A huge bulk of information on the Internet contains inappropriate or objectionable material like pornographic content, classified information, and provocative text or images.
Research has shown that most crimes in the developed world are linked to Internet use. Watching or reading objectionable material can be extremely harmful to the health and safety of your children and loved ones, and it is your responsibility to save them from this destructive content.
Due to the openly-distributed nature of the Internet, it is very difficult for individuals (and even governments) to fully block a website. This is where parental control features can help you.
“Parental control” refers to special features that can be added to mobile phones, computer software, televisions, video games, and other electronic devices.
The basic purpose of parental control features is to limit access to certain information, for surveillance and security reasons. Almost all internet security programs, such as antivirus software, have a parental control feature in them.
Norton is an antivirus product from Symantec Corporation, and it has one of the best and most advanced parental control features. Similarly, other antivirus software like Bit Defender and Kaspersky Internet Security, and operating systems like Windows 7, Linux, Windows Vista, and Mac OS X have parental control features in them.
There are several ways to implement these features. For example, to block a website on your computer, you can add that website to a blocked list on your operating system or in antivirus software. Standalone parental control programs are also available. These programs can block any website from opening on your computer.
The parental control software can block or monitor the API, in order to scrutinize Internet applications like web browsers or chatting software. You can also protect your confidential information from being displayed on the Internet by adding specific keywords, such as passwords and pin codes, to your blocked database.
The parental control software will monitor a chat window and can intervene to block the flow of information upon finding a match in the banned database. The parental control software has self-protection modules and uses passwords to prevent unauthorized access. Based on how they function, we can classify parental controls into four categories.
- Content Filters
- Usage Controls
- Computer Usage Monitoring Tools
Now, let us briefly discuss each of these categories.
Content filters are the most popular and basic type of parental control. Content filters simply block access to a website based on its content. Specific websites and content phrases are stored in a database, and upon finding a matching entry, access is blocked. Content filters can block images and even media files. Content controls can also be applied on digital televisions to limit access to certain channels.
Usage controls are more technical and sophisticated filters. They can be used with computers, televisions, automobiles, or music players. You can turn your television, computer, or Internet off at a certain time, or control the volume of a music player. Similarly, you can control the speed of your child’s car from miles away and know exactly where he or she is.
Computer Usage Monitoring Tools:
Computer usage monitoring tools are specifically designed for computers. They are often incorporated inside an internet security suite or an antivirus program, though standalone versions are also available. Such features are also available in operating systems such as Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Mac OS X. These programs are used to block websites, protect privacy, and prevent leakage of confidential information.
Surveillance programs have the same capabilities as spyware. Their basic purpose is to keep a record of all the activities performed on a machine. Surveillance programs are standalone software that can be installed on any machine. For example, parents have the authority to monitor their kids’ activities if they are under 18, and above that age by their consent.
Surveillance programs include keyloggers and monitoring tools (how-to-secure-computer). These programs are designed to operate in stealth mode. They record all the activities that are being performed on a machine and make a log file of them, which can be viewed later by the administrator, or e-mailed on his ID.
Most antivirus and internet security programs consider keyloggers and monitoring bots as spyware; you must be legally eligible to install such software on a machine.
Parental control features are also available for mobile phones and automobiles.