18/05/09. More and more school children are using the internet. Picture: Damaris Helwig

Berlin - It's not unusual for children to use their parents' user names and passwords when working on the family computer or gaming console. But experts say it's better if children are outfitted with their own identities, since that makes it easier to control what children do with the machine.

The main goal is to keep children away from inappropriate content online, says Martin Muesgens of the EU initiative Klicksafe. “You can block specific services or sites, set up a filter or give your child his own homepage,” he says.

You can find the functions you need on Windows computers under the accounts management area of the System controls or under Family Controls. It's even possible to completely block internet access for younger children by preventing browsers from even opening.

But setting up an individual user account for a child does not relieve parents of all responsibility, warns Muesgens.

“No filter provides 100-percent safety,” he notes. And, despite all safeguards, children can still stumble across content that upsets or discomfits them. That's why parents should always keeps an eye on what their children are doing online, talk with them about their experiences and be prepared to be their first contact point for questions.

Such contact makes it ever easier to expand the options of a child's account over time, as appropriate.

“Observe how confidently your child interacts online,” advises Muesgens. It's important that the child react sensibly and with a level head, grasps the functions of the PC and doesn't unnecessarily share personal information.

Modern gaming consoles also allow each individual user to set up an account. That means younger players can be blocked from having access to download portals and can only start up games intended for their age group.

“The consoles can read the age setting and block games as necessary,” says Muesgens. Of course, age settings in a game only indicate that there is no inappropriate content included. A complex strategy game can still prove too taxing for a child. - Sapa-dpa