The Pros & Cons of Filtering with Parental Control Software

by | Oct 6, 2015 | Savvy Parents | 13 comments

Why have software to monitor our childrens online activity?

As parents, we know that the Internet is not always the safest place for our children. Still, it would be unreasonable, as well as not in our child’s best interests, to totally forbid it, as it is an incredible source of information. Therefore, parents are caught between wanting their child to gain knowledge and learn how to handle technology through learning their own lessons – and keeping them safe from potential online dangers.

Children on computer

A parent also knows that a forbidden thing will often appear far more appealing to the curious child, who will find all the potential ways of exploring it without their parent’s knowledge. No parent would like to feel like his child is sneaking behind his back. So, a way to keep things under control and still allow your child to navigate over the Internet is through parental control software.

Filtering software can be very useful, particularly in the case of younger children. Either by accident or by design, they may stumble across web pages that contain unsuitable content for their age group. Whether it is through curiosity or a lack of awareness, children like to look at things they haven’t seen before – and some of the content they may come across could have a detrimental effect on their young minds.

Communicating with your child

Using specially designed software may sound like the easy option then for monitoring your child online, but there are many things that you should consider when deciding to use such software. I always advocate open communication with your children on the correct use of the Internet first and foremost, with the primary goal to offer children a proper online education so that they are ultimately “website-savvy“ and able to protect themselves.

Indeed, it would be ideal if the topic of “Digital Citizenship” were to be addressed more regularly within the school system since technology and the Internet are very important aspects of today’s society – and some schools have started to take on this responsibility. Unfortunately, this is not often the case meaning that it usually falls to parents to manage this area – making the use of monitoring software much more necessary.

Even so, parental filtering software should remain a back up rather than something you rely on. When your young child first starts to use the Internet, you should make sure you are present at all times. By using one-to-one parental supervision, and explaining the reasons why certain online behaviours are unacceptable, your child will gradually learn how to use their technology in a respectful way and can avoid the harmful aspects of the Internet.

It is much better to create an atmosphere of trust between you and your child, instead of continuously suspecting your child of doing something forbidden. In the long term, if you use website blocking software behind your child’s back, your relationship will suffer due to lack of trust and communication, and the things you don’t want him or her to do may be done just because you told the child not to do so. After each lesson is learned you can loosen up the rules a little, and offer your child a bit more freedom.

The Pros and Cons

Let’s take a better look at the pros and cons of using parental filtering software. The following details will help you, the parent, develop the best strategy for managing this issue, together with your child.

Parental Monitoring Image

Pros

With the help of such software, you can easily block websites that might have inappropriate content, like pornography, violence, sexting, cyber-bullying and so on.

You can track and be aware of every action your child is doing online, meaning that you can act on and take the proper measures if the situation requires it.

As a parent, you may also learn new things about how to protect your child from harmful content on the Internet and how to take the best measures to keep him safe.

The software allows you to make customizable settings, according to the child’s age. This means as your child grows and learns you can give them more access based on their maturity level and requirements.

Also, you can block any attempts of sending personal information to other parties over the Internet.

Cons

The blocking software may accidentally prevent you from accessing websites with useful information.

Using the software may create tension between you and your child. He or she may feel like they are being spied on, plus they may be annoyed at certain websites they wish to access being blocked.

There is the risk that you rely fully on the software, forgetting about the importance of being there for your child, explaining and offering the education he needs for future use of the Internet.

A child’s intelligence should not be underestimated, as they can always find new ways around the security you are using. They may use other devices (a friends phone, for instance).  This shows how important education is – more important than simply blocking the Internet.

Websites appear over the Internet with incredible speed, so it is impossible to have 100% protection with this software.

Making the right decision for your family

Now that you know the main pros and cons of using parental control software, you can take the best decision for your own family. Still, I would not recommend that you rely solely on the software – as it will always remain subject to errors. Instead, I would suggest that it’s used as additional support for your goal of educating your child.

Communication and being there for your child to explain what it good and what is wrong, and why things are that way, should go hand-in-hand with the utilization of the software. This method will only block their access, without offering precious explanations why that is happening. Children are curious, so it is best to talk to them and answer their questions, instead of just telling them “no”, by using website blocking software.

A child, regardless of their age, is capable of understanding a lot of things. So don’t hesitate to try to explain how things are in real life, concerning the use of the Internet. Knowing that she is capable of using the Internet in a correct and safe manner will give you peace of mind and strengthen your relationship. She will know that she can come to you if she encounters any issue in the online environment. If she feels that she cannot talk to you, it may prevent your child from telling you when something is wrong, potentially leading to other more serious issues.

Still you can’t always be there 100% of the time when your child is online, so monitoring software can help you to check in and be sure that those lessons are being learned! In a world that is rarely ideal, this is a decision that can help parents to monitor their child as they navigate the difficult aspects of the Internet and learn about how to be savvy online surfers.

How do you feel about using Parental Software?  How do you monitor your children on the internet?  Please join in the conversation by leaving a comment or asking a question below.

Happy Savvy Surfing.

Sarah

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