Internet safety - A guide to online content control

Our guide to different kinds of online safety and content censorship.

The internet provides a whole range of content, from educational materials to social media interaction. However, some websites contain content which is not supposed to be seen by young people, so we take a look at the ways that the internet can be censored and controlled by you, the home broadband user, as well as some measures that are already in place.

Age restricted websites

To give broadband users peace of mind, many websites have now introduced age restrictions to deter young people from accessing certain pages.

Across online TV channels, selected programmes also have an age restriction warning, with some websites, such as 4oD, offering a PIN system to protect young users. This allows users to take control of which programmes are age appropriate and can be edited or removed at any time.

This kind of safety control can be a convenient way to keep young and ‘online vulnerable’ people protected.

Parental control

Internet safety tools have been developed to make sure everyone can have an enjoyable web browsing experience.
Broadband providers, including TalkTalk and BT, offer free parental control security with their internet packages, which protects against threats and inappropriate websites.

TalkTalk’s HomeSafe® has adjustable settings to suit everyone’s broadband habits. Kid Safe offers website categories that you can select to block at all times, to avoid certain content being accessed. Homework Time is also a useful feature, where time limits can be set on social networking and gaming websites, minimising distraction.

Illegal downloading

In February and November 2013, the High Court ordered UK ISPs, or internet service providers, to automatically block a number of torrent sites, to protect against copyright infringement. Websites such as PrimeWire, Project Free TV, The Pirate Bay and TorrentFreak are just a few of the controversial file-sharing websites barred by some of the UK’s broadband providers.

By law, if you knowingly download and share pirate copies of TV shows, films or music, you are committing a criminal offence.

BT, Sky, Virgin Media, TalkTalk, O2 and EE are the broadband providers that have received and complied with order.  Any attempt by a broadband customer to access these sites is met with a message explaining that the site is blocked indefinitely.

Many of these websites make money through extensive advertising, and in several cases the advertising is particularly unsuitable for children or teenagers, making the block all the more essential.

Cyber bullying

In today’s modern world, almost everyone uses the internet on a daily basis, to communicate and upload material. Unfortunately, there is a small fraction of the online community that target individuals and make them a victim of cyber bullying. Blackmail, threats, offensive images and videos are just a few examples of cyber bullying.

Predominantly, social networking sites are prone to these kinds of online bullying due to their ‘sociable’ intent. Most social media websites have an age restriction, but without adult supervision, young people can imply they are older than they really are to join them.

With broadband being so widely available, there are a few ways to avoid and stop cyber bullying. These include blocking any offending user, reporting the abuse to the website administrator and adjusting privacy settings.

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