There is often a debate as to what is “too young” for children to be using technology and the Internet and I am not going to make an argument either way on a correct age. What I will say to the correct age for children to be using the Internet is something the child’s parents will need to decide.
So after getting that out of the way, I would like to discuss what I have found to be a good method of protecting children (at least my children) from some of the dark depths of the Internet. So with full disclosure I should state that I do like Microsoft products so there might be a slight slant toward utilizing Microsoft products in my writings.
When Windows 8 launched Microsoft began to offer a service called Family Safety accessible at https://familysafety.microsoft.com. When a user account is added to the Family Safety account, the device can be monitored and functionality can be defined on the website. There is however one downside to using a Family Safety account for children, there is a very slight charge ($0.50) which is used to validate that an adult is the person that is creating the account. With Family Safety there is basic web filtering, full web monitoring, curfew restrictions, and application restrictions additionally when the user account is added to a device it is added as a restricted user. One great feature of family safety is that if you want to set a restriction on the child’s account you can set it on the website and it will be automatically pushed to all of the computers the child has access to use. Adding a curfew to the child will disable their access when the time kicks in without the need to restart or logoff / login to the device.
Family Safety does a good job at securing the device but it does not completely filter the Internet, which is where Blue Coat K9 does a good job (available at http://www1.k9webprotection.com/). K9 has the ability to filter web pages by category and block / allow specific URLs and one of my favorite features is that it can filter YouTube. With YouTube, there is often bad language and content in the comments and with K9 it will remove all of the comments and it will filter the videos (including thumbnails) based on rating.
Both of my children (under 8) have computers and I having Family Safety and K9 help protect the kids when I am not there with them on the Internet.