What is an Operating System?
An operating system is a piece of software that controls access to a computer’s resources. It controls access to the computer's hard drive, memory, processor, and network connection. It provides security features and often includes a graphical user interface. A graphical user interface displays things such as windows and images on a screen, instead of just text.
The most common examples are Microsoft Windows, Apple’s Mac OS X, and Linux operating systems. They provide security features to protect the user from malicious software, provide update mechanisms, allow multiple programs to run simultaneously.
What are the benefits?
Operating systems are essential tools to computing - every digital device requires an operating system to function. As stated above, the two main operating system were developed by Microsoft and Apple. While there are varying opinions on the inherent safety of one over the other, no official, unbiased evidence supports such opinions. Both operating systems come with parental controls, and both allow for the addition of security software to increase safe use of the operating systems.
What are the risks?
Operating systems are how your applications interface with your computer’s hardware. Viruses, spyware, and other forms of malware can infect your operating system. These can collect personal information, display unwanted information (including pornography and advertising) and cause performance problems.
How can I use it safely?
There are several things you can do to make sure your operating system provides a safe environment for your kids. New operating systems such as Mac OS X 10.3 and above, along with Windows Vista and above include parental controls built into the operating system. Seek out information about what the parental controls entail and how to use them.
In addition to having parental controls, modern operating systems also include firewalls. Firewalls prevent unauthorized network traffic from taking place, preventing problems with hackers and viruses. Make sure you keep the firewall included with your operating system enabled. Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Mac OS X all come with the firewall enabled by default.
Operating systems are among the largest and most complex pieces of software in existence today. Despite major effort to eradicate bugs and make them secure, issues arise after they are released. As a result, modern operating systems require updates, which provide bug fixes, performance enhancements, and most importantly, security improvements. You should know how to and regularly update your operating system. This keeps your computer running well.