By Laura Yecies
In a recent post, I talked about the challenges of protecting your kids on the Internet. Now, I want to talk about one of key weapons in your arsenal – the Parental Control feature in your ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite.
You’ll find the Parental Control feature in the tabs on the left-hand navigation bar in your ZA user interface. It’s a deceptively simple feature – essentially, you can pick and choose what types of Web sites your kids are allowed to visit.
There are a wide variety of categories, enabling you to customize your protection depending on the age and risk of your particular child. For example, for a very young child with little experience on the Internet, you may want to restrict all “at risk” categories, and perhaps bookmark a few that your child is allowed to roam freely. This allows your child to learn how to use the Internet for research and entertainment.
For my children, because they are older (12 and 15), I chose to unmark some categories, such as MP3s, News, Online Games, Message Boards etc. Many of these sites aren’t inherently dangerous, but can lead to dangerous behavior or situations. So before I lowered the settings, I spent a little extra time discussing with them the dangers and helping them understand how to stay safe (although, in reality, they were also teaching me!). But it’s important for them to know that I’m aware of their activities.
Along that line, I also recommend keeping Internet-connected PCs in a central part of the home, so you can always keep an eye on Internet surfing. As long as kids think there’s a chance mom might walk by when their online, it’s unlikely they’ll push the envelope too far.
But what if you don’t have children, does this feature offer any benefit to you?
Because this feature can prevent your browser from being redirected to dangerous Web sites. Or it can correct a mistake – for example, if you mistype a url or click on a trick link in a search engine. So even if you don’t have kids, use it!
Of course, if you’re using ZoneAlarm ForceField, you’ll also have protection against malicious Web sites. But every layer of security helps.
Ultimately, Parental Control is about giving you the means to keep your kids safe on the Internet. The Internet is a fun, educational and social tool that will enable your child to grow into tech-savvy adults, and you want to let them get the most out of it while keeping them safe.