This week, April 27 – May 1, is deemed Internet Safety Week by the national PTO (in association with Symantec). It’s the first time that there has been declared an Internet Safety Week, coincidentally it coincides with the release of OnlineFamily.Norton — a software service designed to start conversations between parents and their children instead of just monitoring/blocking the sites and applications your children use while online.
From the PTO blog posting announcing the Internet Safety Week – which is a redirect to schoolfamily.com – it does provide several resources and hints and tips for parents to help keep their kids safe online. OnlineFamily.Norton is prominently shown on each page as a free resource as another service to monitor your kids while they’re online.
If you go to the OnlineFamily.Norton website, you can watch a video with the cheese-meter dialed to 11. (I mean the young daughter has self-image problems, the son is too much into football, the dad needs to lose a few pounds and the mom is the one to keep it all together – no stereotyping there…but I digress). If you go to the OnlineFamily.Norton website from the schoolfamily.com ad, you are auto-prompted to sign-up for an account before you even know what the software will do.
The basics of the new service is to start a dialogue with your kids. The press release talks of the features of age-appropriate settings that can be customized by the parents, easy reporting of your kids’ online activity, and website monitoring control, instant messaging monitoring, and securing personal information.
Full disclosure: I’ve not installed the software, even with the free (for now) price-tag.
Because the kids’ computer is in the living room – visible from the kitchen or the couch, and while I agree that some will want the assistance of a internet monitoring software, my kids are only on the computer when the GeekMom or I are nearby. So, for me, I’m not seeing value in the software (I’m not even curious enough to install it) – your mileage may vary, and I mean no disrespect for those that do choose to try/use the software. This is one of those areas that quickly divides parents. I’ve chosen not to install it.
I do admit Symantec’s move to emphasize dialogue and education over pure-play internet monitoring is a good one. Let’s hope the real price of the software in 2010 is worth it.