Net Nanny

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Whether it's surfing the net, playing games or socialising online our kids are falling victim to computer addiction.

Roger Manu, a father of three, started 'Educateme' in an attempt to save his own children from turning into square-eyed zombies. Now it could change the way all families use the home computer.

'Educateme' gives control of the computer back to parents.

Each day you allocate how much time your child can have for recreational activities - like playing games or chatting on facebook - the timer does the rest.

"If they're accessing recreational activities a clock or a timer will count down and eventually, when time expires, the solution will be logged off," Roger said.

The clock stops when your child accesses educational programs, websites or finally decides to do some homework.

Not only will it make the computer more of a privilege, it also teaches kids to manage their time better. Roger says its worked for his children.

"This is about balance. We're not trying to penalise kids, we're trying to say to kids you've got a limited amount of time to play your game," he said.

As for getting around the software, Roger says he hasn't found anything that does so.

But its not a panacea for all the problems a personal computer presents. Children still need to be supervised.

Erin Cash worked for Queensland police's Paedophile Taskforce ARGOS, disguised as a 12-year-old girl in online chat rooms. She was a lure for predators on the prowl for children.

"There are men and women out there that spend 16 hours a day or more sitting in front of a computer solely preying on our children," Erin said.

Erin says if you don't know how to use a computer, or what your child is up to, you can assume they are being groomed to be offended against - on Facebook, on myspace, even gaming websites.

"If you leave your child unsupervised, it would be the equivalent of allowing a stranger to come into your home and look after your child," Erin said.

Former detective Brett Lee travels around the country conducting internet safety seminars. Brett believes education is the key to safety, informing children and parents on the do's and don'ts when surfing the net.

"There are people looking for your information, there are people that want to talk to you, to contact you, but if you don't respond to them, you don't give them information, they can’t touch you," he said.

"These guys are almost being arrested on a daily basis in Australia."
Both Erin and Brett say parents should buy an internet content filter and firewall - software to block certain websites and chat rooms which may have pornographic or violent material.

But even then, it's never a substitute for looking over your child's shoulder.
You can download Roger Manu's Parental Time Control software at www.123educateme.com.au

You can download a fully-functional FREE trial for 7 days. After that time, if you want to keep using it, you pay $39.95 per PC or $59.95 for a three PC household.

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