I think I'm no different than most parents when I say I wish my children would always make the right decisions. But they don't, and trying to stay two steps ahead of them at all times drives me crazy. With my youngest daughter getting to *that age*, I'm constantly asking her to change something on her Facebook page, or remove things, or whatever. I know, some parents say they would never allow their 12 year old to go on Facebook, but there are some battles that I know can't be won. If they don't do it here, they will do it somewhere else and at least this way I can keep tabs on what they are up to. Personally, I would rather attach a webcam to their head that they can't remove, but that isn't exactly practical so I do what I can to keep up with them.
Of course, an online presence presents a whole new set of issue that our parents didn't have to deal with. Cyber-bullying and pornography are the two that immediately come to mind. Making sure that I am "friends" with my kids on Facebook allow me to keep tabs on the first one, but the second one isn't quite that easy.
Last week I had some downtime at work and figured I would look into things. I did quite a bit of looking around and researching web content filters. There are a LOT of products out there that will help keep our kids from seeing inappropriate content, but I didn't want to spend any money (I just moved and really don't have it to spend if I don't have to!). Initially I considered putting a separate box with the filter on it between their computers and the Internet, forcing all their traffic to go through that. That would be the most secure and easiest to maintain since I would only have a single installation to configure. But that would require another computer to be on all the time, and although I have plenty of computers sitting around and am certainly tech-savvy enough to pull it off, I started to think about what if they took their laptop to somebody elses house? All my filtering plans would be worthless. (Of course, they could always use other peoples computers to bypass the filtering, but I can't stop that no matter what...)
Eventually what I settled on was K9 Web Protection... (http://www1.k9webprotection.com/) - the price is right (it's free!), and it does what I need it to. Not to mention, you can just install it and it works right out of the box. Of course if you want, it's highly configurable and you can set it to block all sorts of things. Another nice thing about it is that it logs all attempts to access anything that's blocked, so you can see what your child is up to. I don't ever want this blog to be in the business of product placement, but this is one utility I highly recommend!