With the benefits of the Internet come hazards. We can take a few precautions that will help us and our children to screen material.
Place your computer in an open-access area. Having the computer in sight reminds everyone in the family to be careful about the information they access. It also encourages you to sit down with your children and use the Internet together. If you do not know a lot about the computer or the Internet, ask your child to teach you. They might enjoy the invitation to share their knowledge with you.
Talk with your children about the Internet. In a family home evening lesson or as the need arises, periodically discuss with your children how the Internet can be used for good or evil. Help them to understand the importance of accessing only appropriate sites. It is important to resist not only pornography but also graphically violent material or anything else that is not wholesome. Realize too that in some cases hypertext links on an appropriate site could link to other sites with questionable material.
As you talk with your children about appropriate Internet use, encourage them to be good examples to their friends. If they or their friends are accessing questionable information, your children need to feel confident that they can talk to you. Establish a relationship founded upon open communication.
Bookmark child-friendly sites. Bookmarking is an easy-to-use feature on your computer that allows you to mark sites you want to visit often. Marking a selection of appropriate sites gives your children a good choice of places to visit when they use the Internet. Once you have accessed a site you would like to mark, click on the word Bookmarks at the top of your screen, then select Add Bookmark.
Teach your children to avoid giving out personal information. Establish some house rules about what personal information can and cannot be shared on the Internet. For instance, one rule might be, “I will not give out my street or e-mail addresses or credit card numbers without parental approval.” Discuss guidelines as a family.
Check your browser history routinely. Most Internet browsers maintain a history of Web sites visited recently. In some cases, you can press an arrow to the right of where you type an Internet address to see a drop-down list of recently visited sites. Also pressing CTRL-H while your cursor is in the address box will generally show the history.
Know the parents of your children’s friends. Your children may use a computer at their friends’ homes or other places. Talk with the parents of your children’s friends to find out if they have blocked inappropriate Internet sites. Knowing the parents helps you become familiar with their family’s entertainment standards.
Ask your Internet Service Provider (ISP) about filtering methods to block inappropriate information before it gets to your home. Does the provider filter content? How extensively? If you’re not satisfied with the filtering provided, you can purchase and install filtering software.
Share your learning with others. Talk to family and friends about what you and your family have discovered as you have searched the Internet. Ask them how they have avoided inappropriate Internet sites. What sites have proven to be especially beneficial?
The bottom line is—there’s no foolproof filtering technology. We need to have our own internal moral filters.—, president of the BYU Sixth Stake and information technology vice president at BYU