Technological Solutions to Guarding Kids
Monitoring and approving all high-tech interactions is, realistically, very difficult at best if not humanly impossible. Therefore, adequately guarding kids from harmful material requires both human and technological assistance. A combination of hardware, software, and human effort provides very reasonable security which should help us sleep better at night knowing that appropriate boundaries have been restored. Following are several technologically based measures from which you can choose. Each focuses on a different risk although can be effective in guarding kids in one or more areas. For instance, anti-pop-up software can help prevent exposure to pornography, inappropriate websites, and potential viruses. Today’s filtering/blocking software will be a primary precaution for many of the risks overviewed in this book.
Before continuing, however, I do want to re-emphasize that technological solutions to guarding kids is not a replacement for human intervention. We need to help children be knowledgeable about the use (and misuse) of technology, teach them how to make good decisions about how they use technology, and help them police themselves (and perhaps each other) when they are “off track.” Technological solutions are, in my opinion, an effective secondary measure or backup to how we prepare and supervise our children otherwise. In no particular order, here are some viable solutions you can implement right away:
Remember, pop-ups are those pesky little windows that “pop up” while you are browsing. Some will open as soon as the web page you are visiting finishes downloading, others will come up when hovering your mouse cursor over a link, and yet others will open upon leaving the page. They often contain advertising information or worse, bombard you with one pornographic website after another. They are difficult to deal with because the windows open without any buttons to close. Even if you can close a pop-up, frequently another one or more opens right up in its place. The good news is that Pop-Ups have significantly declined as a problem or issue for several reasons. First, they are so annoying that companies that used them were experiencing the opposite effect – users would shy away from the website or worse, boycot the company or website altogether. Second, software became increasingly more powerful for blocking pop-ups which meant that these companies were wasting their time withe content that was rarely viewed. That is, the effectiveness of pop-ups has been greatly compromised. However, they still exist which means that its still a good idea to incorporate anti-pop-up solutions.
Usually the only way to stop pop-ups is to close the browser by clicking on the red “X” in the top right corner or, in Windows, hold the Alt key and press F4 very quickly to close these windows at a rapid pace. Another more effective way to prevent pop-ups altogether is to install a program (usually free) called a pop-up blocker. Here are several:
- Most search engine toolbars such as the Google Toolbar (http://toolbar.google.com/) or Yahoo! Toolbar (http://toolbar.yahoo.com/) includes a pop-up blocker for the Internet Explorer browser;
- If you’re using Windows XP and have the Service Pack 2 (SP2) installed (http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/sp2/default.mspx), you have a pop-up blocker. When you install SP2, Pop-up Blocker is turned on in Internet Explorer and set to the medium setting, which means it will block most automatic pop-ups. The default settings for the pop-up blocker allow you to see pop-ups that are opened when you click a link or button on a website. Pop-up Blocker will also play a sound and show the Information Bar when a pop-up is blocked. You can adjust these settings so that Pop-up Blocker works the way you want it to.
- Another popular pop-up stopper that works with both Internet Explorer is called Pop-Up Stopper® Free Edition (http://www.panicware.com/product_psfree.html). The Professional version works with other such as the increasingly popular Firefox, AOL, MSN, Mozilla Firefox, Netscape 4.x, 6.x, 7.x, Opera 6.x - 7.x, SBC Yahoo, WMConnect, CompuServe, Juno, NetZero, Mozilla 1.7.3 or older.
- Other free pop-up blockers can be found at http://www.popuptest.com/software/freeware_popblock.html
It doesn’t hurt to have a couple of these running at the same time. I have found that the pop-up blockers that come with the Google Toolbar and Internet Explorer 7.0 running at the same time have solved the problem for me almost entirely. Once you’ve installed your blockers, you can test them out by visiting http://www.popuptest.com/.
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