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Internet Safety


NEWS

Supreme Court blocks law meant to shield kids from Internet pornography Justice Department spokesman Mark Corallo denounced the ruling. "Our society has reached a broad consensus that child obscenity is harmful to our youngest generation and must be stopped," Corallo said. "Congress has repeatedly attempted to address this serious need and the court yet again opposed these commonsense measures to protect America's children."


ARTICLES

Online Dangers - Did You Know?

 


Cyber Bullying

 


Cellular Safety - Do You Speak Text?

 


A Sad Reminder of the Influence of Video Games by Rod Gustafson

Here in Canada where I live, a story began unfolding on Canada's Thanksgiving Day weekend on October 12, 2008. In the province of Ontario, 15-year-old Brandon Crisp was handed the ultimate judgment from his frustrated and loving father when his treasured Xbox was taken away. It seems Brandon had become totally immersed in playing a particular game -- Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare -- during which he interacted with other on-line players over the Internet. more

 


What is Myspace.com? by Josh Shirlen

Teenagers and young adults have always sought out places to call their own in the world.  From their bedrooms to tree houses to a table in the lunchroom teens look for a space to claim as theirs.   As society grows increasingly more dependent on the World Wide Web, it seems natural to expect young people to desire a place on the Web to call their own.  They have found that in Myspace.com.  more


Is MySpace the Right Space for Your Children? -- Part I by Rod Gustafson

There have been and still are many other web companies that will provide some room for a small website at no charge (typically these sites and MySpace create revenue selling advertisements on the pages of the sites they host), but MySpace was the first to capitalize on bringing a mix of elements together. Like its competitors, you can build a basic page with some personal information about yourself, but you can also share your photographs (similar to a photo sharing website), author a "blog" (a sort of virtual diary that is easily updated), send instant messages to other MySpace patrons through the site's own messaging system, upload and share videos, and -- perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the site -- "collect" friends. more


Is MySpace the Right Space for Your Children? -- Part II by Rod Gustafson

Carol (not her real name), a twenty something single mom, received a very personal revelation of how the popular social network service MySpace.com is being perceived by the media and those who are not part of the site's fan club. more


Cinemanow or Cinema-no? by Rod Gustafson

Over the past couple of months, news reports have indicated many major studios are signing up with online video delivery companies to allow the point-and-click generation a supposedly even more convenient way to bring cinema into their homes (assuming your computer sits near your television). Of these pioneers in home video distribution, Cinemanow.com is one of the largest and most aggressive in signing up both suppliers and consumers of movies. more


Webcams: Who's Watching Whom? by Rod Gustafson

Many experts have suggested it is a bad idea to have computers in children's bedrooms. Potential interference with sleep habits and the inability to monitor what the child is doing are both primary reasons. Add a camera to the mix, and you have yet another concern. Webcams can become an additional component in online chatting, and can add greater privacy risks. more


SUPPORT

Setting Content Controls Internet Explorer users - click on Tools, Internet Options, then Content. You can then choose filters for language, violence and nudity. Netscape users - click on Help, then NetWatch. You'll be taken to a page that explains how the controls work. Your selections are password protected so that no one can change them, except you. These systems allow you to choose what types of content and images your family can view. You can choose to fully or partially restrict web sites with violence, profanity, sexual content and images, issues of sexuality, drug use, and gambling. NetWatch allows you to select the content according to age, including sites that are rated suitable for everyone, teens, mature teens, or adults only. AOL users can follow similar steps as NetWatch when setting up the user profiles. Each member of your family can be assigned a user name and password that is programmed to take them only to age appropriate web sites.

Need a family-friendly internet provider? Read about max.com in the article below and then click on the banner to sign up. Dial up and broadband service available.


Kid Safe Browsers - Christian Kid Safe Browser - Noah's Net
Kid Rocket Kid Safe Browser - http://www.kidrocket.org/


Sick of pop up ads? Click here to get a free Pop up Blocker from google.


Ads popping up on your computer even though you have a popup blocker? You may have spyware installed on your computer. Click here to get a free spyware checker.


Sick of spam? Sign up with an online spam blocker service (30 day free trial) or buy Norton AntiSpam 2004 (there is a free 30 day free trial available here).


File an Internet Obscenity Report


 

PSAs on internet safety from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Questions? Email us.

Family Technology - MAX Control for the Information Highway

By Rod Gustafson

Has it ever happened to you?

You're innocently looking up something on the Internet, and the next thing you know you are faced with a page of pornographic sex goddesses emblazoned across your screen. To make matters worse, you try and close the page, which has taken over your entire monitor, but more pages keep popping up.

