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How could Google and other internet companies better help you better protect your children online? Your ideas needed please.

(78 Posts)
JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 09-Feb-10 11:02:59

It's Safer Internet Day 2010 today! So we thought we'd ask Mumsnet what you thought would help make your children safer online? We're going to sit down with the folks at Google in a few weeks to discuss what they might be able to do to help, so it would be great to be armed with your thoughts and experiences.

What is your biggest concern re your children's internet use? What, if any, safeguards/controls do you use? How do you rate them? What would you like in the way of online protection, in an ideal world?

Hopefully, collectively, we can come up with some ideas/solutions.

Thanks in advance.

LadyG Tue 09-Feb-10 19:29:38

Would love a 'kids google'( err koogle?) ie a search engine with toolbar you could download that only gave super safe options and was tailored towards children and educational sites.

MegSophandEmma Tue 09-Feb-10 19:35:42

LadyG I think that's a really good idea.

nickschick Tue 09-Feb-10 19:37:08

kidoogle grin

said Tue 09-Feb-10 19:38:24

What can Google do though? What are their capabilities on this?

As already stated, a lot of kids will open a facebook account at a friend's house. What can Google do about stuff liek that? I know the answer is nothing. I also don't get this watching everything your child posts/looks at on the computer business. It may be ok for younger/primary kids but it does start to get trickier as they get older. How much do you restrict their freedom? Do you just disable MSN and facebook completely and ride out their complaints? If not, how do you monitor it when they are capable of changing the settings so MSN chats are not saved/they use facebook chat etc so you're not actually able to monitor what they're saying?

I'd like facebook to be more vigilant rather than google. Block and ban kids.

MerlinsBeard Tue 09-Feb-10 19:54:21

It isn't illegal to lie about your age in order to open a facebook account or whatever, it;s just FB rules.

whomovedmychocolate Tue 09-Feb-10 19:55:32

I would like the ability through their Chrome browser to filter advertising according to age rating (because I don't want my three year old seeing adverts for bras - even if they do have Barbie on them hmm).

I'd like to apply adult content filtering to Gmail for les urchins for similar reasons.

I'd also like a count score on chat software so that if for example my child was spending a lot of time contacting someone through online chat it flagged it up for me if that person was not on a list of people I had approved for chat purposes.

A cache list of visited pages emailed to me sporadically and randomly for when my kids are older so they know that there is a chance mum will be aware of what they are up to.

I have a bit of a problem with the idea of preventing content though - if my 14 year old wanted to get info on STIs I would not want that blocked (I'd just want to know we needed to talk about it).

I think there is a market for hardware authentication keys to confirm ages of users on chatboards though, you never know who is really who online and kids do also abuse kids so it would be helpful to be able to prove that people are who they say they are online.

Finally, make a 'homework helper' part of Google which only returns scholarly stuff!


Quintessential12belowZero Tue 09-Feb-10 22:54:54

Google images should come with an age related filter.

my son googled underpants.


he got g strings and ladies bottoms. Some with quite open legs..... I dont want him to google somethign as innocent as underpants, and see a womans Tushie.

Likewise, I dont want him to miss spell Disney Fairies, as Disney Ferries (easily done if you are a child) and find hardcore porn, erect penises ejaculating, and male organs half way in a womans erm.... shaved pussy.
excuse my language.

which he did. Because he asked, mum, can I look at disney fairies, we looked at it in school. And I let him, because disney fairies is innocent. How were I to know he would make a spelling mistake when googling?

southeastastra Tue 09-Feb-10 22:59:05

my younger son's favourite site is youtube-generally he doesn't seem to come up with much unsuitable stuff

ds(16) - it's hard to say, i do let him look at whatever he wants and trust him. the pc is set to safe search.

i think it's very easy to give guidelines and monitor very young children with the internet.

the lines get blurry once they reach 16/17, what are the guidelines for that age?

Snorbs Tue 09-Feb-10 23:44:10

Quintessential12belowZero, Google Images has already got a filter - it's called SafeSearch. I just tried "underpants" and "disney ferries" in Google Images with SafeSearch set to Strict and I saw nothing particularly offensive.

