If you have a child at home under the age of 18, and your child has access to the web, you probably subscribe to, or have at least considered subscribing to an internet filtering service. We have had at least seven different filters over the years. You would think that they would all be pretty similar, and that any one of them would work as well as another one, but that’s really not the case.
We started back in our naïve years with a wonderful “free” parental filter that came with our DSL service. We were already paying $19.95 a month for internet service, which seemed like a travesty at the beginning of the new millennium, so we were thrilled to have a free filter thrown in as a bonus. Thrilled, that is, until I walked by and found my six year old playing online poker with presumably more mature strangers who misspelled curse words and probably opened beer bottles with their teeth. Much to Uber’s dismay, the poker game was quickly over, and so was our relationship with our free filter. (I have to admit, I was reluctant to stop the game though…the little guy was beating the pants off poor Git’erdun877)
Filter #2 was a respectable filter that we purchased at Staples, and installed on our family computer. It had the name of something along the lines of Cyber Alert, and it worked remarkably well. So well, in fact, that my husband and I were no longer able to check the news, our church website, or even an email from R-T’s aunt (who was 78). Apparently there was a crack in the Pentagon security system, a weed problem in the church parking lot, and an issue with dear auntie’s muscle cream, which didn’t seem to penetrate deeply enough to give her any real relief. Needless to say, that program was a bust.
On to other filters. There was the one that my son figured out how to change the administrator password on (when it asked me if I wanted to keep my password as ‘Pokemon’, I started to catch on). There was a filter that froze our computer every time we logged on – – but boy was the security tight on that one. And then there was that terrific filter that recognized “skin” and would blur it out in images to avoid accidentally viewing porn. I don’t know if it frustrated R-T or the boys, but it drove me up the wall. Have you ever tried to buy a swimsuit online when you had to squint sideways to make out the pattern??
Which brings us to our current filter, iProtect You. So far, so good. Not only does it block objectionable sites, but it let’s me know everyone’s surfing habits as well. So, as far as I know, the boys haven’t been able to access bomb blueprints, gambling rings, or Pamela Anderson’s bedroom webcam. It hasn’t, however, blocked me from wasting hours trying to locate a swimsuit that will be slimming and flattering for a pear shaped figure. Well, I guess no filter is perfect.