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How to set up parental controls

Kristin Chessman is a freelance writer, editor and mom from Southern California with a passion for travel, fashion, Disney, the beach, Italian food and all-things celebrity. Follow Kristin on Twitter @KristinChessman.

How to keep kids safe online

The Internet can be an amazing resource for information, education, social networking, and news. But for parents, the endless possibilities of the Internet also may be an endless nightmare. Though nothing beats attentive parental supervision, it’s not always possible to watch your child’s every move. Stay alert and keep your children safe by following these simple steps to setting up effective parental controls.

Mom setting up parental controlsStep 1: Select the right ISP for your family

Some ISPs (Internet service providers) offer filtering options, while others offer server based solutions that automatically block inappropriate content. In addition, some ISPs and online services let you opt out of the protected system with a password, which is a convenient, flexible option.

Step 2: Pick a parental control software

There are plenty of parental control options available, so how do you know which software is right for your family? Consider some of these:

  • Windows offers parental control features that require parents to create a separate user account for their kids. You can access and manage the parental controls from the control panel and the "User Accounts" folder. Use the controls to limit the amount of time your children spend on the computer and the applications they use.
  • Norton Internet Security's Norton Online Family is a free, online parental control option that works for both PCs and Macs. The program allows kids to send parents a message when they want to access a possibly inappropriate site.
  • For an annual fee of $39.99, Net Nanny is an easy to use parental control software that blocks peer-to-peer networks, allows remote management, and provides effective filtering.

Step 3: Set parental controls online

From your control panel, click on "Internet Options." Once you have the Internet properties box open, click on the "Content" tab, then click "Enable." From here, you can select the rating levels you'll allow users to see, set approved sites, and create a supervisor password.

Step 4: Download a kid friendly browser

Allow your child the freedom to browse safely by downloading a free web browser and filter like Kidzui, which offers kid friendly games, videos, and content. Kidzui hides the entire screen by default, which helps keep less savvy online surfers from wandering elsewhere.

Step 5: Have a chat

Once you've set up your parental controls and filters, sit down for a chat with your online newbie. Let them know that there are strangers online, too. Advise your child to never give out personal information including their name, address, phone number, age, or school. Also, set some family rules for online safety and use and be sure everyone in the family understands and agrees to them.

More ways to keep kids safe online

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