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Parents not aware of risks of Internet use
Wednesday 21 July 2004 11:38:00 by Andrew Ferguson

BBC News Online has published details of a study on childrens Internet access from the home by the London School of Economics. The report can be read on the UK Children Go Online Website. The report highlights the fact that 57% had seen net porn, but most have seen it accidentally or via spam and pop-up ads.

This perhaps highlights a problem for the current generation of adults, in that children are avid users of the Internet for both research and social interaction. Reports like this often produce widespread calls for the Internet to be policed and monitored, for example the calls for Internet chat rooms to be closed. Unfortunately the Internet is much too large for actions like this to produce the result people want, and there is the risk that politicians/companies could take wide sweeping controls too far, and start to close down sites they simply do not agree with.

A great deal of responsibility does lie with the parents. With television in the UK, it is generally safe to let children watch what they want up until around the 9pm watershed, but the Internet is an area with no such time restrictions. For those parents wanting to shield their children from adult material, software like NetNanny can help, and there is even one ISP which offers a filtered Internet feed, CleanFeed. Some ADSL routers offer site blocking abilities and time controlled application blocking, but very few offer options for a 'whitelist' of approved sites, which would be much easier for a parent to administer.


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