Within a domestic environment, there are a number of safety software packages that you can install on your computers. Windows, Norton and Mac all offer family packages to block unwanted sites and to monitor what your children are looking at. However, you cannot ensure that your child will only access online content in a safe environment.
David Cameron has pledged that all new computers will have firewalls programmed as standard, but this is some way off becoming a reality. In the meantime, your child can be accessing inappropriate material totally inadvertently – whether it is at someone else’s house or on a phone or tablet. This can be extremely upsetting, especially for younger children, and it may not be something that they are able to vocalize. Marian Merritt, a Norton Security Internet Safety Advocate, explains that children are often reluctant to discuss bad experiences that they have had. She cautions against overdramatising situations. If you are concerned that your child may have been exposed to inappropriate material, discuss it in the third person in unsensationalist terms, “I had heard of such and such doing such and such. Have you come across something like that?”
Everyone I have spoken to agrees that the key to a successful internet experience is to keep an open dialogue. The sophisticated software available from companies such as Norton and Intego goes much further than this and allows parents to monitor not only what their children are accessing online but also what they are saying by looking at the key strokes they are typing. To me, this sounds a lot like spying. That said, parents should regularly check the history section of what their children have been searching online. If the history has been cleared, you should ask why.