Quintessential12belowZero Wed 10-Feb-10 07:06:39

good to know snorbs, I shall tell his teacher.....

MerlinsBeard Wed 10-Feb-10 08:42:24

It's tricky because I want my children to be able to look things up if they feel they can't ask. However, if they type 'sex' into google I don't want them to be able to access porn so it's a tricky one.

MrsForgetful Wed 10-Feb-10 08:50:42

DS3 (age 10) has been told by older kids to just 'lie' about his age when he joins in theory i supppose he could join ANY website. And unless i stand there constantly, i am powerless. some websites send 'confirmatuion emails' which i have to then click on a link to 'activate' the account- but not all (seems its the 'good/safe' websites that offer this...the bad ones are hardly going to give parents chance to opt out ...are they?)

I have installed Online Family Norton which is working allows you to block for example 'social and networking & chat' and 'porn' & 'gambling' etc...then IF there is a site he comes across that it blocks that HE wants to go on...Norton lets me view site- and overide filter if i am happy. (as sometimes it is a bit too strict!)
Also- it sends me emails everytime he clicks on sites that it has blocked. I have tried other 'parent contols' and this is the best so far.

MrsForgetful Wed 10-Feb-10 08:52:45

oh- it also logs the words that ds uses to search on start with he was trying 'sexy' words...but now he knows it will 'tell' me...or block him...he has stopped trying

(BTW...his 'level' of sexy words were bum,willy and boobs!)

Snorbs Wed 10-Feb-10 10:05:00

Another issue with trying to solve this social issue technologically is this - who gets to decide which are "age-appropriate" websites and which aren't?

Google may have a corporate motto of "Don't be evil" but a predominantly US company's view of what is "evil" may not match mine.

Rhubarb Wed 10-Feb-10 10:27:22

I think social networking sites need to ensure that tougher rules are in place to prevent people from setting up fake profiles. I don't even think you need to go into your email to confirm it, you just give them any old email address - so long as it looks legitimate - and away you go.

They also need to ensure that settings are set to strict privacy by default. At the moment the default settings are very public.

Tighter control over groups on facebook. There are animal sex groups and allsorts - I know this because the 12yo dd of my boss was targeted by bullies. They did a fake profile for her, used Meredith Kercher's picture and joined her up to animal sex groups and groups called "I like little girls" etc.

If they can spend so much money and time on tracking down people who download illegal movies and music then surely they can track down those people tho abuse children? Or is there no financial incentive for them to do that?

Google's settings should also be set to the highest levels by default. Many parents have no idea that they can change the Google settings, hence when your child types in something innocuous in Google images like 'Red Riding Hood' they could be confronted with pornographic images.

What does it take to ensure all settings are high by default? It takes no time at all and it would seriously help.

But as usual, it's all about making money and our childrens safety comes second in the hunt for more and yet more wealth.

isnowsoonenough Wed 10-Feb-10 10:39:59

I agree Rhubarb. Campaign for the defaults to be set to high.

Bramshott Wed 10-Feb-10 12:32:14

Is there a way of making the filtering more intelligent? I originally tried to set all our filtering options to "strict", but there were so many sites that got blocked (Sealed Knot re-enactment Society for example) that I ended up changing it back again!

ByThePowerOfGreyskull Wed 10-Feb-10 14:44:36

Google could block sites that they KNOW have illegal content.
I found one by accident last week and I reported it to the internet watch foundation, only to find that it has been known about for along time.
A chat room , like mn, but for paedophiles. sad hideous, DO NOT PROMOTE IT GOOGLE!!!!!!!!!!!

MsFire Wed 10-Feb-10 14:51:46

I would like the setting on all computers/search engines to have a default setting for porn of OFF. I loathe the way there is a running tap of porn coming into every home. And you have to be a virtual techno genius or stand over yr child ever moment they are on line to stop it.

If porn was set to default OFF, you would have to actively search for how to switch it on. And parents would be alert to their children doing this.

Can someone please explain how to set Google to safe search cos this is all becoming an issue with my teenager....

Rhubarb Wed 10-Feb-10 14:52:52

That's exactly what I mean, you complain and no-one takes any action. They mumble something about freedom of expression and censorship.

