Thursday, March 8, 2007

With A Little Help From My Friends

Recently, the subject of censorship came up on Cool Moms Rule when The Higher Power of Lucky risked being banned from school libraries due to the use of the word "scrotum."

This piece started me thinking. First of all, I am against banning books for any reason. I think that knowledge should be made freely available. In addition, I don't want people I have never met making decisions for my children (or for me) when it comes to what is or is not appropriate. I consider it my responsibility as a parent to teach my children right from wrong. I taught them their colors and their letters and their numbers. I taught them to walk and to talk and (with a lot of help from their teachers) to read. I am the one who is teaching them, hopefully, how to think, so that when the day comes that I am no longer around to guide them, they will still make good decisions.

That being said, as a Mother of not one but two children, it's not always easy to decide when to teach what to each child. The Rhino is always trying to catch up to The Owl, whether I think he is ready or not. For example, though at 13 my Owl is old enough to watch most PG13 movies with no problems, my 11yo Rhino merely thinks he is. I know that his very active imagination takes off where the movie stops, and some images will give him nightmares. The question is, do I hold his brother back until they are both ready for these movies? That's a tough one. The Rhino tells me earnestly that there are kids at his school--and this is an elementary school--that have been watching horror movies for years! And when they say 'horror' today, we all know it's not about suspense any more. It's about gore. When I watch movies with the boys, I make a big deal about makeup and special effects if I think anything is TOO realistic. But it's still a dicey situation.

And, of course, we're going to have to deal with sex eventually. The boys have a great relationship with their Dad, and they've had Talks already. And whenever a teachable moment comes along, I go with it (for example, "See those supermodels in their underwear on TV? Real women don't look like that," or "Smart lasts longer than pretty. Find a pretty girl, fine, but make sure she is smart, too.") Still, I cringe at the thought of all that misinformation my boys are probably hearing from friends in school, and I'm glad that, no matter how embarrassing I may be to them, I'm here if they need me.

All this long-windedness actually has a point, believe it or not. The point is, I don't think other people should decide what's good for your kids, but I also know that you as parents can't always be on the spot to make that decision.

Which is why, when I heard about this today, I thought it might not be such a bad idea. A lot of companies offer services that offer 'safe' surfing to block out inappropriate websites, etc. Apparently, though, there is a group called NetIntelligence that works with schools and corporations on all kinds of educational products that does more than that. Their home version
gives you the ability to filter and customize web access for your children, record all instant messaging conversations, set and monitor time spent on your computers, both on and off line and prevent harmful viruses - in one easy to use combined product. And with our Parental Control version you can use the service on three separate machines as standard.

I especially like that last part--no buying additional software for each computer in the house. And I know a lot of parents that worry about sites like 'My Space' nowadays. So, anyway, I am putting up the link to NetIntelligence's Home Edition here on the blog for anyone that is interested.

NetIntelligence Home Edition

Sometimes, parents just need a little help.

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Wesley Fryer said...

Thanks for the link to NetIntelligence. I hadn't heard of that. Some ISPs are now offering free monitoring software too. I have those linked from a wiki site for a parenting class I've started teaching with my wife here in Edmond, Oklahoma. Our class is called "Digital Dialog" and the website is

I'm interested in learning more about software families can use at home-- I think we need router-based content filters that will filter content for all computers accessing the Internet from home: wireless laptops as well as wired PCs. Our family now has several laptops, and it would be nice to have a content filtering solution that handled everyone regardless of what they have installed on their computer. I haven't seen a solution like this for homes but I'm looking for it.

Viv said...

I checked out Wesley's site, and it has great info, so it is now on the blogroll list. Thanks for the comment!

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