I overheard a distraught mother telling of her inquisitive young child and a Google search that went wrong right before her eyes. It took her by surprise, but she was thankful she was there. She was able to quickly intervene and later corrected the problem with the proper filters so it couldn’t happen again. Unfortunately, a parent can’t always be there. Some kids may innocently stumble upon inappropriate content while other kids seek it out intentionally.
When I think about unsuspecting young children that stumble upon heart-corrupting filth online and are affected in significant ways, it breaks my heart. Pulled into a vortex of secrecy and shame, many will experience lifelong struggles and addictions, but vigilant parents can make a difference.
My husband and I were faced with these same challenges of what to do just as computers were becoming commonplace in homes. We were on a frightful accelerated learning curve because we hadn’t been raised with computers, and we knew we needed to respond with purpose, understanding, and wisdom. We finally found answers. Nerve-wracking business!
Benjamin Barber (in his book Consumed) paints a vivid portrait of a global economy that targets children as consumers in a market where there are never enough shoppers and where the primary goal is no longer to manufacture goods but NEEDS.
A sizable portion of these marketers are peddling porn. They want people to need it and in their greed will not hesitate to target children.
Parents need to get savvy to first guard and then train their hearts while young. It really is a heart issue as much as a tech issue.
Proactive Steps For Parents
What is Google SafeSearch?
Google SafeSearch is one of the primary parental control options offered by Google to help parents police search results. SafeSearch helps to filter explicit content out of search results. It is mainly designed to target sexually explicit material (images and videos) and not violent content.
How to Enable Google SafeSearch
To turn on Google SafeSearch, visit http://www.google.com/preferences
1. From the “Search Settings” preferences page, place a check in the box with the label “Filter explicit results”.
2. To lock this setting so that your child can’t change it, click the “Lock SafeSearch” link.
If you are not already logged into your Google account, you will need to do so in order to lock SafeSearch to the “on” position.
Note: If you have more than one web browser on your system, you will need to perform the Lock SafeSearch process above for each of the browsers. Also, if you have more than one profile on your computer (i.e. your child has a separate user account to log into a shared computer) then you will need to lock down the browser from within the child’s profile.
Cookies must be enabled for this feature to work as well.
When you have successfully turned SafeSearch either on or off, you will receive a confirmation message in your browser.
If you want to check the status of SafeSearch to see if your child has somehow disabled it, look at the top of any search results page in Google, you should see a message near the top of the screen that says that SafeSearch is locked.
There are no guarantees that SafeSearch will block out all bad content, but it is at least better than not having it turned on. There is also nothing to prevent your child from using a different search engine to find bad content. Other search engines such as Yahoo, have their own SafeSearch-like features that you can enable as well. Check their support pages for information on their parental control offerings.
Enable SafeSearch on Mobile Devices
In addition to your computer, you will probably also want to enable SafeSearch on any mobile device that your child uses regularly, such as your smartphone, iPod touch, or tablet. For instructions on how to enable SafeSearch on a variety of mobile devices check out Google’s SafeSearch Mobile support page.
Extreme Measures For Today’s Tech Challenges
As we all know, kids are going to be kids and try to test their boundaries.
Andy O’Donnell of Lifewire says, “Our kids are more tech savvy than we can ever hope to be. We block a website, and they find a way around our blocking software. We put up a firewall; they go through it. What’s a parent to do?” 8 Ways to ‘Kid-proof’ your Internet Parental Controls
- Talk to Your Kids and set Boundaries and Expectations.
- Physically Lock up Your Router.
- Set Router-enforced Time Limits for Internet Access.
- Disable Wireless Remote Administration of Your Router.
- Scan for Unsecured Wireless Access Points Near Your Home.
- Enable the Parental Control Features on Your Child’s Game Systems and/or Mobile Devices.
- Add Youtube Parental Controls
- Put Their PC in an Open Area of the House That is Well Frequented.
- Enable Activity Logging on Your Router and PCs.
“I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” ~Psalm 16:8
Resources For Accountability
Covenant Eyes, our internet accountability of choice, has some VERY helpful and eye-opening FREE e-books to help parents navigate their way through these challenging times:
Protecting Your Family Online: A How-to Guide For Parents
Parenting the Internet Generation: 7 Potential Threats and 7 Habits for Internet Safety
Your Brain on Porn: 5 Ways Porn Warps Your Brain and 3 Biblical Ways to Renew It
Porn and Your Husband: A Recovery Guide for Wives
The Porn Circuit: The Science of Porn Use
Coming Clean: Overcoming Lust Through Biblical Accountability
Thanks for reading!