A minority of parents are still failing to take advantage of web filtering technology, leaving their kids exposed to the dangers of Cyberspace
Internet content filters are increasingly seen as essential security tools for families with kids and teens.
As America’s parents wake up to the need to take an active role in protecting their children online, the most recent research into kids’ internet use reveals that 54% of families with teens now employ some form of web filtering solution on their home computer(s). This equates to 12 million households, representing a 65% increase over a 5-year period.
With teenagers becoming ever more active on the Internet, parents are turning to technological means of controlling web use to back up existing safety strategies, aware of the need for multilayered child protection in an increasingly threatening online world.
The explosion in blogging, instant messaging and social-networking websites means it is no longer feasible to manage teens’ internet use through traditional measures such as household rules and hands-on parental supervision.
The Myspace generation demands a more technical, round-the-clock approach to online security, with internet content filters and monitoring software offering parents the peace of mind they crave.
Unsurprisingly, it is the more internet-savvy parents who are most switched-on to the benefits of content filtering. A 2005 Pew Internet study reported that parents who go online daily are over 10% more likely to employ web filters than those who are less familiar with the Internet.
While the findings represent a breakthrough in online security for kids, concern remains for the 46% of young Americans whose Internet use is not protected by the safety buffer that filters provide.
Experts offer two possible explanations for the continued refusal of this large minority of households to embrace web filtering software.
Firstly, despite saturation media coverage of a whole spectrum of internet nasties – from pernicious and pornographic website content through to the growing threat posed by cyber predators – many parents still lack a real understanding of the dangers their children face online.
In the other case, this lack of Net-savvy manifests itself in an inability to get to grips with the software. Internet filters can be difficult to install and use, and this is a problem given that customized installation is an important factor when it comes to filter performance.
Kids’ online safety will be enhanced by a new generation of web filtering software that addresses this issue, combining powerful functionality with ease-of-use.