The Official Net Nanny Blog

Setting Boundaries for Tech Addicted Kids (and Parents)

Like most parents, I struggle with setting boundaries with technology that my family will respect. Before setting boundaries, though, it’s important to understand why our kids are on their devices so much. Unfortunately, the truth is that we, as parents, are partly responsible

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I recently read a great article on www.internetprovider.net about ways to protect your kids on Facebook. If you would like to read the article, you can find it here. I won't spend too much time discussing the ten points they go through, but I would like to focus on point number 6: “Invest in Parental Control software that monitors your child's internet activity.

Only 23.9% of parental control programs actually monitor Social Networking activity

I recently read a great article on www.internetprovider.net about ways to protect your kids on Facebook. If you would like to read the article, you can find it here.

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As a lad, I had several opportunities to eat SPAM, most of which occurred on scout camps. I know, interesting how taking away your child's cell phone in today's world is child abuse and yet feeding children SPAM back in the day was not.

Because my experience with cooking SPAM is limited to dumping SPAM into a dutch oven with cream of mushroom soup and some green beans, I don't think I'm one to give any good advice on cooking with SPAM. If you did actually come to this blogpost hoping I'd make you a SPAM cooking connoisseur then I don't want you to go away un-fulfilled, so HERE's a link to some great SPAM recipes.

For those of you who'd like to figure out how you can decrease offers for discount Viagra and offers to claim your unknown Uncle Harry's jagnormous inheritance, read on. I'll attempt to teach you how to overcome that pesky spam problem that has overtaken your email box.

First off, we need to think like a spammer. Read this sentence three times: "I want to make a bunch of money for doing the least amount of work possible." If we can get a few million email addresses to send spam to, eventually we'll get some poor sap to click our link and give us their credit card number or bank account/SSN. Here are several cheap/easy ways we can harvest email addresses to send spam to:

Learn To Cook With SPAM

As a lad, I had several opportunities to eat SPAM, most of which occurred on scout camps.

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If you're alive and have children, you've probably at least been asked about an iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) or Android device. After all, they're very neat and can do lots of fun things. But if you're visiting the Net Nanny website, you're also concerned that some of the things those devices can do are not so good.

We've announced a new release of our mobile tools that will bring our incredible dynamic filtering technology to these top of the line mobile devices, including Android and iOS. With those announcements, some customers have written in to make sure we're going to get it right. One customer wrote in our forums:

"I have found that several miscellaneous apps have an 'embedded browser' that can be accessed through advertisements, FAQ, etc. These browsers essentially allow you to get around any filtering... Are your developers aware of this and will the Net Nanny Iphone app address this issue?"

This issue has been at the forefront of our development conversations, so don't think we're not aware of it. That said, there is sadly not a lot we can do about it. Apple has always taken the approach that when they sell you a product, it is a work of art that should be beautiful and sufficient as-is for their users to use. iOS devices are no different. Because of that, as well as insistence from cell phone carriers no doubt, iOS is pretty restrictive in terms of what you're allowed to do as an app programmer.

Within iOS, Apple lets apps do certain things. One thing they do not let apps do is watch other apps and intercept internet traffic to other apps. Their reasons for doing this are more than just keeping apps under their control. Imagine you had an app from your bank on your phone and a neat Sudoku app you downloaded yesterday was allowed to peek into the bank app and send your account information to someone in another country? So, we do need to limit what apps can do. Unfortunately, to Apple, all apps are created equal, so Net Nanny will have the same restrictions as any other app. So our iOS product will be the Net Nanny browser for iOS. Just as Apple doesn't let us watch what other apps are doing, we can't even watch what the built-in Mobile Safari in iOS is doing. So the only thing Apple will let us do is make our own web browser that will have filtering built in.

I know that will disappoint many people, including us- we hate that it's not the ideal solution, but that's all we can do for iOS devices. Unless Apple changes their app policies just for Net Nanny. Which I doubt.

