Protecting Your Kids on the Computer

The OH is a total Scrooge when it comes to his nieces and nephews.

When we see them at weekends they usually come to him, cap in hand, like that scene from Oliver.

“Please Uncle, can we have more….Internet?”

OH then bursts into operatic outrage.

“MOOOREE Internet?? Mooooore?!…fa la la laaaaa…etc etc”

And so it goes. Same drama weekend in, weekend out.

You see….the OHs sisters have delegated the task of making all their PCs child friendly to him.

Each computer is now locked down to only allow access to very few child friendly websites. It gives everyone complete piece of mind and means none of the parents have to hover over their (almost teenage) children for every minute of every day watching what they are doing on the Internet.

Of course the pre-teens don’t like this arrangement all the time but it is an accepted part of their online life.

A few weeks ago something happened that had us a bit stunned. The daughter of a family friend came home from school one day distraught that several fake social media accounts had been created using not only her identity but also her photos.

Not only that but the accounts were targeting people she knew including friends, family and her teachers from school.

From looking at the various timelines it looked as if it had started as a bit of a joke but had become malicious as the identity thief seemed to be gaining confidence. Was it a friend pulling a prank that had gone too far? Was it someone older? It was obviously someone she knew or that knew her…but who?

A few weeks passed as the police investigated and tried to trace the guilty party.

What was eventually discovered was probably the thing that shocked most people.

With enough information (and a bit of a hunch) the identity thief was tracked down to none other than a 10 year old boy who lived in the same area.

A boy who obviously had free reign of his pc and Internet access at home without any kind of parental monitoring whatsoever. Free to manipulate and cyber bully as much as he pleased. A boy who was still at primary school!!

Chances are, of course he found it very funny whilst he was getting away with it. We have no idea what action, if any, was taken but there was a throw away comment made about how not enough patents monitor what their children are looking at on the Internet.

There is a very simple and easy way to make sure your kids are safe on the net and (on Windows) it’s known as Family Safety

It lets you control what sites can and can’t be accessed, how much Internet time a certain account is allowed, who has been looking at what …and much much more.

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(It comes as an inbuilt feature in Windows 7 but can be downloaded from the Microsoft pages if you don’t have it)

There’s a lot more info about it here.

Of course this can’t stop your children from potential cyber bullies but if all parents put a feature like this on their PCs it would cut down the number of cases that can be traced back to “a joke gone wrong”.

As a parent I do worry and wonder how much privacy I will give to Little Zs online life. I’ve decided it won’t be a lot really and all his Internet life will be tracked until he is of a suitable and safe age to be let loose. (like about 25!)

The other little tool that OH uses in his position of Internet Scrooge is something called LogMeIn. It’s a little client you download onto the PCs you want to control and follow the instructions. (You need to create an account initially). This then lets you remotely access their desktop from wherever you are (even via your phone).
The OH has found this little gadget particularly handy when he has nieces and nephews calling in the evening needing more Internet time for genuine coursework research.

So there you have it; How to be an Internet Scrooge.

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33 Comments

  1. Sarah MumofThree World May 17, 2013 / 6:43 am

    Wow, that’s interesting advice (although totally shocking about the 10yo). Our kids can’t get on the PC or iPad without us putting a password in, so we always know when they’re on there and do keep checking to see what they’re up to. Would make sense to take further steps though. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Notmyyearoff May 24, 2013 / 4:28 pm

      It is very scary and apparently its not an uncommon thing to hear something like that. Teachers must have so many complex issues to deal with these days once it seeps into schools.

  2. Erica Price May 17, 2013 / 7:29 am

    It’s not the first time I’ve heard of children doing this sort of thing or trolling without really understanding the effects. You’re right of course internet access needs to be restricted and/or monitored closely.

    • Notmyyearoff May 24, 2013 / 4:29 pm

      So scary isn’t it? I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. 10 is no age!

  3. Amy Ransom May 17, 2013 / 7:33 am

    Mine are only 1 and 3 but I’m already thinking about what the Internet will mean in their young lives so this is a very useful post. Thank you. Cyber bullying is one of the most frightening things. The anonymity of it all…

    • Notmyyearoff May 24, 2013 / 4:30 pm

      I already worry about the same thing too. I think at the moment I am very much “everything will be nailed down” attitude but guess that becomes complex as they get older and trust needs to be formed.

  4. Jaime Oliver May 17, 2013 / 8:48 am

    its mad!! i hate my daughter on the internet without me being there i even phone the mobile company and had the internet option taken off her mobile!

    • Notmyyearoff May 24, 2013 / 4:31 pm

      I think phones and ipods can be the worst – because you don’t always automatically click they’re on the net if they don’t have a big laptop in front of them! Scary stuff isnt it?

  5. Mummy of Two May 17, 2013 / 11:34 am

    It is really scary how much children know about computers and the internet – my 4 year old son shocked me the other day when he says he uses Google at school! Thanks for the tips 🙂

    • Notmyyearoff May 24, 2013 / 4:32 pm

      Wow really? Its so good they have all that knowledge at their finger tips but it throws in so many challenges too!

