One of the most common questions parents ask me is, “How do you filter/monitor your kids’ Internet activity?” In our house, it’s through the utilization of Microsoft’s free Windows Family Safety software.
This only works on Windows PCs, but since my wife is the only one for which I’ve ponied up the money for a Macbook, the kids all still have basic Windows laptops, so this option works well for us. We’re also still using Windows 7, so I can’t quite speak to the cool new Windows 8 solutions either. That said, I can tell you about my experience with Windows 7 and Windows Family Safety.
Overall, our family is very pleased with the experience. The kids do get annoyed sometimes when the filter gets a bit over ambitious on the Pinterest posts (almost anything with any sort of skin gets blocked – i.e. cute bracelets and ring photos). But I’d rather have it error on that side than the alternative.
Family Safety does an admirable job of filtering out all the bad stuff the Internet has to offer. It provides a number of “levels” of filtering, as well as a very comprehensive reporting tool listing everything your kids visit online. It’s cloud based, which lets you log on from any computer to check on things, and it even has tools to set time limits and such for each child.
And my favorite feature: it’s FREE! Yeah, I’m geeky and cheap.
NOTE: This only helps protect your kid’s computers. Don’t forget about the rest of your Internet-enabled devices. Read this post for more details on DNS Filters for your Internet router, and this post for more info on locking up your iPhones, iPods, and iPads.
And don’t be shy, please share this with other parents so they can learn how to better protect their kids from the nasty underbelly of the Internet.