Both of the solutions below need to take place on a local scale and can’t or shouldn’t be regulated/implemented by the Government – you must implement them yourself;
There are two main ways of restricting internet access using web-addresses – blacklisting and whitelisting. The DNS filtering we discussed above generally uses a blacklist of ‘banned’ sites.
The problem with blacklisting is that there are just too many sites to add, it would take years of research just to get a basic list. Even then you’d probably miss more than you’d catch.
A whitelist is more restrictive but uses a more sensible question – which sites do you want to allow access to? Any site not listed on the whitelist is blocked by default, which can be really annoying but does ensure that your kid only sees content approved by you.
Setting up a whitelist can be achieved in a number of ways, including within the browser itself. You need to choose the technology you use carefully to ensure your kid doesn’t have the ability to disable/bypass it.
You could opt to use dedicated hardware to manage your whitelist, which would make it harder to tamper with. There are also companies that provide a service similar to OpenDNS but utilising a whitelist based system.
It should be reasonably clear why the Government shouldn’t be allowed to implement a whitelist based system; to do so without infringing freedom of speech would be impossible!
The tried and tested method to date is to be sat near your kid when they are on the Internet. Don’t give them access in their room, and ensure they PC is in a very public area.
Talk to them about the dangers of the internet; warn them that certain areas are far from savoury and that you don’t want them actively seeking these things out. Follow up on your rules, and don’t undermine them by having your own porn stash on the PC!
Monitor their usage (you can even get software to keep a log of what they view), but understand that ultimately if they want to find it, there is nothing that either you, the Government or your Internet Service Provider can do to stop it.
Not talking to your kids about this issue is one of the worst things you can do, sooner or later it’s likely they’ll either develop an interest or manage to stumble upon just the kind of material you were trying to shield them from. Recently there was a story about a teenager researching his chemistry homework; quite naively (as he didn’t know any better) he ran a websearch on the word bondage from a school computer!
You very rarely stumble on pornography by accident, but because of the naivety of childhood kids don’t realise that some of these phrases are double entendres. Talking to them about these issues is the only thing you can do, because pornography is never going to go away.
Ultimately, the Internet is an adult area and children need to be supervised when entering that world. Whatever your feelings on pornography as a whole, a lot of the technology you take for granted came about because the porn companies were the only ones so see a commercial advantage in pursuing development – In the days when the Internet was still a hobbyists playground, porn sites were some of the few commercial entities that had a web presence.
How many of those reading this saw porn before the Internet? People used to leave their magazines lying around at bus stops and similar places, it may be more readily available but it’s always been there. Only good parenting can counteract any perceived damage that exposure may cause.