Browsers, Filters, Kids, and "the talk”

The time has come in our house to find a good child-friendly web browser for the Macintosh. Our choice, so far, is Bumper Car. Is this the best brower for us? Perhaps.

High Tech Parent: Child-Safe Web Browsers on the Mac

I was asked today about when is the “right” time to introduce web filters into the household?  Well, I went into a typical izzy-ramble for fifteen minutes, beating the topic to a fine powder.  Afterwards, low and behold I found this wee gem on High Tech Parent‘s blog.  What luck!

Anyway, it occurred to me that I’ve not rambled online about this in a while… so I thought I’d bring out my points:

  1. Whenever you think to yourself “is now the time to get a filter?” – regardless of your child’s age (2-18)- do it.  Why?  Because something in your head threw a yellow flag of caution.  Trust your gut, peeps.  Besides, is safety ever too soon?
  2. But my kids can’t type yet!  It’s not only the typing, my friends.  It’s the mouse.  Point, click, roam.  Kids click, click, click– half the time they’re don’t even know what they’re clicking on.  And remember those wacky interactive ads (Pumble the President and what naught)– those look like games.  All it takes is a click click and you’re down the rabbit hole.
  3. TALK TO YOUR KIDS, TWEENS, TEENS, SPOUSE.  Explain.  Give reasons and concerns and rationalizations and understandings and *non-finger-pointing* worries.  Be open and honest and work through it together.  You are NOT the Emperor of computer-ville.  You are NOT the prince of Laptopia.  Sorry to burst your dominate bubble.  You may have bought it, you may rule the family when an iron fist– but the minute someone else goes wandering through internet frontier, you are no longer in control. 
  4. Filter programs are there for protection for everyone.  They’re not the “answer to all web-worry prayers”, but they do add an extra layer of customizable help. 
  5. Filters are not punishment.  Filters are insurance.  Having one to protect against accidents and mishaps is SMART.
  6. Tip: Don’t make it a “us vs you” thing with kids.  Filters are there to protect the family.  Kids aren’t the only ones wearing a seat belt, right?   Mom and dad get strapped into the death-mobile too. 
  7. Let’s be honest… those filters are jut as valuable to web-exploring parents as they are kids.  Pop-ups, accidental clicks… you name it.  Dark alleys are around every shiny happy buildings, ya know?
  8. If you give kids solid, rational reasons as to WHY you have filters… they will understand.  If you DON’T give solid, rational reasons as to WHY– you’re just creating a exciting/naughty mystery. 
  9. Plus: Kids, tweens, teens will rationalize to THEMSELVES the reasons if you don’t share yours, and that never really ends well.  Why?  Because most kids do not develop that section of the brain until their late teens, early twenties.  Curiosity & cats, people… not a good combo.  Either you’ve created The Beast’s wing for curious Belle (Disney’s Beauty and the Beast), or they’ll immediately assume it’s because you don’t trust them– and that NEVER bodes well.
  10. Do not WORRY WORRY TIZZY TIZZY about it.  Be chill, but firm.  You want kids to hear you and accept it, not think about it or focus on it.  You wear a seatbelt because you don’t want to fly through the window or smash into the dashboard.  You have a comp filter because you don’t want a creep in your comp, talking to your family or stealing your private information (credit cards, yadda). 
  11. FIND THE BEST FILTER PROGRAM FOR YOU.  Personally, I believe- the easier the customization, the more customizable the customization of the filter program… the better.  

Okay– anyone have a great filter they want to recommend?  Do so at the beep.  Thanks you in advance.

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