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MySpace: How Do I Block It?


Bill Wardell Author on SearchWarp!

 

Many parents fear websites like MySpace while their kids think the cyber neighborhood is way cooler than the brick and mortar homes next door.   

A parent’s first instincts may be to block websites like ; simply make sure their children never go near it.  Out of sight, out of mind, or so the theory goes. 

Technology allows parents several options to block or restrict Internet access.  There are pros and cons of each method which will be discussed in detail below.    

Your first decision is to decide how much control you want to exert over your child’s online experience.  If you wish, you can watch every single keystroke.  If they type the words “meet me” you will see each and every keyboard move that got them to that ominous message.  

On the other extreme, you can allow full access with no monitoring whatsoever.   Any place on the information super highway is within easy reach 24/7. 

Both of those extremes seem a little…well, EXTREME.   Here at Online Security authority, we believe a policy of moderation is best. 

Think about it.  Do you really want to completely block sites popular websites like MySpace or do you merely monitor their online behavior and make sure they haven’t met John Wayne Gacy?


In our experience, gentle and watchful monitoring is the preferred way to go. You know as well as I do, when any parent makes extreme restrictions on teenagers, the first thing they’ll do is find a way to rebel and undermine your authority.   Even the best of kids will; let’s be realistic.  They’ll find a way or sneak online… some how, some where, some time.   The possible outcome could be tragic.  The ironic thing is, research shows kids who are over protected online tend to score high in online risk-taking behavior and stranger naiveté when they finally are turned loose.  The Internet is a valuable communication tool that kids need to learn how to deal with effectively and those who are totally sheltered have a harder time, not an easier one.

The very best option for parents who want to protect their kids without smothering them, is by becoming an active participant in your child’s online experience.  Sit down with them and surf the net.  Talk candidly about what you see.  Most of it will be innocent.  Help them steer clear of what’s not.  If you express a genuine desire to find out what your child already likes and knows about the net, you might be relieved to find out how much of it is constructive. 

Here at Online Security Authority, we are always aware of online dangers, they are quite real.  At the same time, we can’t become so afraid of the Internet that we forget the incredibly supply of quality information.   Kids can learn tons online, experiencing vicarious thrills on everything from the moon landing to the Battle of Gettysburg.   So we want to sound the alarm, but we don’t want to cause undo panic. 

Try making your own profile on sites like MySpace or .   Discover what all the excitement is about!  Have fun!  Sit and show them how you surf and add friends.  If they see you as a parent wanting to make correct choices and be safe (adults need to be safe also), they will better understand that safety is just part of the process.  It’s like wearing a seatbelt.  It’s part of the routine and needs to be done by everyone.  You’re not picking on them!   

(Besides, if you’re kind of a tech dumbie like me, no doubt anyone younger than 15 can help speed your journey down the info super highway by being a bit more savvy about where to click and clack.) 

Teach them how to use common sense and show each of your children the proper way to enjoy the Internet. It’s a great teaching moment! Consider it a bonding experience. 

In addition to quality time spent exploring the internet together, we suggest you also manage your child’s computer time with Parental Control Software packages.  No parent can be there 24/7!  There are lots of options to choose from.  Here’s a rundown and the pros and cons of each. 

OPTION # 1:

GO AWAY!

At its technical base, the net runs using a variety of computer languages, also known as source code.  You can use specific source codes to prevent objectionable websites from ever coming up.  At your house, http://www.sex-kittens-r-us/ simply won’t be available online, regardless of what the rest of the world is watching.    

The source code blocks sites based on certain parameters.  You don’t want any site coming up that contains the word sex?  With some minor source code programming, you can keep them all out.  Keep in mind however that this would block ALL sites containing the word sex.  Even an encyclopedia explaining how the sex of cougars affects jungle habitat.   

Of course, as with all things computer, even your parameters have parameters if you know how to get there.  So depending on your software, this method can be made relatively precise, the operable word there being “relatively.” 

Although source code manipulation doesn’t take a tech genius, it helps if you feel comfortable with that sort of thing.   Much of it is automatic and idiot proof.  (I sure was glad to hear that!)  It’s simple enough, just follow the directions.

OPTION # 2:

WATCHFUL EYE

If you don’t want to block anything outright, you can watch what’s happening online with different types of monitoring software.    Some let you watch every keystroke so you can see everything your child types, including commands and backspaces. 

