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As ISPs debate methods of preventing children seeing unsuitable content online, Simplifydigital.com reviews parental control options currently available to worried parents

Recent Ofcom research reveals a very rapid increase in internet access in children's bedrooms and a subsequent huge jump in unsupervised internet access. According to the research over 35 per cent of kids aged 12-15 and nearly 20 per cent of 8-11s have broadband access in their bedrooms.

By on October 27, 2011 at 11:12 AM
Press
Broadband
As ISPs debate methods of preventing children seeing unsuitable content online, Simplifydigital.com reviews parental control options currently available to worried parents

The effect of broadband access in kids' rooms is that understandably a lot of kids' internet surfing is undertaken unsupervised. 

Ofcom data suggests that 60 per cent of 12-15s and one third of 8-11s say they use the internet mostly on their own.  Scarier still, one in five 5-year-olds claim to use the internet without an adult in the room. 

Ofcom research also shows that 70 per cent of parents with children aged 12-15 who use the internet at home think they know less about the internet than their children.
As a result, the latest available data from Ofcom shows that less than 50 per cent of parents whose children use the internet at home say they have internet controls or filtering software in place.

Charlie Ponsonby, CEO of Ofcom accredited broadband comparison service, Simplifydigital.com, commented: 

"The internet is so helpful from an educational perspective, that it is not surprising that parents allow broadband access in children's bedrooms, but the amount of unsupervised internet access with no parental control whatsoever, is scary."   

The current parental control debate

Following lobbying by the Mothers Union, the government is proposing a new "porn filter" approach (also known as a "filtered feed" system), whereby the big ISPs would offer the option of removing access to sexualised imagery at source (rather than parental controls applied within the home).

The four biggest ISPs, BT, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Sky, together account for over 17.5m of 19.2m broadband customers.  They are yet to come to an agreement as to how such a proposal might be implemented, although most plan to offer a wholly new contract option for prospective customers, that offers the filtered feed system.  In the meantime, it is up to parents to do more to protect their children.


Protecting children online
There are two key areas that parents should think about to help ensure a safe online experience for their children:  educating children about the pitfalls of surfing the web (for example, making sure they understand the implications of giving out personal details) and using parental control technology is available with most broadband packages but can also be bought off the shelf.

Charlie Ponsonby continued: 

"With little effort, parents can make their children's internet experience far safer, even if children are using the internet unsupervised.  All parents should educate their children about the pitfalls of the web, and should also consider using "parental control" software to control their children's web access."

 

Simplifydigital.com's 5 step guide to improving your child's safety online

1.    Make sure you are involved with your children's internet usage.  Ask them what sort of sites are their favourites and what their friends like to do.  Discuss with them that the internet contains "good" and "bad" content and they should take care where they go online.
2.    Teach your children the basic "rules" of internet use - they should never  give out personal details such as their name, address, school and telephone numbers to online friends they don't know in person; and they should never to respond to junk email or open attachments that are from people they don't know.
3.    Stay aware of any changes in the way they use the internet, such as the amount of time they spend online.
4.    Use the "history" function on the internet browser from time to time, to check which websites that your children have been using.
5.    Best of all, install Parental Control software which comes free with many broadband packages, if not it can be bought off the shelf.  The software is very easy to install and allows you to block access to certain sites, or conversely define a "walled garden" of sites that are accessible.

 

Choosing the best broadband package with children in mind

Many of the broadband providers offer parental control software for free, or for little extra cost.   An impartial broadband comparison service such as Simplifydigital.com can help you make your choice.  Simplifydigital.com is accredited by Ofcom and has experts available for free to recommend that best packages from a parental control point of view.

Simplifydigital.com's pick of child friendly broadband packages
Provider Package overview Available parental control Set-up Monthly Cost
Simplifydigital recommended! TalkTalk TalkTalk Essentials • Up to 24 Mb Speed • 40 GB download allowance • Free Evening & Weekend Calls to UK landlines • HomeSafe includes network level protection for all of the devices connected to TalkTalk broadband. • A website filter blocks harmful content and homework times can be set to block social networking and similar sites during specific hours. Free £5 for 12 months, £6.50 thereafter (plus £13.80 line rental)
Plusnet Plusnet Value & Evening and Weekend Calls • Up to 20 Mb Speed • 10 GB download allowance • Free Evening and Weekend calls to UK landlines • Plusnet's Parental Control powered by McAfee enables specific content to be blocked, tools to manage time children spend online and a facility to alert parents when children attempt to access restricted content. Free £6.49 (plus £11.99 line rental)
BT BT Broadband & Evening and Weekend Calls • Up to 20 Mb Speed • 10 GB download allowance • Free Evening and Weekend calls to UK landlines BT's Family Protection powered by McAfee enables specific content to be blocked, tools to manage time children spend online and a facility to alert parents when children attempt to access restricted content. Free £4 for 4 months, £13 thereafter (plus £10 line rental)*
Sky Broadband Unlimited and SkyTalk Freetime • Up to 20 Mb Speed • Unlimited download allowance • Free Evening and Weekend calls to UK landlines • Sky's Parental Controls powered by McAfee is free 12 months and £3 per month thereafter. The software enables specific content to be blocked and manage time children spend online. £25 £10 (plus £12.25 line rental)

 

Notes to editors

Simplifydigital.com offers a free and impartial "Switching Support" service for anyone looking to get a digital TV, broadband or phone package. Its London-based impartial experts are available for free over the phone, to answer all those tricky questions and match the family's needs to the best deal available. Simplifydigital.com's experts are available for free on 0800 1 388 388 seven days a week (Lines open Mon-Fri 8am-8pm; Saturday 9am-5:30pm; Sunday 10-5:30pm). You can also use Simplifydigital.com's Ofcom accredited comparison engine online at www.simplifydigital.com.

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