Tips & Advice

While his curiosity was OK, the content was not

Whitney Glockner Black, 26 December 2019

One mom tells how she addressed the issue of inappropriate websites with the Avast Omni

As the mom of three boys under 10, I’ve found that screens can be a sanity saver by keep my boys quiet and occupied. But as they mature in their use of tech, I worry that I am “free-ranging” them on the internet. 

My 8-year-old recently asked for his own device, and when I let him use my old phone we stumbled into 21st century parenting predicament. 

We set up content filters and screen time limits on the phone, then turned him loose. It didn’t take long for him to wander into a trouble spot. 

whitneyAuthor Whitney Glockner Black, a PR director at Avast

One afternoon I entered his room unannounced to find him watching adult content on “his” phone. We were both panic-stricken. He was overwhelmed and embarrassed; I was afraid I’d failed him. In several difficult conversations, we allayed his fears that he was in trouble. We ultimately successfully reassured him that while his curiosity was OK, the content was not. 

We ultimately successfully reassured him that while his curiosity was OK, the content was not. 

That night I tried to figure out where I had gone wrong. The telltale clue was a deeply buried setting. I had overlooked the checkbox that shut down “video embedded in websites.” That one peephole into the adult world allowed him to click on an ad on a soccer site and start browsing a hardcore adult content. 

Parenting forums packed with similar experiences gave testimony to the fact that many feel outmanned and outsmarted in our attempts to create a safer internet for our kids. 

To take control of the internet, I needed the right technology. As a PR director with Avast, I was lucky enough to get early access to our newest product, Avast Omni. Stay with me here: This is not just a product plug. I didn’t invent or enjoy my kid’s predicament. And Avast Omni is legit. Chosen as a Consumer Electronics Show Best of Innovation Honoree, Avast Omni addresses the growing problem of protecting your family from threats on the internet – on any smart device

omniI unboxed it, attached it to my router, and immediately, I could see all the devices connected to my network. I was able to organize them, assign them to members of our family, and set profiles for everyone who has a device connected to our Wi-Fi. 

Omni also works for IoT devices, so I can see if something unusual is going on with my smart home devices and cameras. And I can turn the internet on and off for any device or any individual. 

Here’s what else I learned: As parents, we need to remember that our children have access to the internet before they have the capacity for moral reasoning. Despite their little flashes of deviant behavior, kids want to be protected from harm. 

We also made a few key changes to how we approach internet access in our house: 

Locking content down: We turn off huge chunks of the internet. Social media, almost all gaming (we whitelist sites we are ok with), and almost all streaming. 

Controlling content at the network. Because Omni connects to the router, I can see exactly what devices are connected to my network and control their flow of content to and from the internet. 

Accepting that “off” is OK. Adults allow ourselves always-on access to the internet; that doesn’t mean that’s the way it should be for our kids. Omni’s controls allow parents to turn the internet on or off for specific devices. I love this feature most of all. When my son wants to access the internet now, it’s simple for me to turn it on. 

I also make sure he’s in the room with an adult when he does so there is no need for him to make choices that he just doesn’t yet have the capacity to make. Off by default makes us all feel safer and he can play games and watch content already downloaded to his device.

The most important thing we can do is talk to our kids about what they do on their devices. Keep the conversations and the devices out in the open, and you’ll feel more confident and secure in letting your kids explore all that the internet has to offer. 

Avast Omni hits the big stage at CES as an innovation honoree Jan. 7-10. We’ll be at the Living in Digital Times Event at the Sands Convention Center Booth #44564 demonstrating the great things Omni can do.