All it takes is one slip on the keyboard and a misspelled website address can suddenly open a window of sexual perversion. Or an innocent enough name (like the infamous "whitehouse.com") can lead to unexpected content.

If you've had this experience, you're likely one of millions of parents who are reluctant to have the Internet in their home because you don't want your children exposed to similar sights.

Over the past few years, experts have provided us with good ideas on how we can help our children use the Internet. Having the family computer in a high traffic area is a great place to start. As well, educating children on how to use the Internet safely is very important.

But even in Internet savvy homes, accidental brushes with porn, hate, and other objectionable content can occur. And preventing a manipulative adult from extracting information from your child in a chat session may not always be possible.

For these reasons Matt Stanley, Executive Vice-President of Max.com, has created a unique way through which parents can keep close tabs on their family's Internet habits and activities.

"What we're trying to do is offer a tool to parents," explains Stanley, who emphasizes that each client should be able to select their own comfort level based on who is using the computer. "You've got to use the tool to match your parental style."

Certainly many parents have resorted to using some type of "filter" or parental control on their Internet connection. Some of these have been around since the Internet became popular, and are purchased like any other software package from various electronics and discount stores.

These software "client-side" filters reside on your computer, and usually rely on a list of websites that are downloaded from the software manufacturer on a regular basis. They also offer filtering or complete termination of chat activities, and allow parents to generally regulate the time their children spend on-line.

On the other side of the formula are ISP (Internet Service Provider) or "server-side" parental controls. Companies like AOL and Microsoft provide parents with filtering services that require little or no setup on your home computer.

Both solutions have pros and cons. Max.com has tried to create a hybrid solution combining the best of both models.

To begin with, Max.com is a full service ISP. It can replace your current Internet Service Provider, and offer you a very advanced parental control mechanism. With dial-up access numbers across the US and Canada, chances are there's a connection point within your local calling area. If there isn't, you can use Max.com with your current service provider.

But the most impressive part of Max.com is the enormous control it offers. After registering your billing information, you download the software required for installation on your computer. A painless procedure follows and then you get to the good stuff that will make you feel like you have more control than even James Orwell imagined in 1984.

Logging into the MAX Family Manager over the Internet, you are presented with a myriad of possibilities. First, you can create individual user accounts for each member of your family. MAX has preset settings for various age groups: Parents, teens, children, and toddlers, or you can refine them further.

Clicking on the "Filter" tab lets you choose to "allow", "warn", or "block" up to 11 types of content broken into categories labeled pornography, adult/mature, illegal activities, hate/violence, etc. If you enter specific information about your child (like her name, address, and phone number) into the "Pedophile Protector," it will prohibit that information from entering into a chat session.

Finally, there are master "on/off" switches to block peer-to-peer file sharing, chatting, web browsing, or even cut off the Internet entirely for one specific user.

If a block is necessary, MAX closes the Internet browser and can even take a "picture" of the screen so you can see exactly what was happening when the infraction occurred. It is also willing to drop you an email at the office (or anywhere else) and let you know what happened. It's this remote warning and control that makes MAX so powerful.

So how does MAX work in a real family setting? While writing this article in my home office, I glanced out the door to see what my daughter was up to in the family room. She's supposed to be writing a book report, but instead was enthralled with looking at pictures of various rodents on the web.

It's not exactly an illegal activity but one guinea pig in the house is enough! And of course, it's an inappropriate use of time when her homework isn't done. So I gave MAX a test. I opened a web browser on my computer, logged into the manager screen, and cut off her Internet. Moments later I heard a sigh of frustration. Our eyes met across the crowded room, and she knew she needed to get back to work.

The amazing thing is I could have checked what she was doing from Timbuktu (assuming I had an Internet connection there). All I need to do is log onto MAX, look at the "Reports" tab and I can see how each member of my family is spending time on the Internet. Has someone's been chatting for an hour instead of doing their math? A push of a button solves the problem.

Many other options are available such as setting time of day usage, or creating email addresses - a service Max provides as your ISP, but also offers strict spam and content filtering to avoid unwanted mail messages. One account also allows you to install MAX on all the computers in your home with no additional charges.

Matt Stanley emphasizes that MAX isn't a babysitter, and underscores the need for parents to always keep tabs on their family's Internet habits. But at least this filtering option, with it's various levels of protection, should prevent those nasty surprises from popping up on your computer screen.

Net Nanny's Internet Safety Partnership Member

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