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CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call
Andrea Eldridge is CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, an on-site computer and laptop repair service for consumers and businesses. Andrea is the writer of two weekly columns, Computer Nerds On Call, a nationally syndicated column for Scripps-Howard News Service, and Nerd Chick Adventures in The Record Searchlight.
Jun 13, 2013
Your computer has had a relatively restful winter and spring, but now it's time for that part of the year that all family computers dread the most: summer. With it not only comes the searing heat that can make it harder for it to run - don't you know the feeling – but also the onslaught of usage by kids that have been in school until now.
Where you're happy to use the computer the way it is, your curious children will explore and download everything they can get their hands on. Videos, games and music, but with that comes spyware, malware and other intrusive programs you do not want. So while you do your best to enforce rules about the computer, you can't be standing over their shoulders all the time.
Here are some programs and techniques to keep the computer mayhem to a minimum and to keep your kids safe on the Internet.
The first program that you absolutely need to have installed is an anti-virus, anti-malware software set up to scan regularly. If you're running Windows, install Microsoft Security Essentials. It's free and integrates well with Windows. It protects every version of Windows since XP.
If you use a Mac you don't have to worry as much, but you should still have protection. Avast Free Antivirus for Mac is a good choice.
Set-up Separate Accounts
Not only do separate user accounts allow your kids to personalize their part of the computer without interfering with yours, but it affords other benefits as well. Separate user accounts will keep the kids out of each other's “business,” and you can stay in everyone's “business.”
By setting up an administrator account, your kids will have to ask you to type in your password to do things that could be harmful. You can customize the security settings to only alert you when there's really something that deserves your attention. Just make sure to double-check what you're approving every time!
Hire an Internet Nanny
Unfortunately separate user accounts don't solve every problem. Your young children still have access to most of the internet and all that entails. By using a program like Net Nanny, you can customize your children's access options even further. The program allows you to set time limits on Internet usage, as well as control the video games your kids are able to play.
If you have young children, you can make sure they can't access the Internet except when you're home. If you have older children, you can set up notifications to tell you whenever Net Nanny blocks a site, or when your kids access sketchy material.
If you're using Windows, you can access some of these features from within the operating system using Family Safety. You'll have to set up user profiles, but you can monitor and control usage from there.
If you get stuck, just add your favorite computer repair professional to speed dial, they can always help you set up these protocols and safety features.
Also, remember all these programs aren't a replacement for communication. Make sure to be open with your kids about the Internet. They've grown up using it and they probably think they're better than you at it. Remind them that you're trying to keep them – and the data on your computer – safe.