That can get a little tedious sorting through all that data, so some programs watch more major events, like what web sites are visited and how long the visit lasts.   Take your pick.

Details to look for when selecting monitoring software are precisely what it keeps track of.  Choose from: recording Emails, chats, (IM), web sites visited, programs run, all keystrokes typed, any files shared with another user, known as peer to peer file sharing, screen snapshots saved or transmitted

Plus, you can get more.  Offers of full Internet Access Blocking and Instant Notification Alerts of possible trouble can be requested.

Blocking, monitoring, and logging what’s the difference?

A blocking program has the ability to automatically block most inappropriate sites. Most blocking programs allow you to specify which sites you want blocked and which sites you want to allow, although many programs have largely automated that task for you. 

Depending on the software you get, you will have some flexibility.  All should be password protected to keep the kids out.

Most blockers work well, although, the downside is that some can be a bit too restrictive.

For instance, CYBERsitter (one of the most used) simply will not allow kids to upload pictures to their boards, which is a popular activity and usually harmless.  CYBERsitter makes no exceptions, so if you want your child to be able to post that picture of the school field trip for grandma to see, you’ll have to manually disable it, wait for them to finish, and then re-enable the software.

A monitoring program monitors web sites visited, applications used on the computer, like MSword or a game. Most monitoring programs also have a blocking function.

A logging program or key logger as they are called, simply logs all keystrokes made on your computer.   This can create a lot of data to wade through.  Most will also log incoming chat sessions and email. These programs, as far as I am concerned, are a must if you have kids chatting and using email. They will not stop bad things from happening, but they will log exactly what was said and when and once you get in the habit, it doesn’t take too much time. 

Please take an active roll with your children no matter what choice you make as far blocking or not blocking Internet access. Show your children you care about what they do online, as well as in school, sports, hobbies, and friends.

Each option covers different levels of security. If you follow the advice that is provided on each option, you are going to greatly improve and enjoy your experiences online and your children will too. Keep your children safe.

Is your child’s safety worth 5 minutes of your time? We have created a special OSA Agreement to help you open the lines of communication about why it’s a good idea to limit internet access to the inquiring little minds in your life.   Let us answer the questions your child will ask. 

For your Free Agreement, join thousands of other concerned parents and download it at: Cick on the OSA Agreement link at the top of the page.  We’ve made it easy for you.  Your child’s safety is a click away.

Bill Wardell Is the Senior Editor/Creator/Developer of Online Security Authority, the web’s premier site to help you deal with the vital issues of Internet Security.  Wardell authored “Don’t Take Candy From Strangers,” a helpful guide for parents and others wishing to help children have a positive online experience. 

Wardell is also active as an Authority Site Center Certified Coach, Speaker and Radio Show Host, Publisher, Researcher and National Radio Guest.  (Geez, this guy is busy!)

Cuomo forces ISP’s to block USENET groups/websites – sites Facebook and MySpace to protect children from sexual predators. “No one is saying you’re supposed to be the policemen on the Internet, but there has to be a paradigm where you cooperate with law enforcement, or if you have notice …

Comment on Stop The Bad Guys: Haute Secure 2.0 Released by Opera … – This means that on very large sites like MySpace that contain a combination of legitimate material along with more sinister profiles, pages will be blocked on a case by case basis instead of simply banning the entire MySpace site. …

3 Net Providers Will Block Sites With Child Sex – Cuomo said his latest investigation was built on agreements he and other state attorneys general had reached with the social networking sites Facebook and MySpace to protect children from sexual predators. …

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  1. 1 Comment(s)

  2. By DJ on Nov 21, 2007 | Reply

    Yeh, good luck with your control;) It’s not concern – it’s an intrusion, it’s an abuse, don’t you trust your child. All this stuff with “Oh, we just want to protect you” shows that you failed as a parent and it’s the way to find an excuse for being unable to bring up a child properly;) My homie’s parents installed a keylogger to watch him(they thougt it was something advanced) LOL we googled a bit and found this soft PrivacyKeyboard and now they are getting empty logs and thinking he’s a saint LOL, even give him more cash, so OK you are welcome, there will always be something like PrivacyKeyboard to disable monitoring;)

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