If you're concerned about what your kids - especially elementary school kids - see when they surf the internet, there are tools to consider. Keep in mind that while parental controls work well for young children, teens who've been online for years probably won't have much trouble working around them or finding other computers to use.
What Can You Do?
Parental control options include:
Filtering and blocking.
These tools limit access to certain sites, words, or images. Some products decide what's filtered; others leave that to parents. Some filters apply to websites; others to email, chat, and instant messaging.
Blocking outgoing content.
This software prevents kids from sharing personal information online, in chat rooms, or via email.
This software allows you to limit your kid's time online and set the time of day they can access the internet.
Browsers for kids.
These browsers filter words or images deemed inappropriate for kids.
Kid-oriented search engines.
These perform limited searches or screen search results for sites and material appropriate for kids.
This software alerts parents to online activity without blocking access. Some tools record the addresses of websites a child has visited; others provide a warning message when a kid visits certain sites. Monitoring tools can be used with or without a kid's knowledge.
The best way to protect your kids online is to talk to them.
When children want important information, most rely on their parents. Children value the opinions of their peers, but tend to rely on their parents for help on the issues that matter most.
Check out sites your kids visit.
Be picky with your permission.
Websites can request your consent in a number of ways, including by email and postal mail. Before you give consent, make sure you know what information the site wants to collect and what it plans to do with it. And consider how much consent you want to give - it's not all or nothing. You might give the company permission to collect some personal information, for example, but not allow them to share that information with others.