Yet you get someone downloading music illegal or playstation games and they can't close the sites down fast enough!

Because they lose money with one you see, and they gain money with another. Guess which is which.

Rhubarb Wed 10-Feb-10 14:56:13

MsFire, if it's a teenager we are talking about then you are better off buying a filter.

But you can create a separate account for your teen - go into Start and Control Panel and in there it allows you to creat another user. You can also then go into that user and change all the settings to high. It gives you that option when creating the user I think. But basically to into the internet, then click on Tools - Internet Options. In Security put all the settings on high.

Now in Google there will be a small link to the side of google saying 'search preferences', click on this and change all the preferences to the highest settings.

Snorbs Wed 10-Feb-10 15:13:36

"That's exactly what I mean, you complain and no-one takes any action. They mumble something about freedom of expression and censorship.

Yet you get someone downloading music illegal or playstation games and they can't close the sites down fast enough!"

That's simply not true. Where possible the peadophile sites are shut down faster than anything else. And I suggest you look at how long the Pirate Bay was up and running before claiming that such sites get shut down faster than peadophilia sites.

The big problem, though, is one of jurisdiction. If site X contravenes UK law then UK police can do something about it if it's a UK site or it's hosted in a different country that has appropriate legal agreements with the UK. If it's hosted in a country that couldn't care less for our laws, there's not much the UK police can do about it.

Again we've got people here complaining of the alleged impossibility of keeping an eye on what your children do on-line. It's not difficult. They're on the computer, you keep an eye on what they're up to. Software and filtering can't replace good parenting decisions.

Rhubarb Wed 10-Feb-10 16:01:37

Really? How do you explain this then?

"Google could block sites that they KNOW have illegal content.
I found one by accident last week and I reported it to the internet watch foundation, only to find that it has been known about for along time.
A chat room , like mn, but for paedophiles. hideous, DO NOT PROMOTE IT GOOGLE!!!!!!!!!!!" from bythepowerofgreyskull.

And during the online chat with the woman from ChildNet a poster called somebodiesmum detailed her 13yo having pornographic images of her on the internet STILL despite her mother complaining to everyone she can. The UK police just shrugged and said there was nothing they could do because apparently the 13yo instigated it herself shock

And what about when you report Facebook fake profiles and groups? And no action is taken? Or fake Twitter accounts that tries to get girls mobile numbers and again nothing is done?

The UK and USA police are happy to co-operate when they are trying to crack illegal downloaders or hackers. But when it comes to child pornography it's up to the ISP?

Google could do more, facebook could do more, all networking sites could do more. The reason they don't is a question of money.

Snorbs Wed 10-Feb-10 16:34:55

Google already has a mechanism for people to identify which sites you think they should block. It's here.

I didn't see the post from somebodiesmum so I can't really comment on that.

What about when you report fake Facebook and/or Twitter profiles? I've never done it so I don't know what happens or what you expect to happen. But what's that got to do with either Google or the police?

The UK and USA police already co-operate on child porn, as do ISPs and search providers such as Google, Yahoo and Microsoft. More so than they do with illegal downloaders or hackers as they're more typically civil offences rather than criminal ones, particularly in the US (Gary McKinnon excepted as he went after US Govt sites). But it does no good if the US and UK police co-operate on a child porn investigation if the server is somewhere they have no jurisdiction. All they can do then is go after the recipients (as they have done and continue to do, of course).

Rhubarb Wed 10-Feb-10 16:49:13

Well perhaps Google would like to explain how a child abuse chat room that greyskull complained about, was known about and is STILL on Google I presume - greyskull you still around?

Facebook and Twitter have nothing to do with Google but the thread asked about other internet companies.

Search for somebodiesmum on the thread about ChildNet for the full story. Very shocking that the authorities just seem to have washed their hands of it, the police didn't want to know at all. And according to the OP, images of her dd are still freely available in the US and on some ISPs here in the UK.

It should not be up to parents. Many parents have no idea how to change internet settings, they don't use the internet themselves. But they are under pressure by schools and others to allow their children access to the internet.

What does it take really to make all the default settings high? Yes us parents do have a responsibility for our children, but if you, as a parent, don't understand the internet, how can you?

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