Speaking to a customer who was trying out ComputerTime, I was asked if ComputerTime did parental control types of things. What she really was asking was, “Does ComputerTime do internet filtering?” Some people think the terms are synonymous. But parental control software is a more general term and can refer to different types of control.
Blocking and Logging Parental Control Software
Most parental control software that hit the market over a decade ago, primarily monitored or blocked websites along with other internet related activities. Some software went as far as spying on kids every activity.
Website blocking software has never been extremely effective*. To be effective, the database of sites that need to be blocked has to be complete. But everyday, tens of thousands of new domains are registered. Old domains expire and are acquired by people who put up different web pages than the previous owners. If you feel comfortable utilizing a tool that may only be 90% accurate — that’s better than nothing — but don’t rely on it for real protection.
I Spy with my 25 Eyes by nickhall
Tools that give parents detailed logs of websites visited, every keystroke typed, and even screen snapshots seem a bit creepy. Just because parents can monitor every aspect of their kids online lives, is it the right thing to do? Parents will take different sides on this issue. Parents today should think back to when they were kids: If your parents clandestinely listened in on your phone conversations, or trailed you in their cars at a distance, using parabolic microphones to listen to your conversations across the parking lot, would you resent or respect them for how they handled your upbringing.
SoftwareTime’s Approach to Parental Control
SoftwareTime‘s stance is that the best web filter is the watchful eye of the parent. Ensure that computers are located in a public area of the house and if you choose, set limits that disallow use of the computer at times that you won’t be around to keep an eye on the activity.
ComputerTime encourages responsible use of computers. Kids push against boundaries, not always respecting limits. They don’t always act in their own best interest, and ignore consequences. Parental guidance is required. ComputerTime helps parents to provide this guidance, but does not replace parents.
With ComputerTime, it’s you, the parent, that still sets the rules for how long and when your kids can be on the computer. You can be strict with the limits that you set, or you can be flexible and let the kids manage their time within relaxed constraints if they have shown themselves to be more responsible. Since you’re only managing time with ComputerTime, it’s a less intrusive type of parental control.
Things Are and Aren’t Different Today
Kids with cell phones, the web, IM, email, FaceBook, MySpace… It’s a whole new world.
But kids themselves, they haven’t changed all that much. The aspire to be trusted, respected, loved, appreciated, etc.
The best way to handle our children in today’s technology-saturated world is similar to what our parents would have done when we were kids:
- Have a good, open relationship with our kids where they feel comfortable talking with you. Spying on them would joepardize that relationship, so don’t do that.
- Provide guidance. Teach your kids good values and responsibility so that kids can do the right thing whether that be at the playground, the mall, or online.
- Pay attention to your kids. You’ll know when something is wrong; attentive parents notice subtle changes in kids behavior and moods when they are in trouble.
- Give them roots and wings
Do you agree with this philosophy? Do you think parents always be aware of exactly what’s going on? Overtly or covertly? Leave a comment below.
A quick shout out to my friend Brett, who posted about his fears and uncertainties about how to best handle the issue of how much privacy he should give his kids when they’re old enough to get onto the Internet. It’s a problem that a lot of parents wrestle with, and inspired me to share my two cents.