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Protecting children from online threats isn’t easy, but parents often make it more difficult that it needs to be. Implementing safe technology in your home starts with making safe technology the number one priority for all technology related purchases. Since the majority of what we do with technology involves the internet, that is where we have to start. EVERY SINGLE TIME that I have seen families unable to implement their chosen parental control products/services it is because the internet service and/or equipment they have purchased for their home is either not compatible or it does not allow them to edit certain necessary settings. To save time and frustration and allow you to make “best practice” decisions for your family protection, make that the priority for every technology purchase starting with your internet provider and equipment. All of the best options for home parental controls start with the router. And, some of the best routers today have parental control options built in.
The mistake is trying to make safe technology work with your purchases instead of making your purchases work with safe technology. Putting the priority on having an awesome audio/visual setup or the service provider that gives you the best deal could limit your ability to protect your kids online. The problem can often be prevented by asking the right questions and setting the proper expectations before you choose a provider. See the end of this post for a list of those.
It is absolutely possible to have great options for watching TV and best practice parental controls because we have that in our home and we even have a media room which does not lack in variety or quality of equipment. If you cannot use the products or service you want for your family protection, it may be time to have your provider come out and make some changes or go with another provider.
There are always exceptions. There are places where only one provider is available. If that is your situation, I am sorry, but keep searching because new options for internet delivery to the home are on the horizon and may be coming to your area soon.
Questions and expectations for an internet service provider:
- “I only need your company to provide internet service with a modem, not a modem/router combo unit. I want to provide my own router.”
- If they insist that you have to have a modem/router combination unit then ask them if it gives you the ability to edit the DNS settings of the router. If they don’t know, have them find someone who does. If they say yes, get confirmation from their supervisor and the names of the people who told you that.
- Require that they give you a decent trial period for their service and equipment so that if it does not meet your needs or live up to their promises you may return it without penalty or fee other than the service that they have provided you during that time.
- If you hire someone to setup your home network, make sure they give you the administration password to your router and before they decide which router to sell to you let them know that you want to use router-based parental controls or a router that has built-in parental controls (see links above). If they are at all hesitant or discouraging about that, they do not know enough about basic network setup so hire someone else.