Home and FamilyIT Security

Internet and Your Children – teens are still kids

Although this BLOG is mainly about home renovation and house flipping, from time to time I have decided to write articles related to my long time experience in IT Security as as it relates to your home and family.

Today, I am going to write about Internet Safety and your children as I think it’s an important topic that doesn’t get enough attention.  I thought it important to write this article after reading the following news article regarding a teenager who was hospitalized for sever dehydration due to his gaming addiction – Ohio teen hospitalized.  Sadly, this isn’t the first time nor is it likely to be the last time this happens.

As parents, we sometimes think that teens can be responsible for themselves.  For some things they can, but when it comes to using judgement and common sense, they are not mature enough to be left to their own decisions and still need our guidance.  Some will blame the media, Hollywood, game creators, etc., but there have always been distractions and addictions will surface in many forms.  Too much of anything can be hazardous, so take some time and learn to recognize the signs of addiction.  It goes way beyond drugs.

Research shows that the human brain isn’t fully developed until age 25. (REF. MIT, Young Adult Development Project – http://hrweb.mit.edu/worklife/youngadult/brain.html).  This means that parents still need to pay carefull attention to their teenagers and beyond, especially if they deem to have an addiction prone personality.

There are many things parents can do to protect their children online and technology has made this easier than ever.  Most ISP such as cable and phone companies provide fairly good Internet routers integrated into their modems.  For me, Rogers provided a good Cisco router that gives me far more control and monitoring ability than my 3-year-old Netgear wireless router did.

Although your children will be upset when you implement these recommendations, it’s in their best interest regarding their future and will ultimately make your life a little easier as you will have one less distraction to worry about.  You can even use this as enticement for your kids to get their homework and chores done sooner once they realize you have awareness and control over their online activities.

Following is a partial list of things parents should do in order to monitor and restrict access:

  • Most firewalls today include the ability to set access times.  You can tell the router when to allow and disallow access to the Internet including days of the week.  You may wish to disable full access after 9pm weekdays and 10pm weekends.
  • You also have the ability to restrict access to sites either by category such as adult content, gaming, weapons, etc.  Some firewalls will also allow you to set date and time access by categories so that you can allow access to gaming sites only on weekends.
  • If you spend a little more money, you can also find a firewall that has anti-virus scanning built-in so that your younger children are less likely to get infected by malware or access a compromised WEB site.
  • Firewall logging is usually something only enabled at businesses to track what employees are doing, but home firewalls also have this feature and parents can use it to monitor where children are going on the Internet.  On some firewalls, these logs can be emailed to the parent either on a schedule or when a specific event occurs such as when someone visits Facebook.
  • Without going into too much detail on how DNS works, your computer uses it to figure out how to get to specific WEB sites.  Services such as OpenDNS provide WEB filtering solutions that can further restrict access to sites and categories and it is updated regularly.  Best of all, it’s free for personal users and includes instructions on how to use it at home.

There are so many ways we get distracted in life, and distractions are needed in order to relax and break away from the stresses of life, however we need to make sure our children need to understand limits and consequences.

If you need assistance or further information, feel free to contact the author.

About the author: Darren Lenick is the owner of Magen Services Holdings, LLC located in Orlando, FL.  Before becoming a house flipper, he worked for over 25 years in the IT Industry.

**This article was edited and reposted from an original article Darren wrote for his IT consulting business before going full time into house flipping.

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