Are you monitoring internet use for your child with Autism? Have you ever considered a link between internet use and Autism? Early last year (2011) a disagreement broke out among prominent academics in the UK. It was over increased internet use and it’s link to Autism. The row started when Susan Greenfield – a leading neuroscientist – suggested links between internet use and Autism. The suggestion was declared as “illogical garbage” by her fellow Oxford University professor, Dr. Dorothy Bishop.
While the debate is ongoing, it does bring to attention some interesting points about the state of our internet use as a whole. When Greenfield was defending her claims, she cited a study in Scientific America. It shows that US teenagers may be losing their ability to feel empathy because of over use of social networks and less human interaction. I should mention that she goes on to say “I point to an increase in Autism and I point to an increase in Internet use, that is all”. You can read the full article here.
Monitoring Internet Use with Children
The article and debate is interesting, but in my eyes it leads us to a point that is more common sense than ground breaking science. Internet use should be in moderation, especially at a young age. Of course, this applies to a child with or without Autism. It is one extra decision parents have to make in this digital age. When should I start allowing my child to use the internet and what should I allow them to see?
It’s a tough question, and one that obviously has no right answer. But there are ways of making your decision easier, by monitoring internet use. From parental blocking applications to ‘mini-Internets’ for children of a certain age, companies and developers have addressed the issue of a no-bars internet and produced a variety of ways for a parents to control, monitor and restrict their child’s internet use.
Applications For Monitoring Internet Use
Zac Browser for example, is a web browser specifically design for children with Autism spectrum disorders. Developed for younger children, Zac Browser is completely free and is available for PC, Mac & iPad. The Browser includes a variety of games that focus on the needs of children with Autism. The browser has received some great feedback and is supported by the Autism Advisory Board.
If you’re looking for something with a bit more freedom, then Net Nanny is the award winning Parental Control software for the internet. Being the leader in it’s field, Net Nanny allows you to block websites of a certain nature based on categories and age limits. The software can filter websites that include certain words and can block any page about pornography, alcohol, gambling, hate speech and mature content in general, whilst also blocking ‘questionable chat rooms’. Net Nanny is completely flexible to you.
The above examples deal with complete control over what is accessed online. For some (and for parents of older children and teenagers) these approaches may seem too infantile. For me, the next logical step is away from blocking and control and towards monitoring internet use computer activity.
Gecko Computer Monitoring Software, although not specifically aimed at monitoring internet use with children, it monitors all activities on the computer it is installed on. The software monitors applications used, keystrokes entered, websites visited and document/printer activity, while also taking periodic screenshots. All of this can be reviewed at a later date or emailed to you remotely. You can read more about Gecko Monitor on the website.
I hope that these three examples represent the variety of applications available for controlling, filtering and monitoring internet use with children. Of course, there are many more available and I hope they become more wide spread at a time when deciding how exposed your kids are to the internet isn’t an option, but a necessity.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.