Filtering for Privacy
Before the internet was introduced, privacy was only about having no one else intrude into our personal space. Today, privacy is no longer just physical privacy but also personal information privacy.
Just because your children are physically in front of a computer screen does not eliminate the risks of having their personal privacy being intruded by strangers. Sometimes, websites may install spyware into your computers and track every piece of information about your children without anyone realising it.
You need to adopt measures in order to safeguard their online privacy. If they are too young to fend for themselves, one of the best options is to restrict their access to certain websites by filtering the internet content. This will minimise the risk of them unknowingly exposing themselves to questionable online materials which may compromise their privacy. Here are ways on how you can do the filtering:
1. Adjust Privacy Settings of Web Browser
Adjust the privacy settings of your web browsers to prevent cookies from being installed onto your computers when your children visit websites.
While there are some good cookies like those that remember your children’ login details so they do not have to key them in repeatedly, there are also the bad cookies that track all of their online movement, mine the data and sell them to companies.
Therefore, make sure to check your web browsers and sort out which are the websites you want to allow to track your children’s online activities and which are those that you want to block. Most web browsers also have a ‘Do Not Track’ feature that allows you to turn on to disable tracking.
2. Subscribe to Family Access Network Service
If you are not exactly the most tech-savvy person, one of the easiest ways to protect your children’s privacy is to subscribe to a Family Access Network (FAN) service through your Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
For a small monthly fee and without having to go through the hassle of installing any software, FAN will automatically filter out any undesirable websites including pornographic websites and those that advocate violence, hate and terrorism.
Do note that the filtering is done on your ISP’s server. Unfortunately, this means only a small portion of undesirable materials is filtered out and you will not be able to customise the list of websites to allow and block according to your own preferences.
3. Use Parental Control Software
Consider using parental control software like CyberPatrol, Net Nanny and CYBERsitter.
Although they are more costly and probably more cumbersome to deal with compared to the FAN service, they are customisable and more effective. Here are some advantages that the Advisory Council on the Impact of New Media on Society 1 have identified:
- You can keep a log of the websites that your children have visited. This will allow you to easily monitor their online activities.
- Most software gives you the flexibility to set the time when the internet can be accessed by your children.
- You can configure the software to automatically block internet access to your children if undesirable websites are accessed too many times.
- Filters can be turned off for the adults at home to give them full internet access.
4. Restrict Sharing of Personal Information
Before your children share any personal information online, make sure they keep you informed and you are involved in the process. Especially if they are registering for something or are users of social networking sites, get them to keep the amount of information shared to the minimum.
There are privacy settings on these sites so make full use of them and help your children to make the relevant adjustments to their profiles. Should they upload any other personal details like photos and status updates, limit the availability of the information to only a restricted group of people as well.
If you can, rather than adopting only one of the four measures, use them in conjunction to derive maximum benefits. It is time-consuming and takes money and effort to help your children to filter out internet content, but they are good investments that can go a long way in protecting your children’s online privacy and ultimately, their offline privacy as well.
- Advisory Council on the Impact of New Media on Society (AIMS). (2008, December). Engaging New Media, Challenging Old Assumptions