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Shielding kids from Internet porn

Internet porn and its appalling visibility rates have always been a topic discussed with much interest worldwide. The ethical strains of the issue still stay debatable while there would be no denying that what has been done to shield children from the perils of porn on the Net, is not enough.

There have been commendable efforts by individuals and organisations towards facilitating a shield for families to guard children from Net porn

WiseChoice.Net is one such effort. And a compact one at that. Here, all the filtering takes place on the servers and not on the computer. Every time an Internet address is typed in, a link is clicked on or a word is searched for, the address or the word is routed to computers where it is checked against the Wisechoice's block list.

If the request made is not on the list, the browser proceeds to the requested site. If otherwise, you get a message stating the requested site has been blocked. The whole process takes less than a second once it reaches the Internet.

With Wisechoice, the browsers don't even have to do monthly downloads, constant monitoring or rating sites.

Whether to filter the content your kid is accessing or not is obviously based on your personal convictions and values. Many filters have already hit the market, with provisions ranging from keeping history off accessed content to blocking access to chat and undesirable content.

Services like America Online and other Internet Service Providers allow parents to block certain services. However, it goes without saying that a better option would always be taking a close look at your kid's Internet habits.

Different filtering tools operate in different fashions. Certain tools limit access to a specific list of websites classified as "inappropriate." While some companies pick what should be filtered, others let parents do it, among pre-set categories.

Some companies operate by employing people to look at and classify web pages into categories that a parent may or may not choose to block.

Certain filtering tools limit access to sites containing key words like "breast." There are also tools which block only the bad words and not the text surrounding them. Some filters apply to websites, others to e-mail, chat and instant messaging, newsgroups, or a combination.

There are also tools which analyse the language around key words to avoid blocking combination of words like "breast cancer".

Net Nanny: Net Nanny claims that it will protect children and free speech on the Net. It also advertises that due to its filters, Net Nanny will ensure on-line safety for user. Cybersitter: Solid Oak's CYBERsitter claims to offer the safest way to explore cyberspace, for its users. It also claims to have by far the most technologically advanced filtering product on the market due to its use of an intelligent content recognition system, which recognises even brand new sites. Because of these technological advances, CYBERsitter is "guaranteed to block over 95 per cent of all objectionable content".

Cyber Patrol: Cyber Patrol advertises itself as the best way to manage children's computer use and safety on the Net. It claims that all sites on its blocked list are reviewed by a team of Internet professionals, including parents and teachers. Cyber Patrol further claims that all blocked sites have been reviewed by human eyes.

SurfWatch: SurfWatch claims that more than eight million copies of its product have been downloaded, thus making it the most popular, trusted product for harnessing the positive potential of the Internet. Its mission statement notes, "We empower people with the information, technology, and tools they need to harness the positive potential of the Internet." With a blocked site list of more than 100,000 URLs, it claims to be 90-95 per cent effective in blocking objectionable sites, and due to its team of professional web surfers the product will always remain up to date. SurfWatch also advertises that all blocked sites are seen by human eyes, and that difficult decisions are referred to an Advisory Committee of parents, professionals, teachers, law enforcement, clergy and community members.

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