- See 1 and 2.
I'm generally an optimist (eg. odds are nothing bad would ever happen); however, when your kids well-being comes into the picture, i think you need to approach things with a good dose of reality (eg. bad things do happen, be cautious). That is not to say that you should lean too far into pessimism (the net will harm my child and small kittens).
In my mind, here is how the reality looks:
- there are folks looking to take advantage of kids on the net
- those bad people are the minority
- the net is the education medium of the future (coming soon: a post predicting my kids will not go to college)
- kids need to know how to use the net
- kids need to know about trusting people, or not (this is the same for first life just like second life)
- there does not exist software that can keep your kids away from all places you don't want them to go
- no, there is not, really
- if you have said software, your kid knows how to turn it off
- if you have a hardware product, your kids knows how to unplug wires to move it out of the way
I will say that my thoughts on the matter have changed over the last couple of years. Two years ago, my plan was to create a whitelist, by ip address, of allowed web sites using ipchains. Modern web architectures (eg. content delivery networks, horizontal scaling) have rendered that plan a non-starter, which is probably for the best.
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. -- Old Chinese Proverb
A modern translation could read:
Give a kid a firewall and you protect him for a day. Teach a kid to surf and you protect him for a lifetime.
I would probably still consider adding a protective software layer (or a proxy service) for younger kids; just remember to not rely on it: supervise and instruct.