Experts estimate that more than 93 percent of children in the United States have some access to the Internet, whether in school, in the library, or at home. All people – even adults – need to protect themselves from predators online, but our society has an obligation to do all we can to ensure the protection of children both in their offline and online lives.
The main challenge for parents is that the majority of children use the Internet alone. The use of a computer is usually a solitary activity, and without the proper restraints, it is possible that children will have access to the entire, unfiltered Internet.
Parental Control Software
· Some parents choose to restrict their children from participating in chat rooms, and parental control software can place a block on these types of Web sites. Chat rooms have a reputation for unmoderated discussions and a high potential for crime against children and even adults. Whether the reputation is fair or not, in a recent survey of American adults, chat rooms were the single most-mentioned element of the Internet that parents feared.
· Restricting the ability to use instant messaging (IM). IM is an extremely popular activity among children, comparable to the number of children who use text messages on cell phones. Parental control software can restrict children from using all instant messaging programs.
· Parental control software can utilize filters, which search for certain words on a Web site and block the site if the words are there. The parents can create the list of words that they wish to use as filters.
Education and Safety Tips
· Children should understand that credit card information should never be mentioned online except when shopping from approved sites and when (or if) they have their parents' permission.
· Pictures should never be sent to anyone, even people that are known to the children.
· Teach children to never physically meet someone they met online without getting permission from the parents or having the parents accompany them.
· Passwords used to access the Internet should be changed often.
· There should be time limits on Internet usage, just as many parents limit television viewing.
Interested in learning more? Why not take an online Internet Specialist course?
· Encourage children to make use of library computers devoted especially to children, which usually have a high level of security. It is important to note that not all library computers have such protections.
· Place a child's computer in a family room rather than the child's bedroom so that you can more easily monitor what they are viewing.
Essential and Recommended Software for the Internet
To use the Internet, several software packages are essential and others are strongly recommended to make full use of the Web. In this article, we will consider some of the most important types of software and a very brief overview of each package's functionality.
When the Internet first started to be used by the general public, there were very few browsers on the market. A browser called Netscape Navigator was a pioneer and one of the earliest browsers, developed by the company Netscape Communications Corp. At its height of popularity, the market share for the Netscape browser was over 90 percent, but by 2006 it had fallen to less than 1 percent.
In 1995, Microsoft introduced a browser of its own, the Internet Explorer. Starting in that year, it made the browser an integral part of its operating system, meaning that it was preinstalled on nearly every computer sold in the U.S. There was, much later, a legal battle concerning this browser that we will not cover here, but it is worth noting that Internet Explorer rapidly became the most popular Internet browser in the world and continues today to hold the highest market share.
Firefox and Opera are also two other popular browsers on the market today. They are both gaining in popularity, especially among younger users of the Internet. While they both have essentially the same functionality as Explorer, they have a different interface that some people prefer.
A browser, regardless of its manufacturer, is capable of surfing the Internet, subscribing to Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds, and downloading documents and files. When people visit a Web site and they wish to label it as a site they would visit again in the future, they can "bookmark" the site. This records the Internet address in a list of favorite sites, and that particular site can be selected easily from this list the next time the user wants to visit.
Microsoft Office is a suite of software products that is regarded as essential for most businesses and many students and individuals. There are alternatives to this suite, but the alternatives have such a small share of the market that they are not widely known to the general public. Most of the business and personal documents on the Internet require the following software to open and use.
The following is a partial list of programs in the suite:
· Microsoft Word. "Word," as it is commonly called, is word-processing software. It is considered standard for all businesses. Word-processing software enables a user to draft letters and other business communication and documents.
· Microsoft Excel. This is a spreadsheet program commonly used for financial analysis and some database functions. Analysts use it to calculate a very wide variety of financial documents, complete with graphs and charts.
· Microsoft Access. This is a database program. While it is not widely used for Internet purposes, it is one of the most popular database programs ever created.
· PowerPoint. The majority of presentations use this software for designing slides and other materials.
Acrobat and Acrobat Reader