Keeping Kids Safe from Inappropriate Content
The internet is an amazing thing, a channel through which we can access countless sources of an incredibly diverse pool of information kids safe in all forms. All we have to do is reach out for it and it floods our eyes and ears instantly – and without filters. That’s not an issue for adults – we form our own filters as we age, we learn to seek out the things we want to and ignore the rest. Kids, in turn, who are yet to learn to choose between appropriate content and chaff need our help to navigate the murky waters of the internet.
Parents are the ones who can help kids avoid being exposed to things they’re not supposed to access. And parents have allies online that can help them in this important task: parental controls at the biggest content providers.
Setting what TV channels your kid can watch is easy – doing the same on the internet is much harder. There’s a difference between a kid accidentally switching to a TV channel where they are exposed to inappropriate content and a kid actively seeking out similar content online based on hearsay or exposure through social media, for example. This is where parental control settings come into the picture.
All major content providers have at least some form of parental control. The content is rated based on a set of parameters and put into categories, and parents can decide which category is appropriate for their child.
This is easy in the case of Netflix, for example. The new parental control features at Netflix can filter content based on the content’s ESRB Rating. YouTube has a much harder job to do. First of all, the sheer quantity of videos uploaded to the platform is huge. Second, the videos are coming from literally everywhere, from every corner of the globe, covering everything from birthdays and video games to weapons and bad language – or worse.
Are built-in controls reliable?
Most of the time they are – but as we pointed out before, a lot depends on the content delivery platform. Relying on their content filters can be, in turn, insufficient at times. As they grow, kids become proficient at technology and acquire the ability to access alternative channels and to circumvent built-in filters.
There are many services through which parents can control what their children can access online – these are especially effective when the kids are still young, using devices at home. There are services that offer parents control over their kids’ internet consumption at various levels, from blocking access to certain websites to preventing the kids from installing certain apps on their computers and their phones. Some of these features are built into operating systems, others are offered by third-parties, and are subscription-based. But they are worth it, considering how much trauma certain pieces of content can cause online