Basically, you paid for it, but Apple still makes the rules there and we have to follow those rules just like everyone else. Sadly, security and privacy concerns on the device mean that it's more difficult to keep the device safe from objectionable content.

Apple does provide a simple way to lock down iOS devices under Settings > General > Restrictions. Details are at http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4213 (Also be sure to lock down iTunes- http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1904)

Those restrictions together with our Net Nanny browser will do a lot to protect individuals while online on their iOS devices.

For Android devices there are similar problems but the carriers have more say in the Android devices that connect to their network. We have developed a new app for Android (not released yet!) that is capable of filtering the whole device and we're talking with manufacturers and carriers to try to get lower level access and provide real filtering there. Keep your fingers crossed!

Don't worry. We're not satisfied and we will keep pushing to do everything we possibly can to protect your devices.

Playing By the Rules on iOS

If you're alive and have children, you've probably at least been asked about an iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) or Android device.

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Yesterday one of our customers asked in our forum how to turn off Amazon.com's Look Inside! feature. If you aren't aware, Look Inside let's you page through a certain number of pages from books online- it's a clever and nicely implemented way to let customers browse and flip through a book to see if it's what they want. I've always loved that feature.

So it caught me off-guard when our customer, M, asked how to turn it off. He rightly points out that the previews in Look Inside are just images, not text, so Net Nanny doesn't 'see' anything bad. But if it's a bad book it may be granting previews of bad content we don't want in our homes.

Far from blaming Amazon, I would say this is just a case of a company wanting to do something really cool and not even thinking of the parental controls angle. It happens a lot, unfortunately. I'm going to write to Amazon and ask if they're attempting any kind of protection there or not and at least bring it to their attention.

As parents, we need to be deeply and actively committed to protecting our families if we're going to catch subtle things like this.

If you want to disable Look Inside, just disable the domain sitb-images.amazon.com in the Blocked Web Sites tab of Net Nanny for Mac. In Windows®, add a Web Exception for that domain. Even though the Look Inside interface will come up normally, all the preview images will be blocked.

Blocking Amazon's Look Inside Feature

Yesterday one of our customers asked in our forum how to turn off Amazon.com's Look Inside! feature.

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Happy Safer Internet Day! Yes, that's right, although you may not have heard about it- it is today. Although pushed by a European Union funded group, it's always good to think about being safer online.

It came to my attention because of some resources put out by Yahoo spotlighting how parents are doing at protecting their children and some new resources Yahoo has made available regarding Internet safety over at http://safely.yahoo.com. I was really happy to see the great content they have there and recommend you take advantage of it. There's some great info there. I especially like the family pledge worksheet, which outlines an agreement that parents and their children agree to follow. Communication about these topics is vital. If all you do is build a wall, when your kids are outside the wall, they'll have no clue what they should do.

Unfortunately, a rather large elephant in the room seems to have been left out of the festivities. There is appropriate emphasis on cyber-bullying, identity theft, smartphone safety, and online privacy. These are important. Here and there in the Safer Internet Day and Yahoo! Safely content are references to "inappropriate content". It appears that the term pornography is no longer politically correct. Maybe it's just too harsh and writers and editors are opting for inappropriate content because it sounds milder.

The fact is that "inappropriate content" is everywhere, and often isn't thought of as inappropriate. TV shows and movies talk about pornography as a funny joke that adults elbow each other and snicker about. It's just something that's portrayed as a part of growing up. While dealing with and avoiding pornography is a necessary life skill, there is no point at which pornography becomes appropriate.

As parents we need to decide for our families what's appropriate for us. If we don't, others will. Media companies, school teachers, and our kids' friends will set the bar wherever they want to. Maybe you're unsure if you have the right to decide what should be classified as pornography. Don't be unsure. If you don't decide, others will decide for you. Yes, what you decide is inappropriate in your family may offend someone out there. Maybe your kids are going to whine or stare at you in horror. It's okay. Setting boundaries is part of parenting. When I'm watching TV or movies to this day, I know exactly what my mom would say about anything that comes onto the screen. Because as a child and something would come on that was inappropriate she would tell us so, and explain why. And often it would get turned off. You have that power.

