According to Ofcom, over a third of children aged 12 to 15 have
unsupervised web access in their bedrooms and over 60% say they use
the web "mostly on their own". The same is true for
younger age groups too, with one in five just 8 to11 year olds
saying they have web access in their bedrooms and more than a third
saying they go online "mostly on their own".
However, half of all those parents whose children use the internet
at home do not currently have internet controls or filtering
software in place. And the issue of parental controls is not
limited to internet access at home via PCs and laptops. Research
shows that a third of children aged 12 to 17 use their mobile
phones to surf social networking sites, while the hacking problems
encountered by Sony demonstrates the growing popularity of
interactive game consoles and the risks of sharing information
So what sort of security should parents have in place and what
questions should they be asking before choosing a broadband
Simplifydigital.com, the Ofcom accredited broadband, home phone
and digital TV comparison service (www.simplifydigital.com) tells
you all you need to know.
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" stuff and they should take care where they go
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 neither should they 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 your children have been using.
5. Choose a broadband package with suitable security and parental
control features. If your broadband package does not come
with these features, software can be bought off the shelf. It's
easy to install and allows you to filter chat and instant
messaging; block web access at certain times; block access to
certain sites, or conversely define a "walled garden" of sites that
are accessible; and track usage with an activity log.
Simplifydigital.com's No 1 recommended broadband package
for security - TalkTalk Essentials
TalkTalk, the UK's second largest broadband provider, has just
launched HomeSafe, which is free to all TalkTalk customers and is
the UK's first "network-level broadband security service". It is
clever in that it provides protection for every device in the home
(not just your PC). It has three different features:
* Virus Alerts to block web pages
infected with malware, to protect users' computers and other
* KidsSafe parental controls - allows the
account holder to block the content they don't want to be accessed
through their connectionHomework Time - this is a nice feature
which allows parents to block social networking sites like Facebook
and online gaming during homework time
TalkTalk Essentials costs £3.25 per month (12 months half price)
and £6.50 thereafter, excluding line rental. HomeSafe is
The best of the rest - our pick of other good broadband packages
with security in mind
The other leading broadband providers charge for security,
except in the case of their top packages:
Plusnet offers Plusnet Protect in association with McAfee.
It is free for customers taking Plusnet's Extra broadband package,
but it costs £2 per month for customers taking Value broadband.
Plusnet Protect offers website filtering that can be tailored to
the age of the children and/or by the genre of the content that
should be blocked. Similar to TalkTalk's HomeSafe, a browsing
schedule can be allocated in order to specify the amount of time
spent on the internet.
Sky Broadband also offers an McAfee Internet Security Suite.
It is free for 12 months for customers taking Unlimited broadband,
but £3 per month for customers taking Broadband Everyday Lite after
the first three months.
BT Family Protection (powered by McAfee) is free for all
customers. Filtering is available by age/genre content and access
for messenger services can also be set. A timetable for browsing
can be set as well as notifications when blocked website access is
attempted and when confidential information is posted.
Virgin Media (Cable): Virgin Media Security is available to
download from a customer's account page for as many computers as
they need. Controls can be set to limit genre content as well as
block the use of instant messaging tools such as MSN messenger.
Both of these blocks can be combined with a schedule in order to
schedule selected periods in which access is restricted.
Other good information sources about security and parental control
* Ofcom (www.ofcom.org.uk) has a lot of helpful
information on internet security
* Websites such as CEOP's www.thinkuknow.co.uk
or tel: 08700 0003344) and The UK Safer Internet Centre.
Understanding the dangers of cyberbullying will help you keep your
child safe online. There's help and support available at
CyberMentors, tel: 0208 771 3377; ChildLine, tel: 0800 1111; and
Childnet International, tel: 020 7639 6967.
Notes to editors
* Simplifydigital.com data based on 1,538 records between Jan 1st
to Nov 8th 2010
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.