Blocking IM Use

While parents often focus their attention on limiting a child's computer game and Internet use, there are other technology sources that should probably be limited as well. One of these is instant message. Teenagers, in particular, are addicted to instant message. You may not even realize that they are sending messages multiple times a day - if not dozens of times a day. These messages can keep your child from concentrating on school work, family and other items.

In addition, these messages are often sent to strangers, and your child might be having a dialogue with someone who is dangerous. Instant messages, however, are hard to track. What can you do? There certainly are some products that are intended to block instant messaging.

How Does the Software Block IM?

In order to be truly effective, the program needs to be effective at the protocol level. This means that it would block all AIM service, for instance, and not just a specific AIM client program. Without this feature, a smart child will just switch to a third-party IM client and get around the blocks that you have created. Both PC Pandora and Net Nanny work at this protocol level while most other software programs don't.

Limiting to Buddies

Some of the software programs will try to limit the child's use to their buddy list. This would include a list of pre-approved buddies that you and your child have agreed to include. This is a great idea - but it's often hard to decide which buddies to include based solely on the screen names. In order to accurately compile this list you'll need to trust what your child tells you, and to have her input. This product also has to be effective at the protocol level and it has to prevent Web-based IM as well.

Opening Up Communication

These are really the only considerations to think about when evaluating software to block IM use. Unfortunately, savvy kids can get around most IM blocks. At this point, the most important thing to consider doing is to have a real, concrete conversation with your child. Make sure that she understands the potential dangers of using instant messaging and explain what could happen if she hooks up with the wrong type of person. With open communication, you could even suggest that you look at her IM history at the end of the day, or that you make yourself available should she run into trouble that she wants to get out of.


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With the advent of wireless Internet, more and more computer users are entering the world of cyber space.

Yet, while these users are well aware of the importance of the protection of their computer when hooked up to regular internet providers, they are often oblivious to the fact that the same cyber dangers, and in fact even more, exist in the world of WiFi.

What you may not know is that same Internet connection that makes it possible to check your email from the comfort of your bed also makes it easier for hackers to access your personal information.

It is for this reason, the sharing of the wireless Internet connection, that protecting your computer when wireless is even more important than ever before.