Empowering children on-line: big challenges ahead of parents and software producers
Results of SIP Bench III reveal that parental control tools are slightly improving but filtering user-generated content remains a challenge. European Commission project released results of its first testing cycle and provided parents with a searchable database so that they can find a tool that best fits their needs.
SIP BENCH III - Benchmarking of parental control tools - is a third edition of study financed under Safer Internet Programme. Project experts test parental control tools against four criteria: functionality, effectiveness, security and usability.
Results of the first benchmarking cycle show that while most of the tools tested enable parents to block access to harmful websites, they are less efficient at filtering web 2.0 content (such as social networking sites or blogs). User-generated content (mainly Facebook and YouTube) represents a real challenge both for parents and software producers as traditional filtering techniques fail to achieve good results. In the meantime, increasing number of children and teenagers use social media in their everyday lives.
The most common issue regarding security is by-passing the filters via Google Translate and Google Cache. Security is also a weak point of mobile devices. Although there are more parental control tools for the mobile devices, they still fail to filter properly and are very easy to by-pass. All tested tools achieve better results when filtering English language content.
SIP BENCH III provides parents and teachers with a searchable database where they can find a filter that best fits their needs. Each family has different needs and parents have different level of computer literacy - says Natalia Mielech, SIP BENCH III project manager - Therefore, we offer them an easy-to-use tool and set of recommendations on children’s online safety.
Tests results show that tools offer better features but there is no perfect tool - added Natalia Mielech -Recent cases of cyberbullying show that empowering children online seems to be a real challenge for the parents but it has already become a key element of responsible parenting.