versions of it require subscription:



Many of the recommendations sound trite: keep the “family computer” in a public area, no closed doors, etc. Note how Parry Aftab plays the outside professional, telling the family and kids what to do.

I generally think parents can adjust their rules according to the maturity of their kids. But remember the case of the New Jersey principal who wanted all parents in his middle school to ban Facebook and other social networking sites at home? The thinking is collective, even quasi-Maoist: if some kids are restricted, but see that their better-off friends aren’t, their own parents will have a harder time enforcing these kinds of “rules.”

Here’s a “TVNewser” account of the story, link.

I could not find a LHJ link to the text of the story yet. But here is a story from April 2005 that is provocative, by Stephanie Emily Pfeffer, “"Are Online Blogs a Good Idea for My Kids?": Online diaries -- aka blogs -- can be fun and innocent, or they can lead to trouble. Here's what parents need to know”, link here.

Michelle Obama says she doesn't let her daughters use electronic media "at home" at all during the week. What about homework?

Monday, August 02, 2010

Internet filtering explained in "baby language"

Here is a little high-level page on a site called “Hub Pages” by “Jlcalzone”, “The Benefits of Internet Filtering”, link here.  Most of the points made here are simple and sound like “common sense”. But one point that is particularly interesting is the giving the parent the ability to block social networking sites altogether. Another is monitoring web-based email sites. Still another is blocking certain games and newbie apps. And still another is that many families have several computers, including one for each teen kid, and one for each spouse; so different levels of access are appropriate on different machines (and mobile devices). The idea that you place a single “family computer” in one public area of the home seems passé.

Keep in mind that ISP’s generally allow multiple screenname logons with different levels of access for each screenname. A few years ago, I experimented with AOL’s, but the “young teen” setting did not block any of my websites, subject of the COPA litigation.