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Thursday, February 11, 2010

YouTube's new tool for kid-safe viewing

More than 33 billion online videos were watched during December and about a third of the them were on YouTube, according to comScore's latest figures. A 2008 study by Nielsen found that YouTube was 2-to-11-year-olds' No. 1 video viewing site (see this). So parents will probably be happy to know that YouTube now has its own filter for sexually explicit or violent content. "While no filter is 100% perfect, Safety Mode is another step in our ongoing desire to give you greater control over the content you see on the site," says the YouTube blog. As their video demo shows, it's easy to activate: Just go to any YouTube page, scroll to the bottom, and click "Safety Mode is off." After clicking On or Off, you can choose either to "Save" or "Save and lock." With the former, Safety Mode is on whenever anybody's uses that browser on that computer until they change that setting (works with a rule that settings don't get changed and obedient kids). "Save and lock" allows you to log into your Google or YouTube account and lock the setting so that it can't be changed in that browser by anyone who doesn't know your password – just as with Google's SafeSearch lock (see this). [See also "Help with cyberbullying on YouTube."]

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New tool for keeping Web searches safe

A few simple household rules can help kids at your house avoid stumbling upon inappropriate Web content: 1. If you're not absolutely sure of a URL, don't just type it into the browser window. Use a search engine. 2. Use only our family's search-engine pick (one that offers filtered search). 3. Nobody changes the settings or preferences in the search engine. We've had these rules at our house for years, and they've worked great (we're fortunate to have a pretty rule-abiding crew). But now one search engine, Google, has made family rule compliance a lot easier: It has a new feature that lets parents lock the computers kids use into the strictest SafeSearch setting (as long as Google's the search-engine pick, of course). All parents need to do is log into their Google account on any computer the kids use, click on Settings, then Search Settings in the upper right-hand corner of the page. On the page that takes you to, scroll down to SafeSearch Filtering and click "Lock SafeSearch." The rest will be clear. But here's a little 95-sec. demo. The only thing to remember is that you need to do this with any browser used on that computer – Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc. This is a lighter touch with parental controls that might be a good place to start (and some parents may find it meets their household adult-content-blocking needs). We've found that tech tools are best used when layered on top of parent-child discussions about what is and isn't appropriate for our family and why. Here's Google's Help page on the locking tool.

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