UK child protection charity the NSPCC this week published research into children’s online porn-viewing habits. The results are shocking. One in ten 12-13 year olds are worried they are addicted to porn. This goes beyond children stumbling across inappropriate content, though could be how the addiction started.
Tackling the issue head-on, the NSPCC has published advice for parents and calls on the government to educate children in the dangers of online porn. It notes that its discussion forums on the subject get 18,000 hits per month. You can see its advice here.
There is no silver bullet to tackling this issue. Your approach will depend on your child. A two-way conversation with them to educate them to the dangers is as important as using technology to limit the risks.
So, from a technical perspective, what can you do to protect your children from online porn? The simplest measure is to activate parental controls on your internet security software. This will take two minutes, but will protect your child for years.
How do parental controls work?
Parental controls are a very useful way to adapt a smartphone, tablet or computer’s settings to only allow content and usage which you, as a parent, feel are appropriate.
F-Secure’s parental controls start with giving parents the option to choose settings which are appropriate for either a teenager or a younger child. These allow different categories content. For example, it’s unlikely you would want a child of any age viewing information about dating, gambling, drugs, violence or porn – so these are blocked by default (but can be unblocked if you wish). However, teens are not automatically blocked from using email and social networking.
Time-limits are a very useful tool to curb the amount of time a child spends on different applications on their smartphone or tablet each day. You may choose to only allow an hour of time of Facebook, compared to unlimited access to Wikipedia. On our desktop version, you can also set homework time, by only allowing access to educational sites during certain times of the day when you know your child should be working and are worried about online distractions. There is also the capability to set the amount of time the child can spend online for that week – a particularly useful tool during school holidays.
For mobile phones, call blocker is a handy tool for parents of children who are being bullied. Incoming calls from specific phones numbers can be blocked, meaning the dialler will receive an engaged tone and then disconnection, with no option to leave a message. Numbers can be added to this blacklist from the incoming call register or the contacts database. Parents can also gain access to the list of blocked calls which have been received.
Locate, lock and wipe
Our anti-theft feature means a phone can be located when lost – or when a parent wants to check on their child’s location. Of course, this should form part of an open discussion with the child, so they are aware of the phone’s capability. It also means that, should a phone be stolen or lost, the phone can be locked and the data deleted remotely, meaning it can’t fall into the wrong hands.
Our parental controls are password-based, which means they can’t be circumvented by a tech-savvy child. Of course, the password needs to be strong for this to work, but that’s another blog post!
[Image via Leonid Mamchenkov | Flickr]
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