Happy Safer Internet Day. Along with all those other important online safety ideas, don't forget about pornography. Set boundaries. Talk to your kids. Decide what's inappropriate for your family and don't let anyone decide for you.

What Makes the Internet Unsafe?

Happy Safer Internet Day! Yes, that's right, although you may not have heard about it- it is today.

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Not too long ago, my wife handed me one of my daughters' homework assignments. She had been asked to note some people in her family that help others in their work and she had listed me:

"My dad keeps bad websites from spreading all around the world!"

That made me really happy for two reasons.

First, I love what we do here at ContentWatch: helping families like mine everywhere to take advantage of the modern marvel of the Internet but to do so in a safe way. We build peace of mind.

Second, I know that my daughter knows there are bad websites. She's only six right now but she already knows. I suspect (and hope, I guess) that she doesn't understand how a website can be bad.

Years ago, a friend of mine told me about his dad, who was a special forces commando of some kind without his children ever knowing it. He had a civilian cover job and the military sent him to places all over the world as needed. After retirement and revealing his secret to his children, he answered the door of his home one night to find his daughter's ex-boyfriend, drunk on his porch with a friend. The ex-boyfriend insisted on seeing his daughter. This father told them to move along before they got hurt. They did not move along and decided to push him around. The fight was very brief.

Now I'm not a violent person, but I want to protect my family too. Every good dad wants to protect his family. And it can be pretty frustrating when bad websites slip into your home. There's no confrontation on your porch. No way to tell them to leave your family alone.

We as parents must be deeply and actively involved with our children if we want to protect them. Buying stuff (even Net Nanny!) is not enough. They're just tools. If someone is determined to get to those bad websites, there are ways around anything. Our kids need to understand what that Net Nanny icon on our computer means and cooperate with it. They need to understand that there are bad websites (and lots of other bad stuff) out there and if all protections fail, what to do then. And we need to stay vigilant to make sure we have done all we can.

Stopping Bad Websites

Not too long ago, my wife handed me one of my daughters' homework assignments. She had been asked to note some people in her family that help others in their...

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Donna Rice Hughes of Enough is Enough (enough.org) recently commented on Facebook's new geolocation service.

"In a news conference yesterday, Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook's new geolocation service, "Facebook Places".  This feature allows Facebook users to share where they are and with whom they are with in real-time from the user's mobile device.  As we have seen with any new technology or application available, these features can be used for good or for harm.
 

Facebook's New "Places" option

Donna Rice Hughes of Enough is Enough (enough.org) recently commented on Facebook's new geolocation service."In a news conference yesterday, Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook's new geolocation service, "Facebook Places".

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In Candeo's full recovery training program, our Students learn about the brain science behind human sexual process. To describe what happens in the brain during sexual activity, we use the illustration of a “funnel which looks like an hour glass. Whenever we become sexual, the brain travels as it were into the funnel where it immediately begins narrowing its focus with the aid of powerful neuro-chemicals. The brain continues down into the funnel, until it reaches the very narrowest part which is sexual climax. Following that crescendo, the brain emerges from the narrow part of the funnel and returns to its normal, wide perspective. 

In the Candeo training, Students learn about The Funnel and The Narrowing Process, both from the perspective of a healthy sexual relationship and the experience of pornographic process. Thus there is a “healthy sexuality funnel and a “pornography funnel. While the neuro-chemical and brain processes are very similar in both of these funnels, the results when one emerges from each funnel is very different. 

In addition to the mentally/emotionally healthy vs. unhealthy aspects of each funnel, there is another important aspect to the Tale of the Two Funnels—the male and female brains are structured differently, causing men and women to approach and respond differently in the funnel.

