My son started using the internet to play games on at aged only two and a half. At that time of course he was closely supervised, not least because of my own fascination with his computer skills. As he has grown older, he has gone from playing with the Thomas website and CBeebies to following YouTube suggestions for further videos to watch. As he stumbled upon Dora the Explorer with swear words, I began to realise that he could in fact stumble upon things that I didn’t necessarily want him to see, and this all before he could actually read and write. From working in a youth club for many years I have seen the innovative ways that young people can find to circumvent any blocks or restrictions that the adults place on them.
I set an 18+ search restriction on Google and YouTube but still could not be 100% sure that he wasn’t accessing things that I might not feel to be appropriate. Don’t get me wrong, I am open minded and believe that children have to learn to use their responsibilities wisely and that includes teaching about the dangers of the internet while protecting as much as possible from. principally, child abusers. I consider my son to be intelligent and sensible, but he is only young and as he gets older he might be tempted to look at things that could get him into trouble, or be tricked by somebody posing as somebody who they are not. Let’s face it, even adults have the capacity to be fooled by people.
This was highlighted very clearly recently via a friend of mine. Her daughter, she discovered, was being groomed by somebody posing as a child. It was reported to the police but the advice that they gave to her was to keep her daughter (13) off the internet. In her words to me, that is like finding a flasher in a park and telling you not to go to the park any more. It restricts your freedom and does nothing to address the issue of the stalker. The internet is a rich resource of wonder and I fully believe that preventing kids from using it restricts their access to a wide and varied source of information, entertainment and community. I have recently had some trouble with online stalkers and have discovered that the police are pretty unsure about how to deal with online abuse, and this is an issue that is being addressed, albeit slowly.
So I checked out a product called Titanium Maximum Security by a company called Trend Micro, who provide a complete web protection and antivirus package
across all platforms, including android (the android app is free). At £34.97 it’s not a bad price either, when you consider what is at stake. They differ from traditional antivirus packages by not only protecting against viruses but also guards against identity theft and provides excellent safeguarding for children.
It was easy to download and install, but there is a video online in case you get stuck, and I could immediately see that it was very useful for the family environment. It blocked a lot, including social media sites, which of course I use a lot of. You can set different levels of security and the handy thing about Trend Micro is that you can unblock the sites with a password, either forever, or until the computer is re-started. So, you can go about your social media-ing, or other websites, but if your child wants to access facebook or any other site that Trend Micro has blocked, you can either prevent them altogether, or, type the password in and let them use it while you supervise. It’s a handy ad-blocker too, and blocks banners and advertising. If you want to see them, just type in your password and select the option to permanently unblock them, or block until the device is re-started. It offers cloud based protection, so any threats are dealt with before they even reach your computer, and also provides 5gb storage for your files, which I haven’t tried yet.
It really is simple. I have a friend who is totally paranoid about using the internet so I’m going to show her this and it might set her mind at ease a bit, though on second thoughts, it might actually scare her more, I will have to think about that one. You can read more about it on their website but I’ve been impressed with the level of protection and though it has been frustrating when it’s blocked some of the websites I want to view, I have to think about the bigger picture and the safety of my son.