The internet is such a wonderful tool! But it very much has a down-side to it. All the garbage and filth that are suddenly in our home — that we would never let in if it somehow knocked at our door. So what do we do to protect ourselves and especially our children?
I have spent lots of time on this issue (though I do not claim to be a guru on the subject). And my best summary is that there is no perfect solution. Every program takes time to set up. Each will block too much at times and that can be frustrating — but when you are suddenly looking at inappropriate stuff, or if your child tells you about something that s/he saw, you suddenly realize it is worth the effort.
It has been a while (probably about a year) since I looked at options so I am going to review options that I have liked in the past and then ask for your input on what you like.
For your convenience, this post has affiliate links. Using an affiliate link costs you nothing. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
There are lots of layers to this issue. Whatever operating system you have on your computer has safety settings on it. Google Play has parental settings, YouTube has parental settings. Do you use them? Why or why not?
There are products like Net Nanny by Content Watch which filters what comes through to each device. And then keeps a record of where each device has been. We have used Net Nanny for several years and feel like it is worth the money — even though there are some headaches with it. The reason we chose Net Nanny is because it is actually installed on each device so regardless of where the device is, content is being filtered. There have been some really strange things blocked — like my favorite genealogy site — but those can be cleared up by creating a white list, which is a list of sites (for each person) that are always OK to visit.
Content Watch / Net Nanny also has options for social media monitoring. This is especially helpful for early teens when kids just don’t seem to understand that you should not friend everyone that requests to be a friend with you. Their social media monitoring will let you know if someone is requesting to be your child’s friend who is outside of the age range that you established. For example, in my opinion, when my child is 13, no one older than 18 needs to be friends with him/her except for relatives or people I know personally. So I like having Net Nanny flag the older people.
I have friends who have had bad experiences where “unsavory” individuals have gotten to be “friends” with a bunch of young girls just because one accepted the friend request and then he requested to be friends with all the other young girls. The other young girls accepted because he was a friend of a friend of theirs… Just a situation that every parent wants to avoid!
There are apps that can be put on phones that will tell you every single thing that happens on the phone. To be honest, if I had serious questions about what my child was doing, I might install one of these. But I hope I can avoid something like that. I have a friend who used one with her then teenage daughter. It was very informative and helpful for understanding what was going on with that daughter. Just letting you know those options are there.
I have heard good things about Circle with Disney. Last time I was looking at options, Circle Go was not available for Android devices so I ruled out this option. Cost also made me hesitate. I would love to hear from those of you have used Circle. How effective is it at blocking the things you want blocked? Do you use Circle Go so that you have filtering even when you are not using your own wi-fi? What are the pros and cons?
Another program that I have heard is good is Norton Family Premier by Symantec. Anyone used that?
The price on Norton is about $50 per year where as Circle is $99 for the device plus Circle Go is $10/month for up to 10 devices. So that gets pretty pricey — though it is great that buying the Circle device is a one-time purchase expense. In my opinion, if you have teens, you have to have something that will filter regardless of where they are — they roam a lot and it is too easy for them to access junk when they are away from home.
If you are interested in trying NetNanny and getting 25% off, click here. You can install the software and if you don’t like it, you can contact customer support and request a refund of your money. I have done that when we decreased down the number of devices that needed to be covered. They were not super fast to work with, but they did not give me a hard time about refunding money to me.
Please leave comments letting me know what you use and why you like it and don’t like it. I have yet to find any program / system that everyone likes.
Thanks for your input. Wishing you peace, harmony, and hope all day long!