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Internet Options For Safe Surfing

In helping children stay safe when accessing the Internet, what options exist for parents and schools?


Internet filtering programs are starting points for helping to keep children safe as they surf the Net. Trying to keep such a product updated can be time-consuming and will always be a bit ineffective considering the size and scope of the Internet. It has also been noted that some Internet filtering companies have their own agendas. Some block the sites of major political parties, religious organizations, and other sites deemed offensive. Some of this is due to the sheer magnitude of the Internet. Some filters will not review free sites, such as those provided by Geocities and Angelfire. Users must continually go in at the master level (very difficult for teachers) and tell the system it is okay to view the pages. One site blocked by BESS because of this policy was The Jefferson Bible. This is a collection of Bible passages selected by Thomas Jefferson.

Ultimately, the best way to make online surfing safe and friendly is for parents to be actively invovled. Just as with books, movies and video games parents have the ultimate responsibility for what their children see and hear. Even sites sponsored by hate groups can become positive learning experiences if parents guide their children through them.

What options do we have to prevent our children from accessing the trash along the Superhighway? Some of the best options are free. Both AltaVista, HotBot, and Google are search engines with filter options. To the side of the search box on the Google main page there is a link for "preferences." Go to this page and scroll down to the SafeSearch Filtering. Here you will see three options.

  1. Use strict filtering (Filter both explicit text and explicit images)
  2. Use moderate filtering (Filter explicit images only - default behavior)
  3. Do not filter my search results.
If you make a change be certain to save it.

AltaVista and HotBot have "preferences" or "settings" links to the right of the search box. For example, with AltaVista you can choose your preferences:

  1. Multimedia Only - filters image, video and audio search only.
  2. Multimedia Only - filters image, video and audio search only.
  3. All - filters all searches: web pages, images, audio and video. Note: With the Family Filter set to "All", you can perform Web searches in only English, French, German and Spanish.
  4. None - will not filter any search.
One of the nice options to the AltaVista search engine is that you can password protect your filter.

Another free option is to use the built-in Internet Options on the Internet Explorer browser. In the toolbar go to View and select Internet Options. Now select Content. Here you will be given choices. After you enable the filter you will password protect this option. You will then be asked to select the rating level for language, sex, violence, nudity. You can manually type in the password to view sites with no ratings or allow these sites to viewed all the time. Otherwise a non-rated site will not appear on the screen and you will be prompted for a password. On most versions you can also add a list of websites that can be viewed without the password. This allows librarians, teachers, and parents to input site addresses that can be accessed for school research, learning centers, etc., without having to constantly type in the password.

Have you read the other articles in this series? Underage Surfers: Children and the Internet; Internet Safety; Internet Blocking Software.

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Content copyright © 2013 by Paula Laurita. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Paula Laurita. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Christine Sharbrough for details.



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