As you read through this article, take time to think of experiences in your own relationship when you have seen these differences manifested. Also pay attention to how you believe pornographers exploit men and women according to their unique brain characteristics.
Men and Women Are Different    

Although what follows has been meticulously gathered from the research and writings of leading scientists and psychologists, it is by no means a hard and fast rule or description of every man and every woman. Each person is different and unique. 

However, the facts clearly bear out that for nearly all men and women there are significant differences between the male and female brain. This means that, in most cases, men and women do not behave, feel, think or respond in the same ways, either on the inside or in their outside behavior. Recently, while teaching a marital relations workshop, I asked the audience, “By a show of hands, how many would agree that men and women don't always think alike? Every hand immediately shot up, at which, one woman blurted out, “Do they ever

Women are “Web-Thinkers and
Men are “Step-Thinkers
 

Helen Fisher in her book The First Sex, refers to women as using “web thinking, as opposed to the “step thinking men are usually engaged in. Women place an emphasis on the “whole, while males focus primarily on the “parts of the whole. It's female multi-tasking vs. male's do-one-thing-at-a-time mentality. 
 

One example of this single tasking vs. multi-tasking difference is in communication. Nothing amazes me more than watching a group of women talk to each other—all at once! From the male brain perspective this is incomprehensible. When men talk, they take turns: “Go ahead, and when you're done let me know so I can talk. Once, after observing my wife and her friends engage in this female phenomenon, I tested her: “I know you couldn't hear everything that was being said—you were all faking it. To my dismay, she was able to recount details of the entire conversation for me! Searching for a simple comparison that everyone can relate to, some scientists refer to the narrowing/single-tasking male brain as a “meat cleaver, as opposed to the holistic/multi-tasking female brain as more like a “Swiss Army Knife, with its many attachments. I like to think of women as having a giant satellite dish on their heads, spinning around, taking everything in.

These differences center around how men and women use the right and left hemispheres of their brains. The male brain is narrow and highly specialized; the right side of the brain is used for visual activities, the left for verbal. Women, in contrast, employ both sides of their brains for verbal and visual activities.

Some scientists have suggested that because both visual capability and emotions are bundled together exclusively in the right hemisphere of the male brain, the key perceptual sense in the male is vision. Dr. Judith Reisman has noted that this male dependence on the right hemisphere causes men to respond to visual stimuli with more vigor and speed than females.2 This partly explains why the primary market for pornographic images has been male.

Females, on average, use more of their brain space for specific activities, while men use far less. And women employ a greater spectrum of the brain, while men rely more on a specific area of either hemisphere. This results in men naturally focusing narrowly on an issue, while women more naturally see the big picture. Men are able to focus on an issue and be less distracted by anything superfluous going on around them. Ever see a man glued to the TV or the sports page, seemingly oblivious to the chaos around him?3 

Men tend to be more analytical, extracting the essential from the circumstantial detail: “Just the facts, ma'am, just the facts. Women, in contrast, take in the larger picture. They're concerned with context, just as men are forever trying to ignore it for the sake of something they can abstract from it. It's a standoff between brain hemisphere-specific focus vs. wide, hemisphere-diffused focus.4
    
The Corpus Callosum

One body of evidence explains male/female brain differences by examining the corpus callosum, the bundle of some two hundred million fibers that link the left and right sides of the brain. These nerve fibers allow for the interchange of information between the brain's two halves. In the female brain, the corpus callosum is different than in that of the male. In blind tests on fourteen brains obtained after autopsy, scientists found that in women an important area of the corpus callosum was thicker and more bulbous than in men. Overall, this key message-exchange center was bigger (in relation to overall brain weight) in women.5 (Some studies indicate that the corpus callosum may be up to three times larger by weight and density in the female brain than in the male.6)
The hemispheres of a woman's brain share a larger number of connections, suggesting a greater exchange of information between the two sides. Also, more total brain space has been reserved for everyday activities, so that the information she is receiving from the outside world is processed by a much larger portion of her brain.7

In general, women are better at recognizing the emotional nuances in voice, gesture and facial expression, and at interpreting the whole range of sensory information. They can deduce more from such information because they have a greater capacity than men to integrate and cross-relate verbal and visual information, giving credence to woman's intuition or the sixth sense some claim women own.8

Men keep their emotions in check by relying on their right-brain thinking, while their power to express feelings in speech resides in the left hemisphere. Because the two halves of their brains are connected by a smaller number of fibers than those of women, the flow of information between one side of the brain and the other is more restricted.9 Since information is flowing less easily to the verbal, left side of his brain, it is often more difficult for a man to express his emotions. 

