Internet Controls to Invest In
One tip all online safety experts also suggest: Google your child's name periodically to see what comes up. "This is how one family learned there was dangerous information about their child online, which no one knew about,"' says Fitzgerald.
"No matter how young a child is, he or she is going to have some access to the Internet," Moreau points out. A survey released in June 2011 from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center and the Sesame Workshop found that nearly 80 percent of children age 5 and under use the Internet on a weekly basis, and very young children are increasingly consuming all types of digital media and more than one type at a time. Another survey by AVG.com found that the average American child spends four hours online each week, slightly more than the worldwide average of 3? hours per week.
Setting up security software, then, is an essential part of keeping your child safe from online dangers. Net Nanny ($39.99) can block pornography, hate sites, online gambling sites, and questionable chat rooms. You can set it up so that kids install and play computer games only with parental ratings that you deem appropriate. It will also examine the content of Instant Messages (IM) and allow you to limit the length and time periods your kids spend on the Internet. Safe Eyes ($49.95) is similar to Net Nanny, with the added ability to block specific content on YouTube and iTunes. You can see both sides of an IM chat, keep track of your child's email contacts, and record when sensitive information is posted on social networking sites.