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Internet Safety: Parental Controls that Build Relationships

Last Updated: June 12, 2014

I didn’t want just a filter that was like a fence around my kids. Fences might be good for keeping dogs in, but they only provide a temptation for people. You always want to see what’s on the other side—particularly with the Internet, especially if you know nobody is really watching.” – Ron DeHaas, founder of Covenant Eyes

(This video is an excerpt from UNFILTERED: Equipping Parents for an Ongoing Conversation about Internet Pornography.)

Two Reasons Accountability Software is Important

When it comes to Internet safety, parental controls often focus on only one method: blocking content.

But accountability software is not the same as Internet filtering. A filter blocks access to specific places online; accountability services do not. While people frequently use accountability and filtering together, accountability services monitor and report the sites that have been visited and the apps that have been used.

1. Internet accountability is important is because secrecy has become the norm. According to recent research, 71% of teens have done something to hide what they do online from their parents. This includes clearing browser history, minimizing a browser window when in view, deleting inappropriate videos, lying about online behavior, blocking parents with social media privacy settings, and using private browsing.

2. Internet accountability is important because it offers “relational” parental controls. Internet safety is not merely a matter of shielding young eyes from bad content. Internet safety is about training kids to become adults in a world without filters. Nothing does this better than having a healthy, constant conversational relationship with your child about their online choices. To do this, however, we need to know where they are going online.

Seven Steps to Internet Safety: Parental Controls in Your Home

Good parental controls begin with conversation. As you set down clear rules for using the Internet in the home, remember the importance of keeping a warm, open dialogue with your kids.

As the video stated above, here are seven steps you should take right away in your home.

  1. Adopt this policy: If I am not willing to monitor a device, I will not provide it.
  2. Review and configure all parental controls for devices in your home. Make sure you have administrative controls on every device.
  3. Review every app on your child’s devices. Make sure you can control when apps are added and deleted.
  4. Discuss Internet concerns with the parents of your children’s friends. See what protocols they have in place.
  5. Limit the times of day your child spends online.
  6. Require all computers and phones be outside the bedroom, especially at night.
  7. Install Covenant Eyes on every device in your home. Use it to monitor where your kids go online and then start having good conversations with them about the choices they are making.

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