The school board has decided: Schools in Prince William County will not reopen in August. Instead, students at all grade levels will ‘go to school’ via distance learning for at least the first quarter of the new school year.
That means families will make adjustments in their schedules that they did not expect until a few days ago. Many will continue to telework, so they will be at home with their students. Other families where parents must leave the house for work will not have the schools to teach their children, and provide two meals a day and before/after school supervision to extend the day from 7 AM to 5 PM on weekdays. Our sincere concern goes out to you in this difficult situation as you seek solutions that work for you.
When virtual classes begin in August, kids will be on-line every day with class instructions or to do homework. Their curiosity and inclination to investigate the internet puts them at great risk to be sucked in by on-line porn, predators and slick sex traffickers. Parents cannot be looking over their students’ shoulders constantly, so how can you protect your children from all the sexploitation trying to seduce your kids?
Following are some safeguards you can investigate and find what best suits your needs:
- The Windows Desktop has a “SafeSearch” setting that you can put into a restricted mode to filter out adult content.
On your Desktop open “Settings”. Click on the “Search” icon. Check the “Strict” radial button. Scroll down and click “Save.” Conduct a search.
Website preferences can also be restricted with respect to non-Microsoft browser such as Google Chrome. Check also the settings for:
- Children’s supervised devices and accounts using the Family Link app
- Workplace or school devices and networks
- The mission of “Protect Young Minds” is to empower parents, professionals and community leaders to protect young kids from pornography and promote healing from any sexual exploitation. Their website is at: protectyoungminds.org/online-safety/. This website helps parents know how to approach the problem of porn on-line and ways to establish communication with your kids so they know how to deal with porn if they encounter it on-line.
- Are your kids online more thanks to COVID-19? Here are five Internet filtering services for families to consider (list from here at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (endsexualexploitation.org)). The five options include: Circle, Qustodio, Covenant Eyes, Net Nanny, and Bark.
- Circle’s award-winning parental controls let you manage screen time and monitor not just some, but ALL websites and apps. With our complete in-home and on-the-go solution, you set the rules for sites like YouTube, TikTok, HouseParty (and many more) across all your family’s connected devices. There is a cost for Circle.
- Qustodio provides powerful monitoring tools and parental controls for things like screen time, adult content and games. There is a monthly cost.
- Covenant Eyes appears to be an app for phones and other devices. It seems more appropriate for accountability against watching porn rather than filtering material inappropriate for children and youth. It may be appropriate for teens’ machines at your discretion. There is a cost.
- Net Nanny monitors your family’s digital habits and protects them from harmful content. Net Nanny®provides the most effective content filtering to keep your family’s website browsing safe in real-time. Make managing screen time a breeze with the power to change limits at your fingertips. There is a cost for the service.
- Bark’s affordable, award-winning dashboard proactively monitors text messages, YouTube, emails, and 30+ different social networks for potential safety concerns, so busy parents can save time and gain peace of mind. While there is a cost for this service, you can try it for free.
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation provides links to websites where these tools can be purchased here.
These are just some of the resources available to help parents prevent exploitation of their kids’ minds and attention. With a month to go, virtual classes will begin in August. You can be prepared to protect your children while they distance learn.
If you have additional questions or concerns, please comment below and the Prince William Family Alliance will address your need here as soon as possible. Thanks and God bless you!
— Posted by Tom Salmon for Doris, a fellow member of the Prince William and Manassas Family Alliance