Protecting Kids On The Net For Free

Alison Young
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May 06, 2009
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With the growing popularity of social networking and Internet predators lurking about, today’s parents rate Internet dangers higher on their list of concerns than drugs. According to the Norton Online Living Family Survey conducted in March, 56 percent of parents are concerned their keiki may come across Internet dangers, including online predators and cyber bullies, compared with drug-related threats at 44 percent.

To help parents with the electronic threat, Symantec, makers of Norton security software, is offering OnlineFamily.Norton for free.

“Online safety should be a top priority for every parent, but it can be a daunting task if they don’t have the resources they need to get started. That’s why we’re offering OnlineFamily.Norton to families for free this year,” says Janice Chaffin, group president of Symantec’s Consumer Business Unit. “OnlineFamily.Norton is truly unique because it was designed to foster more communication between parents and kids, which is essential for creating rules together and keeping safe.”

The setup is painless, simple and quick. After you establish a parent account, you can create a profile for each child you want to monitor (up to 15). Select a picture icon and enter their birth year. Symantec then automatically sets up age-appropriate house rules based on the birth year. You then need to download and install an application called Safety Minder on each machine your keiki use (up to 10) and designate the Windows or Mac user account with the specific machine. If the children share a machine, you’ll have to assign separate user accounts.

OnlineFamily.Norton is a little different from the traditional parental control products that focus on just blocking and monitoring your kids’ online activities. It goes a step further to help you manage the gray areas of the Internet with education and communication. You’re encouraged to sit down with your keiki to create the House Rules for online activity. They’ll be aware that the software is active on their computer and view the House Rules they established with you at any time.

The program monitors activity on social networks such as Facebook and MySpace, when they login and how often. You can start a chat/conversation with your child if you see them misbehaving online. He/she also can send information to you in real-time via the OnlineFamily.Norton site or through e-mail about the intention when attempting to visit a blocked site.

In addition, OnlineFamily.Norton provides you with clear reports with activities listed in chronological order. The website reporting eliminates all the extra URLs (i.e. media-heavy ads) and shows thumb-nails of the visited websites. These reports can be accessed online anywhere, and you can choose to receive e-mail reports. In addition, you can monitor instant messaging chats, control web content (up to 40 topic categories), and track, report and prevent personal information that they may inadvertently try to send via instant messaging, social networking or on a website.

OnlineFamily.Norton is free until Jan. 1, 2010 at (no price commitment, but the service is valued at $60 for a one-year subscription). It’s compatible with either Windows XP/Vista or Mac OS X 10.5. Since it’ll be free for awhile, now is a good time to try it out so you can decide if this is a good solution for you and your keiki.

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