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(ARA) – Kids, computers and the Internet — it can be a formula for fun and education or, if not wisely managed, a jungle of pitfalls and potentially dangerous situations for kids in the 21st century. It can take lots of dedication to effectively control your child’s access to a home PC and the Internet. But for many busy parents the prospect of having to buy, install and maintain cybersafety filters and time management programs can be daunting.

“My daughter’s happiness and safety is paramount, including when she’s using our home PC and the Internet,” says Robin Mason, the parent of a 12-year-old. “My life is very busy, and I don’t have time to deal with complicated safety settings on our computer or watch my daughter every minute she’s online. I need a technology that will make it easier for me to be a responsible parent.”

Here are five tips to help parents such as Mason get a grip on home PC and Internet management:

* Place your family PC in an open, visible location. Kids computing and surfing the Web behind closed doors takes you, the parent, out of the supervising role.

* Get hip to your Web browser’s access settings to block out objectionable Web sites. Windows Internet Explorer, for example, has a Content Advisor option that allows you to block sites with sexual content, violence and other categories.

* Preset your search engine to be kid friendly. Search engines usually have filter settings to block sexually explicit text and image results. Lists of pre-screened kid-safe research sites are also available online.

* If you’re in the market for a new PC, go for one with the new Windows Vista operating system. Windows Vista includes a one-stop Parental Controls feature with a suite of tools to allow parents to do the following:

Control what days of the week and what hours in each day your child may have access to your home computer and the Internet.

Set Web site access restrictions (the Medium level, for example, blocks Web sites that do not use an age-appropriate rating).

Block game playing, specific game titles or access to games with a mature age rating.

Get an activity report showing the top 10 Web sites your child has visited, most recent sites blocked and other useful information, including file downloads, downloads blocked, programs run, games played and e-mail and instant messaging activity.

* Talk to your children about cybersafety. Have them sign a pledge with rules for what is and is not OK to do.

For more about Windows Vista and the new Parental Controls and other security enhancements, visit . At the site you can download the Upgrade Advisor program to identify your PC’s upgrade needs.

Courtesy of ARAcontent