Back-to-School Digital Reading Assignment #4: Online Safety Software Doesn’t Do It All

To Install or Not to Install — That is the Question!

When people ask me whether a family should install protection or filtering software at home, I always have one response. Protective software programs are fine, but limited. Yes, they keep a certain amount of inappropriate content away from children, but the problem of access to inappropriate content is not solved by simply protecting home computers and networks with software. Over the course of a day or week a child encounters many other connections to the world wide web — on laptops, smartphones, iPads, computers, in other people’s homes, and maybe even at a parent’s office. And many children simply figure out how to work around or even outwit the software.

Protecting children from bad content is critical, but they also need to know what to do and what strategies to use when confronted by the bad stuff. Does your child remember your expectations?  Will he or she know what to do?

The rest of the digital parenting challenge — supervising, talking, modeling, and brainstorming strategies with web-savvy children –is a lot harder than installing and then monitoring the software. To formulate a plan that helps children become street smart and sensible on the web is not easy — but it needs to happen.  That’s the best digital security.

While kids have advanced technology skills these days, adults see the big technology picture. Parents model and reinforce the family values — respect, integrity, kindness, and more — applying them to the virtual world just like in other parts of life.

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