July 3 2003
Despite all the high-technology filters available in the marketplace to block certain inappropriate sites from kids and teens surfing the Internet, parents may be the very best filters available.
"Parents should sit down and browse things with their kids. They should chat about what is inappropriate and why," said Carl Miller, Canton Public Library information technology specialist.
In the wake of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows government to require libraries to filter all computers connected to the Internet - or lose certain federal money and grants - Miller says the answer may be as simple as a parent learning what their kids are surfing, teaching them what is inappropriate and knowing when to pull the plug.
"I think that's the answer," Miller said. "It's almost like putting kids in front of the TV and walking away."
The Canton Public Library's method of providing filtered Internet access for children and teens, and unfiltered access for adult in a separate, restricted setting offers the best of both worlds.
That's particularly true in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week that upholds the Children's Internet Protection Act, signed into law by former President Bill Clinton in 2000.
The law requires public libraries that receive certain types of federal money to install filtering software to prevent access by minors to "inappropriate matter" on the Internet. In other words, the federal government says: Do what we think best or you won't get the money.
By Joanne Maliszewski
Carl Miller, Canton Public Library information technology specialist, offers some suggestions for parents who are interested in protecting their children from inappropriate material as they surf the Internet. His first suggestion, get a good filter software program. Listed below are some suggestions, with three Miller considers top notch: Cyber Patrol, Cybersitter, Net Nanny and Safe Surf. Bess, which is the filter used by the library, is a proxy server.
Miller also suggests installing a firewall. "Is it like a lead door. It is something that keeps the fire (junk) out. It can determine what is good and what isn't good." He suggests using Zone Alarm, which is a free version. Another brand is McAffee. But firewalls are not filters. "They protect against people on the Internet getting into your computer," Miller said.