Men Concentrate More Narrowly,
While Women See the Big Picture

Studies show that men concentrate more intently on a narrower range of items; they are capable of ignoring distractions because, with a specific part of their brain strictly focused on the task at hand, they are deaf and blind to distractions around them.10

Contrarily, psychologists report that women more regularly think contextually; they take a more “holistic view of the issue at hand. That is, they integrate more details of the world around them, details ranging from the nuances of body posture to the positioning of objects in the room.11

Men are good at compartmentalizing their attention. Just ask a man reading the newspaper a simple question; often he doesn't even consciously hear you. When he does, he appears to rouse himself as if returning from a different planet. Men tend to tune out extraneous stimuli. Their thinking process is, on average, more channeled.12

Women, though, are prone to the opposite. “Whatever they do, even just wiggling their thumbs, women activate more neurons in the brain, reports neuropsychiatrist Mark George of the Medical University of South Carolina. “When a male puts his mind to work, brain scans show neurons turning on in highly specific areas. When females set their minds on similar tasks, so many brain cells light up that their bright-colored brain scans glow like Las Vegas at night.13

Testosterone vs. Estrogen—
Another Key Male/Female Difference

Testosterone, the aggression and dominance hormone, is also the sex hormone, both in men and women. It is the key sexual activator for both sexes.14 Women who lose their ovaries (which produce female hormones) still retain their full capacity for sexual arousal. At menopause, when the ovaries shut down the production of female hormones, women do not lose their appetite for sex, rather it is fueled by testosterone instead. But if they lose the adrenal gland, which produces and controls the flow of testosterone, their libido collapses. It can, however, be restored by testosterone injections.

There are two important differences, however, in how testosterone affects men vs. women. First, a man's brain is better attuned to the effects of testosterone upon it, quite simply because it has been so made through the impact of testosterone in the womb. Secondly, after puberty, a man has 20 times more of the substance in his body than does a woman.15    

Testosterone has been shown to have a significant effect on the male brain, a clinical fact that has been well documented. It is a hormone which seems to make the male brain less liable to fatigue, more single-minded.
By nature, as we have seen, the male brain can more narrowly focus on a specific issue, subject or goal, as well as latch on to that focus more swiftly than the female brain. Testosterone takes the already narrowing male brain and magnifies the narrowing tendency and capacity even further!16
Testosterone also gives the male brain the ability to focus intensely and narrowly on specific issues and interests for long periods of time without tiring. 17
By contrast, we have discussed how the female brain is more diffused and operates on a wide rather than a narrow scale. Just as testosterone further narrows an already narrow male brain, estrogen, the primary female hormone, actually increases the female brain's diffusing or broadening capability.
In her book The First Sex, Helen Fisher writes: “Estrogen builds more dendrite projections or spines on each nerve cell, thereby increasing the number of connecting links between nerve cells. Hence, estrogen facilitates the flow of information among neurons.18

The female brain already owns more communication channels between the two hemispheres than does the male brain. With the addition of estrogen in the female brain, these connections are even more substantial.
In a word, testosterone takes an already narrowing male brain and narrows it even further. Estrogen further diffuses an already expanded female brain. 
 

