Working Towards Creating a Safer Internet
Kids are practically born with screens in their hands and will never know a world where they can’t swipe, post a selfie, or watch TV on any device with a screen. With this level of access, it’s important to equip kids with the knowledge and understanding of appropriate online behavior and how to manage their digital reputations, while also giving them the ability to combat and evade online dangers like cyberbullying, risky social media sites, and cyber scams. Making all of this all the more challenging is how some online services are being specifically designed for overconsumption by creating addictive experiences.
Today, in honor of Safer Internet Day, NCTA joins ConnectSafely.org in not only supporting a better and more informed internet user experience for children and their families, but in raising awareness of the valuable resources available throughout the cable industry that can help parents steer their kids towards making safe and savvy online choices. Safer Internet Day, a global effort that's celebrated in over 100 countries around the world and which came to the U.S. in 2012, is one initiative that is working towards giving kids and their families the confidence they need to safely navigate the internet.
ISPs and programmers have always prioritized families and provided ways to empower users with the knowledge and tools to stay safe online, including offering a variety of parental controls for their users. Through the use of parental control functions on devices, cable companies give parents the ability to decide what programming is most appropriate for their children, and to block those that are not. These extend to websites as well, as ISPs offer filtering options, supervised or monitored chats, time limits, and web activity reports for each user in the household.
A couple of new products have also sprung up recently. Last year, Comcast unveiled its new xFi service platform which gives subscribers the ability to manage every internet-connected device on their home network--meaning that parents can monitor devices on the network and set parental control filters for their children's individual devices and user accounts. Disney also offers a small hardware device called Circle, which plugs into a home wi-fi router and offers similar control and safe search features.
But beyond just offering these types of controls, many cable companies offer resources and video tips on how to talk to kids about inappropriate online use or TV content. Controlwithcable.org offers a wealth of information on how to teach kids about behaving responsibly and ethically online, whether it be on a social networking site or a multi-player online game. The site also includes information on parental controls, TV ratings, cyberbullying, media literacy tips and cybersecurity, as well as the "ICYMI" video collection which includes videos on the latest websites, apps and products that help parents manage their children's online presence.
For further information on how to get involved and to join the Safer Internet Day movement, visit http://saferinternetday.us/.