How to Keep Your Foster Child Safe Online

by John DeGarmo

Filters and parental control settings can help you keep your foster child safe from many of the online dangers.  Internet filters are designed to prevent users from accessing inappropriate content from certain websites. By using keywords, these programs filter out sites that are defined by the words you determine. When the software locates these key words, the sites are blocked. Net Nanny, CYBERsitter, and CyberPatrol are just three of the many filter-based programs available for foster parents to purchase.

Parental control settings are quite similar to filters as they are another way to manage the child’s online access and use, and they are easy to install. There are also apps and software that allow you to receive an alert or message indicating when someone has tried to tamper with your control settings. These apps and software can be downloaded and installed onto your own online device. A number of these can be purchased at a small fee; others are free. Some of those that are free include Norton Online Family, DNS Angel, Bitdefender Parental Control, and FortiClient, to name a few. Internet ProtectionSeveral offer additional benefits, such as allowing you to see how your foster child displays himself on social networking sites. Another benefit includes allowing you to track your child’s online preferences and searches. Still another offers you the opportunity to choose how long your child spends online and when a device is to shut down. There are also those apps and software that allow you to test their services for a short period of time before purchasing, such as a free trial run.

These sorts of filters will be in place in schools, restricting children’s access to sites that might be considered inappropriate and harmful to them. Indeed, most schools do not permit children to use social network sites; although as one who works in a school system, I assure you that children are finding a way around these restrictions on a regular basis. DeGarmo book image

It is important that you recognize that as a foster parent, you will be a role model for your foster child. Your foster child will not only be watching you, but the child will also be learning from you. After all, you may very likely be the first positive adult role model the child has had, and it is important to embrace this opportunity you have with the child. Therefore, foster parents must appreciate the fact that they are going to be a role model for their foster child in regards to computer use.

If you are going to be in front of your computer for several hours a day while at home, it should then be acceptable for your foster child to do so as well. If you are going to download movies and watch them on your computer, your foster child should be able to do so as well. If you listen to music online, your foster child will wonder why he is not able to do so also. Indeed, whatever you are doing online and with a computer device, your foster child will be watching you and learning your behavior and actions regarding computer use. This is certainly something to bear in mind the next time you sit down at the computer or online device. Foster parents must be a positive role model for all things regarding computers.

For more information, purchase Dr. DeGarmo’s new book, Keeping Foster Children Safe Online: Positive Strategies to Prevent Cyberbullying, Inappropriate Contact, and Other Digital Dangers.

John DeGarmo PhotoDr. John DeGarmo has been a foster parent for 12 years, now, and he and his wife have had over 45 children come through their home.  He is a speaker and trainer on many topics about the foster care system, and travels around the nation delivering passionate, dynamic, energetic, and informative presentations. Dr. DeGarmo is the author of several books, including the new book,  Keeping Foster Children Safe Online; his first book, The Foster Parenting Manual: A Practical Guide to Creating a Loving, Safe and Stable Home; and the foster care children’s book, A Different Home: A New Foster Child’s Story. Dr. DeGarmo is the host of the weekly radio program Foster Talk with Dr. John, He can be contacted at [email protected], through his Facebook page, Dr. John DeGarmo, or at his website,

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