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Internet Parental Controls & Filters: Are They Enough For The Job?

This Article Is Sponored By You! | Tuesday, April 17, 2007 by Salman Siddiqui | Comments
I am now blogging on my self hosted blog CompuWorld and started another blog of mine the Senorita


A Recent article on NY Times give a good description on how parents sometime rely too much on technology thinking there Internet control softwares are enough to hold there children back from watching unwanted content on the Internet. But for the tech savvy children, it isn't that hard to pass such softwares.

“They’ll find another place if your home is totally locked down,” Mr. Rubenking, lead analyst for operating systems and security for PC Magazine, said. “They will go to Jimmy’s house next door.”

Emma, the 14-year-old daughter of a good friend of the writer of that article, said her parents blocked her access to various Web sites, including YouTube and MySpace. First of all, she let me know, she knows how to get around the AOL filters by getting access to the Internet through another provider, but she chooses not to do that.

“I don’t really care that much, except it is really annoying that YouTube is blocked,” Emma said. “I just want to listen to music. I used to think it was unfair that I couldn't go on MySpace, but now I’m O.K. with it, because not a lot of my friends are on MySpace anymore.

“My parents clamp down more than my other friends’ parents,” she continued, “and I don’t think they should be able to do it. I’m smart enough not to do stupid things.”

A step beyond filtering is monitoring software. Safe Eyes, for example, was top-rated by PC Magazine last year and Consumer Reports in 2005, both for its protection and for its minimal interference with legitimate research activity.

Safe Eyes blocks Web sites, but that is only the beginning; it can also log Internet activity, limit time spent on the computer, alert parents of inappropriate computer activity and read details of instant-messaging chats. It costs $49.95 a year (www.safeeyes.com).

“When a parent calls, I say, check out what you already have before buying anything,” said Danielle Yates, a spokeswoman for GetNetWise.org, which is part of the nonprofit organization, the Internet Education Foundation.

GetNetWise.org provides a wealth of information about Internet controls, including the debate surrounding the issue and details about specific products. I found out, for example, that most of the Internet search engines, like Google, AOL and Yahoo, have a simple process allowing you to set strict, moderate or no filter on your search engine to weed out explicit sexual content.

In a telephone survey conducted last year of 935 parents and teenagers — to be released in a coming report — the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that 53 percent of parents said they used filters and 45 percent said they used monitoring devices.

The survey also found that 50 percent of the teenagers thought that their parents were blocking Web sites, while 35 percent thought that they were being monitored.

Amanda Lenhart, a senior research specialist who oversaw the report, said in some cases the teenagers did not know their parents were snooping on them; in other cases they wrongly assumed their parents were using monitoring devices.

Installing a filter, however, is “not a silver bullet,”, Although they are usually fairly effective, bad stuff gets through, as my friend learned.

And although most of the opposition to blocking software is aimed at its use in public spaces like libraries and schools, some critics object in general to the technology. There are a myriad of reasons: it is censorship plain and simple; it leaves parents with a false sense of security; and by relying too much on technology, rather than education and supervision, children will be unprepared to deal with exposure to inappropriate content when it does eventually occur.

Neil Rubenking reviews filtering and monitoring software, the best filter, he said, is his own eyes and ears.

The war between parents and children over control of the Internet is mirrored in the technological world’s battles over filters and monitoring software; there are anti censorship Web sites like peacefire.org that show how to circumvent blocking software.

But of course, many filters now block the site.

So ultimately parents should use the filtering softwares but along with that they should use there own natural eyes and ears. Talking to there children on the issue would be a much better option. Be clean and clear. Crystal clear.


technoati tags: parental control over internet

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