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Online safety goes back to school

As students head back to the classroom, PC Pandora reminds parents to implement computer and Internet usage rules and utilize parental control and monitoring software tools to help keep their young learners focused and safe online.

It’s August and that means students are headed back to classrooms across the country. While some kids may have found more time to surf idly online during the summer, the school year gives them an excuse to be online even more.

“Kids definitely spend more time online during the summer months,” says James Leasure, Co-Founder of Pandora Corp., makers of PC Pandora parental control monitoring software. “But very often, parents will try to curtail that time. Now with school back in the picture, kids have the excuse they need to ‘legally’ be online and surfing the Internet.”

Parents will have no choice but to allow their kids to be on the computer, as many teachers now post homework online, encourage online research and require properly typed homework. But unsupervised time can quickly turn to mischief.

“Instead of doing research for a report, they may be updating their Facebook pages,” says Leasure.

Going back to school also means forging new school friendships and participating in new activities.

“There is no doubt that kids keep in constant touch over the Internet throughout the summer,” says Leasure, “but they may find themselves becoming friends with classmates they weren’t friends with before or perhaps befriending the new student at school. Add to that the joining of special clubs or sports, and there is a definite chance of new friends popping up on your child’s social network page and IM buddy lists.”

Pandora corp. is reminding parents to stay in control and to implement rules of usage for the home computer. Parental control and monitoring software combined with proper communication is the recipe for success.

“Make sure you set up allowed times of use and rules for proper usage,” explains Leasure. “If they are supposed to be doing schoolwork, make sure they are doing school work, and explain to them why it’s important to focus on the task at hand.”

Conversely, Leasure also wants to make sure that parents don’t forget to allow their kids free time to surf, chat and play games.

“It’s just like eating,” he says. “A healthily balanced diet is the key to a healthy child – in this case, it’s mental health and safety.”

PC Pandora monitoring software can help parents keep their kids safe both on and offline. First-rate monitoring capabilities will record all user activity through sequential snapshots, which allow you to visually see everything your child does online.

“If your kids are spending 5 minutes doing homework and 55 minutes chatting online, you will know,” states Leasure.

PC Pandora also records activity through text-based files that capture all emails sent and received, instant messenger conversations, websites visited, programs accessed, peer-to-peer files shared, keystrokes logged, search queries, webcam output, plus file and document tracking.

Parental controls in PC Pandora allow parents to prevent programs from being accessed, such as Instant Messenger, and also help filter out inappropriate web content or block specific websites – parents can even customize an ‘access denied’ message. The IRIS feature allows parents to receive updates on their child’s activity when they are not able to be home.

“Our IRIS feature is extremely invaluable to any working parent,” says Leasure. “It’ll give parents the information they need to be able to enforce Internet and computer rules when they aren’t at home.”

Classes back in session will give kids the excuse to be on the computer and online all the time. But with proper communication and effective parental control and monitoring software tools like PC Pandora, parents can make sure their kids are not abusing online privileges and staying safe. A 2-hour trial of PC Pandora is available at www.pcpandora.com.

Teenage Online Statistics:

A recent Pew Internet and American Life Project report says:

94 percent of teens 12-17 go online

63 percent of online teens go online daily

94 percent go online to do research for school assignments; 48 percent do so on a typical day

32 percent of online teens have been contacted online by a complete stranger; of teens that have been contacted, 23 percent say they were made scared or uncomfortable by the stranger contact

Social network users more likely to have been contacted by strangers

32 percent of online teens have experienced a form of cyberbullying, such as having private material (IM, txt, email) forwarded without permission, receiving threatening messages, having a rumor spread about them online or having someone post an embarrassing picture of them online without permission

Having Internet monitoring software (but not filters) is correlated with lower reported levels of contact by someone unknown to the teen or his/her friends.