End Cyberbullying: Round-Up of Parental Control Tools for the Internet

Parental Control
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I started wondering about all of the Parental Control (PC) tools out there, and I thought a Round-Up document might be helpful for us all.

PC tools range from software to services, and there are even some devices. Most include web filtering and blocking, so that you can prevent your kids from seeing sites and content which contains inappropriate language and images. Some capture every keystroke on a computer. Some are focused on email and chat, others are Facebook, others on the entire Internet. Some even have capabilities for mobile smart phones.

What I Did to Create the Round-Up

I searched the Internet and collected information on as many PC tools as I could find. The Round-Up document which results, includes:

  • The name of each PC tool
  • A link to its web site location
  • A description of the PC tool – I chose to copy the manufacturer’s description rather than come up with something of my own, so that you can see exactly what the manufacturer says about their tool
  • A list of the key functions provided by the tool
  • The price
  • When I was able to find online reviews of the product, I included a link to the review, as well

The Round-Up list is provided in alphabetical order. Visit our Resources page to download the latest updated version.

The Round-Up is Not a Review

As a word of explanation, the Round-Up itself is not a review. I have not tested nor evaluated any of the services or products found in the document. The information that I provide in the document, is what I was able to find online – and some of it may be out-of-date.

I did make an attempt to validate that all tools which I included in the document, are currently available in the market.

The list is likely not a complete listing, because there are so MANY PC tools out there – with new introductions happening all of the time. I was surprised by the variety of PC options available. This is good news, as each of us can likely find the exact right type of tool that can work best for our individual family.

Please enjoy the list. I hope you find it useful. And, if you become aware of any inaccuracies in the list or PC tools which should be added, please send your corrections to me at:
onlinesocialsavvy@gmail.com

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Autism Online: Special Considerations For Those With Special Needs

The Scenic Railway at Luna Park (Melbourne, Au...
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It so happens that my lovely and inquisitive 13yo has been diagnosed as being in the Autistic spectrum. The original diagnosis came when she was 3yo. We were told by the “experts” to expect that she would need to be “institutionalized” – 90% certainty. Our family’s learning curve and experiences since then have been akin to a roller-coaster – much as you would expect.

I give you this background, so that you understand: I speak from being in the parent’s seat on this topic. Part of my role is to help my child become socialized at all levels in her life – including online. But, I have special concerns and more unique questions, than most other parents likely experience.

Autistic Children At Gaming Sites: More Likely to be Labeled as Cheaters?

It is well known in the Autistic community, that our children gravitate towards online games. Computers and gaming systems respond predictably – and offer opportunities for structured socialization at online gaming sites, which is often more appealing to our kids than Real Life (RL) socialization.

These kids are often also very good at playing these games. There is something about how they process visual information, which seems to offer an advantage to their play.

Now comes a story reported by King5 - a local news station in Seattle – that a local boy with Autism has been labeled a cheater by Microsoft at the X-Box gaming site.

“Julius can’t play sports,” says his mother Jennifer Zdenek, as quoted in the story. “He went to basketball school, couldn’t take the basketball because he thought it was stealing someone’s toy, so this is it.”

Autism sites, like The Autism News, are asking Autistic communities to spread the word: Microsoft has refused to change the boy’s status and remove the cheater label.

New Social Opportunities Through Social Media for Those with Autism

Gaming sites are not the only new social opportunity, for those with Autism. Last summer, Global Shift reported on the experience of Carly Fleischmann, a young woman whose autism left her mute. She uses Twitter and Facebook to communicate with the world – and even introduced Temple Grandin at an event by typing her speech into a computer.

Autism Community Benefits from Social Media

The Internet and social media have offered many benefits to autism communities worldwide. Parents are in active communication and feel empowered to find the latest information on the disorder. Resource cites, like the AutSpot, offer easy and fast access to a wide variety of services, information, and advice.

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One Family’s Experience Raising a Child in the Internet Age

OK I’ll admit it.  My wife and I were weird parents.  We had a very democratic style when it came to parenting.  There are a lot of resources available for which types of parenting style might be good for your child – this article in particular is a good one.

Our parenting style looked something like this:

  • We never tried to make our kid do something she didn’t want to do (unless it violated one of the rules below)
  • We didn’t require her do any housework
  • We paid her allowance every week just “for being a kid”
  • We never gave her more than a course-correcting discussion when she did something wrong – with one or two exceptions in 17 years
  • We had no rules about TV time, video game time, or time spent on the computer in general (yes, I realize this is controversial)
  • Once she was intelligent enough to make choices for herself, we had rational conversations about her life choices, and let her make them

There were only a handful of topics for which we had structure:

  • Excellence in school without exception
  • Respect for others, always
  • If you leave the house, we want to know where you’re going and what time you’re coming home
  • Once she was a teenager, no boys could be in her room alone with her
  • Internet/Social Media full disclosure

Now, I do realize that every kid is different, and that our list of rules could have been a lot longer depending on her behavior as she was growing up.  I realize that this parenting style might not work for every kid out there.  “Your mileage may vary” definitely applies here.

The last “rule” above is the one I’d like to focus on here.  Some of you may be surprised to see such a specific rule amongst a bunch of really important rules, but we did consider it to be very important in this new age of the Internet.

So, what did “Internet/Social Media full disclosure” mean to us?  Here are a list of ground rules that we agreed on with our child:

  1. Any online accounts you create must be disclosed.  If you create a username and password on any site on the internet, you will disclose that username and password to us.  No exceptions.
  2. You will not post your real name, phone number, address, or any other personal information online.  A couple of exceptions do exist to this rule.
  3. You will accept all “friend” or “follow” requests from us on your social media accounts.
  4. You will set your security on your social media accounts so we can see all of your activities, but so that strangers cannot.
  5. You will not “friend” or accept “friend requests” from complete strangers online
  6. You will always talk to us when something happens online that makes you uncomfortable or makes you feel bad.
  7. You will receive education from us on how to avoid online scams, potentially harmful or dangerous sites, and how to avoid getting caught in these types of traps.

All of that said, we did a lot of talking and reinforcing with our kid to make the above rules work.  Again, this is anecdotal and represents our experiences with our child who grew up in this new age.

In a series of future blog posts, I will go into greater detail as to the different pieces of the “Internet/Social Media full disclosure” rules, and how to set those up and reinforce them with your children.

Look for more on this topic in the coming days/weeks!

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