Monday, July 21, 2014

Safeguarding your computer for the use of your children

There are lots of things to think about when setting up your computer for use by your children. There are multiple layers of protection you can use to protect your children for being exposed to material that is inappropriate. The first place to start is your operating system.

When using Windows, you will find parental controls under your control panel. This needs to be done from your account or an admin account. Give your child admin permission and turn parental control off until you have things set up and working correctly. Then you can change them to a standard user and turn on parental controls and go test their user name and interface.

Control panel > Parental controls

You will need to create a new user account for your child. For my daughter's account, she will not have a password, as I want there to be transparency so I can check her account when I want to.

After you have created a username for them, click on their icon to set their controls. You can toggle controls on and off and customize the controls.

Time limits
Allow and block specific programs

Time limits
These can be whatever you are comfortable with. Their accessible hours should ideally be set to start well after you have woken up for the day and end 1-2 hours before their bedtime. Obviously you don't want them trying to get on while you're asleep, but as I'm setting these for a 7 year old, I don't expect that to happen. Also, cutting off computer time well before bed helps them settle and relax, so they're not wound up before bed.

You can first allow them to play no games at all, or to play games. From there you can block based on content and rating everything from nudity to language to violence. It's completely customizable for you as the parent. As we're just starting out, I blocked them all.

Allow and block specific programs
We allowed the use of chrome, as we took many of these websites and turned them into desktop icons, which made them easily accessible for our daughter.

*This is part of setting up your child's interface and this part needs to be done while on their account*To make a desktop icon for a web page open the page in chrome, click the drop down menu on the top right (three horizontal bars) and click tools > create application shortcuts. From there you can choose a shortcut to desktop, start menu and pin to task bar. I just unchecked the last two and did only a desktop icon.**

If you choose not to allow all programs to be used, you will have to make sure specific programs are allowed to run, such as windows.exe, your internet browser, as well as things like flash for them to play games, etc. Because you, your computer and your needs for your child are different, I will not be able to troubleshoot for you if you find it all set up and cannot open something while under your child's parental control. I used a large amount of trial and error when I took this on myself.

The second layer of protection comes from your browser. The one I'm working with is Chrome. I suggest if you use Internet Explorer, that you move on at least to Firefox, though Chrome is kind of the accepted gold standard now. Chrome offers extensions that are usually free and easy to find.

I used two extensions on our browser to make things safe for our daughter. One was an ad blocker. Because you never know what kind of ad is going to pop up, and young kids are sometimes bad clickers and can accidentally click them. This makes the ads disappear completely. You can find the one I used here. We also used a web filter and an anti porn add-on which you can both find here.

I hope this has been useful to some of you out there using Chrome on Windows. For other operating systems or browsers, search your browser or operating system + parental control or filters.

As always, please remind your child of the safety rules of using the internet, and be sure to visit here for my list of kid friendly and fun websites. Please make sure you monitor your children's computer usage. Parent involvement + parental controls in place in multiple places = safe exploration for our kids.

For more information on this topic visit the following posts
Internet safety tips for kids
Top kid safe/oriented websites

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Friday, July 18, 2014


Growing up, I always wanted to be a soccer Mom. Because that's the nickname that was given to stay at home Moms who had kids in school who played sports. So I've got my hubby, my kids, minivan and this summer I have t-ball.

Here's what I've learned so far about t-ball as is relates to four year olds.

-If one of the kids does something good, you clap. If one of them does something that isn't good, you clap. Unless the thing that isn't good is hitting another kid with a bat. But anything else, even if they struck out, or ran to the wrong base, you clap. Because they're little kids, they're learning and they're trying. It's better than being stuck inside playing video games.

-When a kid waves at you or talk to them you respond in kind. Nicely.

-Teach your kid team work. They will want to do all the work themselves. Teach them that as long as someone on their team hits it/catches it/throws it, that's still reason to celebrate. Clap or give them a high five when they are done.

-Don't forget your camping chairs.

-Sometimes Dad will have to go give your little a reminder of how to behave. Sometimes Uncle and Papa will want to as well.

-You might have to remind your 4 yo that he is not yet a major league pitcher, and maybe he should take it down a notch and take it easy on his teammates. And his coach.

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