As parents we always want our children to have things and opportunities that we ourselves never had when growing up. It is for this reason that my son, Tyler, received his own computer at the age of 6 months. Yeah, I know you're thinking that is just plain crazy, but honestly it worked out well. He had a touchscreen by which he could press pictures and watch cartoons and stuff like that. We also used it as a nanny-cam and baby monitor. It was really quite useful.
Now my son has reached the grand old age of five. He's beginning to be able to read and he's gone past the need for his touchscreen. In fact, he is in the first stages of learning how to surf the internet.
How does a parent these days make the internet safe for a child of such a tender age? How indeed!
A few months back, I came across a new plugin for the Firefox browser called Glubble. (www.glubble.com) It doesn't work for Internet Explorer, and from the looks of it they have no plans to support it. Glubble makes the internet a safe and fun place for young minds to explore.
Glubble has a different layout depending on whether you are viewing it with adult priveleges or child priveleges. For adults it just adds a couple buttons to the toolbar to interact with the system. And for children, it simplifies the entire browser into something that they can easily grasp. Using the adult privileges requires a password so your child can't get into it, though you can turn the password off if it is a machine that your children won't ever be using.
Now, whenever my son wishes to view a new page, or clicks on a link, a box comes up prompting him to ask either "Daddy" or "Mommy" for permission. After he has used that box to ask, I get a message that pops up in my browser that tells me that he wishes to see a site and it gives me the link to the site he is interested in. I check out the site and decide whether or not it is something that he should be looking at and then I can either allow or deny it.
If I allow it, he gets a popup box in his browser that tells him that "Daddy has said it is OK to go to ..." and he can then visit the site.
I can also add sites to his list before he asks, and whatever I add, Glubble will remember.
Glubble also allows him to add sites to a favorites list which shows thumbnail sized pictures of his favorite websites.
And on top of that, there is a personal home page that he can see with a new feature called the Family Wall, basically a kind of family message board, where he can send and receive messages to either me or my wife.
All in all it is a very nice and well thought out system, and the support staff at Glubble.com are all very helpful and they take all suggestions for improvement very seriously.
Because this is for Firefox, Glubble can be used on Windows, Linux, or Macintosh. Keep in mind that if you want your kids to use this, you'll need to get rid of their access to other browsers such as Internet Explorer or Safari. Using Glubble can make the internet safe and fun for your kids, but it doesn't help anything if they can just start up a different browser and bypass it.
Until next week, keep those kids safe and sound!
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