This is a topic that I have talked about before but I feel it’s important to remind people from time to time that their children are at risk on the internet. With our busy lives and hectic schedules we sometimes just can’t find the time to do everything and monitoring our child’s behavior on the internet is often one of those things that just doesn’t get done. The truth is that it doesn’t take much time to figure out what sites your child routinely visits and it’s not necessary to sit and watch them for hours if you know how to do certain things.
The simplest and quickest way to check up on your child’s internet habits is to simply check the history of your browser. Your browser will show you every site that your child has visited on the internet in reverse chronological order, that is to say the most recent will be first. One word of caution however; a child that is computer savvy will be able to delete any history in the browser that they want to keep secret and you will never know it. If this is a possibility than you will want to decide on a different monitoring method.
Many people don’t know that they can use their wireless router to monitor internet usage. Some routers offer this option while some do not. All you need to do is to type the IP address of your router into the address bar of your browser. If you’re not sure what the IP address is you can find out by simply a command window (run CMD.exe in Windows) and typing in ipconfig/all. The number listed under “Default Gateway” is your IP address. You may or may not need a password to access your router. If you do you can check the paperwork that came with your router or contact the manufacturer online to obtain it.
Once you enter the IP address in your address bar and hit “enter” you will be able to access your router. You can then click on “logs” to see a list of websites that have been visited on your computer. It’s very much the same as viewing your browser history but most children know nothing about this little secret. Depending upon the features of your router you may also be able to create a list of websites that you don’t want your child to have access to. Some routers even allow you to receive an email if your child tries to access any of the blocked sites. It’s just that simple and it doesn’t cost a single penny to do it.
A third option for monitoring the activity of your computer is to use software designed for that purpose. There are many services to choose from and they are all very reasonably priced. One of my favorites is McGruff SafeGuard because it allows you to remotely monitor your child’s conversation on the computer and even translates all of those annoying abbreviations that kids use online today if you are not familiar with them. Never the less there are many choices for concerned parents and it’s best to do a little research to find which program is best suited for your needs.
Regardless of what method you decide to use to keep an eye on your child’s internet usage, talking to him/her is something you should do from time to time. Remind them of the dangers of talking to strangers online and be sure they know which sites you do not want them to visit. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and being able to monitor the activity of your computer will bring you peace of mind that your child is using the internet in a safe and appropriate manner.