  6. The Loving Parent May 17, 2013 / 12:56 pm

    Wow that is BRILLIANT information. Thanks so much! So worrying that so much potential damage can be done so easily by one so young. 🙁 At ten he should be out and about climbing, kicking balls, running and getting in lots of opportunities to graze his knees! (Oops… up pops Judgemental Me!) Thanks so much for the tip. Really helpful. x

    • Notmyyearoff May 24, 2013 / 4:32 pm

      I agree with that – I’ve read a lot recently on other blogs about how all the technology is contributing to obesity problems and the like.

  7. motherventing May 17, 2013 / 2:22 pm

    It scares me a bit how our children will be growing up with the normality of access to the internet – when we were their age it was not even an issue! I think for our generation, there’s a kind of ‘fear’ of the cyber-unknown – whereas for Z and for Moo, it’ll be commonplace. Anyway, that doesn’t mean their usage shouldn’t be monitored or curtailed. Obvs you’ll do everything you can to protect your kids online, and you actually make it sound like there are simple things to put into place. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Notmyyearoff May 24, 2013 / 4:40 pm

      Yep that’s it – I think IT will become such a normal part of their life you can’t not let them onto it. I just hope I’m not that mad mother that keeps popping up to check on him every 30 seconds

  8. Katie @mummydaddyme May 17, 2013 / 2:37 pm

    This is a really interesting post. And how scary about that story? I do worry about how much of the internet is available to our children. At 28 months Mads can open up you tube on the ipad and access her favourite videos. I let her click away and choose whichever videos she wants, I do vet watch she is doing but she could easily stumble on something that isn’t appropriate. And thats at two!

    • Notmyyearoff May 24, 2013 / 4:33 pm

      Z is the same – complete pro on the ipad. We are always there but it seems to only take a second doesn’t it and next thing you know they’ve clicked some random video!

  9. clairejustineoxox May 17, 2013 / 4:09 pm

    Thanks for sharing with us at welcome to the weekend blog hop 🙂

  10. TheBoyandMe May 17, 2013 / 7:25 pm

    This is a really important post, thanks for sharing it. I am so shocked that a ten year old boy was able to do something like this, he’s going to be one to watch out for in the future 🙁

    • Notmyyearoff May 24, 2013 / 4:34 pm

      I think you’re right – its very scary how a boy so young could be doing this kind of thing. Very worrying 🙁

  11. Verily, Victoria Vocalises May 18, 2013 / 12:04 am

    After the conversation theatre subject today, this is a very relevant subject :). I spoke to a guy who runs a similar program called Claranet. U can’t believe that boys parents weren’t monitoring him though! Thanks for link this very interesting post to PoCoLo Tas xx

    • Notmyyearoff May 24, 2013 / 4:35 pm

      I know – thats the scary thing. I guess some people use it as something to baby sit their kids and as long as they’re quiet then all is ok in the world!

  12. littleeandbean May 18, 2013 / 7:34 am

    Thanks so much for sharing! It’s depressing how necessary this information is. As a teacher I hear about far too many incidents like this, and the amount of trolling and cyber bullying that goes on is just ridiculous; it’s become an inherent part of Internet culture for children.
    I guess this is something we’ll have to be even more vigilant about when our boys are older. I hope, somehow, the technology moves on so that they’re safer.

    • Notmyyearoff May 24, 2013 / 4:36 pm

      I hope so too. I don’t want to be the parent that is like a dictator but at the same time I don’t want to the one who’s letting their child roam free in cyber world and get into trouble because of it

  13. Pinkoddy May 18, 2013 / 12:04 pm

    See I don’t think I want a programme that restricts my children. There is always going to be a way they can get online – even if it is from a friend’s mobile. The Internet is becoming more and more widely available.
    As with everything I think knowledge is power, parents monitoring (but not restricting with programmes). Explaining what they can/can’t/shouldn’t do – and proper discipline with it.
    Great post – sorry to hear about that little girl

    • Notmyyearoff May 24, 2013 / 4:38 pm

      I know what you mean – building trust is so important isn’t it if we want balanced good children that grow up to be good adults. Its a hard one! I just hope I know how to handle it when z is older.

  14. Franglaise Mummy May 18, 2013 / 5:58 pm

    That bit about someone (a 10 year old!) setting up an account in someone else’s name is so scary! Hubs is in IT so I always thought our kids would be safe but even so I see now there is no guarantee. All very worrying.

    • Notmyyearoff May 24, 2013 / 4:38 pm

      That;’s the thing – OH and I are in IT and so we are always surrounded by laptops and online. Its just normal for us. Throwing in a child into a equation and its like a can of worms!

  15. Coombemill - Fiona May 18, 2013 / 11:55 pm

    This is a great post and so helpful. My kids are fr too savvy on the computer, controls are a great way forward.

    • Notmyyearoff May 24, 2013 / 4:39 pm

      I think even my 2 year old is becoming more savvy than me when it comes to the ipad!

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  17. Izzie Anderton June 10, 2013 / 9:24 pm

    Thank you for the excellent advice. I mentor teens and have come across cyber-bullying and dealing with the consequences several times. I have been pretty lucky with my two – they only opened Facebook accounts when they were 18 and still only accept friend requests from people they know!!

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