Child Safety Online

So, the government are to create an organisation to “improve children’s safety online”. Not that there isn’t already a plethora of such groups around and even a government backed one is unlikely to have “teeth”. You see, they don’t have a choice really – people demand something to be done, so they have to be seen doing something. But the internet, all free speech and open access (except China, of course), isn’t designed for you to be able to. Maybe they can shut down some websites in the UK, and only when they’re breaking UK laws, but that’s about it. Other than that they’re likely to be full of pamphlets and online guides.

But that doesn’t make the internet a lawless zone for kids – there is plenty of excellent software around which assists with monitoring and restricting what they see and do. It would be wonderful if Windows came with this as standard, but it won’t. You see, if Microsoft includes any new software where there’s already a market, they’re accused of anti-competitive practice, fined, and told to remove it.

But there’s a thriving market for file searching software – why, for example, is Windows allowed to have such a facility as standard? Or a file manager? Well it seems to me that if Windows has had it all along and these companies have survived anyway, then that’s acceptable. But if Microsoft try to add something – such as child safety software – then the existing companies will cry foul and court orders will begin. It’s very sad and very restrictive. I’m sure many parents are unaware of very good, free child protection software that’s available.

A few that immediately spring to mind are…

Windows Live OneCare Family Safety
Crawler Parental Control
Sentry Lite
K9 Web Protection

I’m sure there are many more. And for not a huge amount of money there are even better commercial products available. Many are US-centric which can be an issue, so it’s worthwhile giving them a trial first.

CyberPatrol is one such which, although I had a fall-out with them, I’d recommend.


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