The answer is yes, to a point.

Before you start contemplating buying a big padlock for your computer, the real answer is far more complex.

As parents, naturally, we want to protect our children from the Big Bad Whatever – whether it be outside or online. And we know that parental control software has been offered forth as a holy grail, something that will, in theory, protect our children and prevent them from accessing sites we don’t want them to access – all while we’re away at work.

The problem is our children are using technology at younger and younger ages, creating a new generation of people to whom computers and technology is simply part of their lives, and their comfort levels and competence will far outstrip our own – even now, many of our teens know more about computers than we do. What this means is we have children on our hands who are more and more likely to have the knowledge and skills to circumvent parental control software, sometimes in ways that we will never realize they have done so.

Yet not having this software means we’re unleashing our children into a world of unlimited possibilities and discoveries, some of those unsavory or even dangerous, as well as putting them in the path of people we’d rather they never interact with.

While much of the media will push the idea that the internet is a stomping ground for pedophiles and other degenerates, the truth is the biggest risk to our kids will come in the form of cyberbullying and peer group pressure.

So if parental control software is not infallible , what do we do? Ban usage of smartphones, social networking and computer use in the house?

Apart from the fact this would not stop your child from using computers and smart phones, it is also a way to humiliate your children in front of their peers, which is something we should always try not to do.

The problem is not the technology – neither the devices nor the software. The problem is the way parents rely on the software too much.

While some parents get their kids to set software and computers up (not a smart move if you think about it), many others simply set the software up and then promptly forget about it, thinking the software is working and doing its job and therefore the parents doesn’t have to do anything more.

Software is not sentient. It does a great job in doing what it’s supposed to do, but a parent needs to be actively involved. For parental control software to truly work how we want it to, we, as parents, need to be involved.

This means checking up on online history daily, it means making sure you can spot check what your child is up to on the computer, this means joining the social networking site your child is part of.

Of course, being the sentient part of the parental control software, it pays to educate yourself and stay up to date on the latest fads among kids, as well as with the latest technology. And it also pays to educate your children, explain to them the importance of protecting their personal information, and being wary of anyone they don’t know what wants to know such information. And it’s just as important to explain to your children why you don’t want them to go to certain sites, or keep away from certain subjects online.

If you actively check up on what your kids are doing online, and on their phones, and you talk to your kids, then the parental control software is going to work at its optimum level.

To read more on the subject, go to PC Pro and PC Mag and read their in-depth article on the subject.

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