This is the fourth and final article in the Journal’s series investigating the dangers to children of unsupervised internet use. Business Editor Lindsey Turnbull finds out more from KPMG’s Senior Manager of IT Advisory, Micho Schumann.
Thankfully, parents and guardians can take control when it comes to their child’s internet usage with a slew of parental control software available, such as NetNanny.
Parental control software blocks unsuitable websites and applications and restricts the time a child spends at any one time on the Internet. Parents can set up the software to be very restrictive or not, depending of the age of the child. It does not restrict the parent’s use of the Internet; this is done by using different access profiles. It also logs activities while the child is online and takes a note of chats that take place.
Micho says, “Parental control software creates a management-type set of reports which act as an excellent deterrent for young people! It can also allow access to only a limited number of websites (which is great for very young children) and has many other tools available as well.”
As a rule of thumb, Micho suggests the younger the child the more restrictive the settings when installing a parental control software. Categories of websites that can be blocked include the obvious (pornography, adult/mature, drugs/alcohol and gambling) as well as the not-so-obvious, such as chat sites and games in general.) If a child does try and access a website that is blocked the screen tells the user so and for what category it relates to.
With regard to time allowance, parental control software can prevent young people from going onto the Internet when an adult, such as a parent, is not present. It can also set a time limit for usage so the user does not abuse his or her Internet privileges.
Micho also has some general suggestions for taking control over a young person’s Internet usage.
He says, “Ensure that the computer is in a common area and not in the young person’s bedroom. Also ensure that you improve your own computer literacy so you are able to keep up with your child.”
He also suggests creating a contract between yourself and your child so that you are both fully aware of the boundaries within which your child can use the Internet.
Micho explains, “On the child’s part they should agree to never giving out personal data such as age, address, name of school, without permission. They should only have real life friends when online and not meet or chat with anyone they don’t know in real life. They should not write or post anything (such as a picture or video) that could be hurtful or offensive to someone else. Also it’s important that the child agrees to never install software without permission, never to sign up for services that may cost money (via a credit card) without first getting permission.”
On the parents’ side, Micho suggests that parents agree to set rules, such as the amount of time the child can spend on the Internet, that are fair and openly discussed. Parents ought to also state that although Internet usage will be monitored, this right will not be abused. He also says that parents should agree not to overreact if their child comes to them with a problem or issue arising from Internet usage.
In summation, Micho says that it is important that children be computer literate in today’s world, and that parents or guardians should show trust in their child (while monitoring usage with the appropriate software). Children’s use of chat rooms and social networks should be limited to real life friends only and Micho suggests becoming an online friend to your child yourself.
“Use the Internet with them,” Micho urges.
Highlighting his firm’s commitment to the education of Cayman’s youth in the area of computer literacy, Micho says KPMG has an ongoing commitment to Cayman Prep and High School by providing a computer lab in 2006 as well as ongoing support for computers and software.