Two Magnificent Brains Become One 

It is clear that man and woman were meant to be together—not in spite of our differences, but because of them. Ponder for a moment, the incredible strengths of these two wonderful brains. One has the natural, built-in structural and chemical makeup that enables it to narrow tirelessly on a single goal with determination and total focus until it is accomplished, only to then fixate on the next objective and the next. The other possesses the wondrous ability to constantly see the big picture; to take in, consider and assess all that is going on around it; to perform various tasks at once based on this wide perspective. 
Now imagine what happens when these two brains, which seem to be at polar opposites, are suddenly combined together in a wondrous partnership—WOW! What an awesome and unbeatable combination—different, but completely compatible, if we are willing to work at it. 

My wife and I have fun with our “brain differences. Sometimes when I am so narrowed and fixated on a problem and one perceived solution that I can't see any other options, I'll call out to her, “Honey, can I plug into that amazing female brain of yours so I can get a bigger perspective on this? I envision stretching a computer cable from the back of my head and plugging it into hers, and suddenly I can see the world through her brain! Actually, I describe my dilemma to her and she gives me feedback. Without a doubt I can tell you that when it comes to our partnership, two brains are infinitely better than one.     

I hope you can use this understanding of male and female brain differences for two purposes:

1.  How do pornographers exploit male and female brain tendencies in the ways they design and market their wares to each? Why are men generally more susceptible to porn addiction? How can you harness and direct the unique abilities and strengths of your male or female brain to break out of destructive habits and achieve your greatest desires in life?  2.  Knowing the differences, how can you bring the best of both brains together for a happy, harmonious, successful relationship? 

 

For More Information:

If you want to learn more about the Brain Science of Porn Addiction, and how to protect your marriage and family from this addiction, get Mark Kastleman's acclaimed book, “The Drug of the New Millennium. You can purchase it online at Amazon.com.
If you or someone you love is trapped in pornography use, please visit www.candeocan.com to learn how to break free. 

 

Chapter Notes
1. Helen Fisher, The First Sex, Random House, 1999, p. 8 
2. Dr. Judith Reisman, Soft Porn Plays Hardball, Huntington House Publishers, Lafayette, Louisiana, 1991, p. 21
3. Anne Moir & David Jessel, Brain Sex, Ibid.
4. Ibid., p. 170
5. Anne Moir & David Jessel, Brain Sex, Ibid., p. 47
6. From the teachings of Dr. Page Bailey, The Page Bailey Institute International, Behaviorally related programs and tutorial services, Portland,OR offices: 503-775-7668
7. Anne Moir & David Jessel, Brain Sex, Ibid., p. 47, and HelenFisher, The First Sex, Ibid., p. 15
8. Ibid., (Brain Sex) p. 48 
9. Ibid.
10. Ibid., p. 170
11. Helen Fisher, The First Sex, Ibid., p. 5
12. Ibid.
13. Diane Hales, Just Like a Woman, Bantam Books, 1999, p. 244
14. Anne Moir & David Jessel, Brain Sex:, Ibid., p. 103
15. Ibid.
16. Anne Moir & David Jessel, Brain Sex, Ibid., p. 96
17. Ibid., p. 95
18. Helen Fisher, The First Sex, Ibid., p. 62

Pornography & Sexuality—Exploring the Male & Female Brains

1. How do pornographers exploit male and female brain tendencies in the ways they design and market their wares to each? Why are men generally more susceptible to porn addiction?...

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Today is “Safer Internet Day.  People from around the globe are gathering together to discuss and promote a safer online experience for you and your family.  From your desktop and laptop to your smart phone and iTouch, it's important to ensure your kids are protected and empowered to make responsible decisions, regardless of technology they use. 

This year's focus is on “Think B4 U post.  With Net Nanny you can have peace of mind and view all the pictures, friends, videos, and comments your kids post on sites like Facebook and Beebo.  However, we feel that it's more important to be proactive, empower your kids, and help them make good decisions for themselves. Express how sharing an inappropriate message, video or picture can end with severe consequences for everyone involved.

To help celebrate Safer Internet Day, review Net Nanny's Safety Tips with your kids: www.netnanny.com/learn_center/safety_tips 

Safer Internet Day

Today is “Safer Internet Day. People from around the globe are gathering together to discuss and promote a safer online experience for you and your family.

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