Creating a safer online environment for your family.
Kids and teens are using the PC today more than ever, to learn, explore, socialize. This tool has really opened up the world to us all just with the click of a button. But along with that it can also bring risks into your home. It's impossible to monitor your child's online activities 24/7 and it's impractical to forbid them online access.
The key here is to talk to your children about their online usage, just as you would talk to them about drugs and strangers. There are also tools to help implement the rules you set while they're online. Just like we think about protecting kids in the real world, talking to kids about not accepting candy from strangers, the same is true online. If you don't know who messages are coming from or what they contain, absolutely do not accept them.
Talk to children about drawing that correlation between the real world and also what's online. Because we need to be thinking about the same safety factors in both places. Family online safety has become an important issue. And companies are stepping up to the plate, providing content, information, and tools to enable parents.
This Family's Safety Campaign teaches parents what tools they can use to create a safe environment for their children that they are comfortable with and is easy to manage. These tools help you set parameters around what type of content can and cannot be accessed by your child.
So when we talk about family safety, we really talk about protecting kids from two different things. At home in the evenings kids doing homework on the computer and you're around, you know what's going on because you're present.
But oftentimes you have households where two parents work and a child may be home alone after school, and certainly you want them to be able to do their homework and be productive or the other things they may do online that allows you to feel comfortable because you can actually get updates sent to a remote PC, to cell phones and so forth where you can get that information. So you can know what's going on in your home even when you're not present.
Basically what we're doing is we built up at our servers a language analysis tool, language analysis engine, which interprets all the IM conversations that your children will have, whether it be in IM or on MySpace on the commenting session where they're trading comments back and forth with their friends.
We look for fingerprints of bad conversations: are your parents home my parents aren't home I'm going to sneak out here's my phone number, any number of things that would indicate a potentially dangerous situation. When that happens we send an e-mail to the parent saying you should come by the website, view the alert we triggered and we give them a snapshot of the conversation.
We give them the information they need to be better parents. There's two ways with Safe Eyes that a parent can know what their children are doing online. First we have our logging which creates a verbose log that a child can do online and second a usage alert instant notification sent via phone call, text message or e-mail.
We really leave it up to the parent with Safe Eyes. What we envisioned was creating a tool set for parents to be able to parent. It's still up to the parent to decide what is appropriate or not appropriate for their particular family. But with Safe Eyes we created the framework to give them the ability to control what is appropriate.
Kids are so trusting in nature that they don't really think about what pieces of information they give out online when they're IMing or chatting. Small tidbits here and there like the city they live in, their school mascot, their favorite hangout all can lead to your child's where abouts to someone they don't know.
When the kids set up a user name make it something that doesn't say their age or gender where they live. That's a common mistake that an eight to 12-year-old will make. They'll actually put their real name, their real town they live in, the year they were born in their user name. It's a common sense mentality that you want to have with your child and embrace it and tell them that when we put on parental controls and filters it's not just for you, it's for the whole family because we all want to have a safe experience when we're on the Internet and it's something that's important.
With Microsoft's release of Vista this is really the first time that parental controls have ever been incorporated into an operating system, which is just a huge win for parents. And so Vista's parental controls allow parents to set time limits, to set grade levels or rating levels for games or content that are used on there.
Child Safe layers in with Vista parental controls, Vista parental controls is a very good tool, very powerful tool and Child Safe actually layers into that too, where, when you launch the parental controls you'll see the Child Safe button come up. Teaching the child online etiquette, no matter what age they are, is to sit down with them and establish online etiquette and let them know that that behavior is expected whether in the home or whether out of the home. MySpace is a hot topic right now.
It's easy just to say I'm going to block MySpace with parental controls but your child is going to find a way to get on MySpace. They're going to use proxy servers. They're going to go to a friend's house. They're going to go to a place of business, somewhere where they know someone works, they're going to get online and get on MySpace. What we recommend is parents create their own MySpace, become a friend of their child so they can see who their child's talking to, who they're making friends with, and you can have an open dialogue and discourse with your child about the Internet and about what's going on. For more information on online family safety, please visit this website.