Marking National Internet Safety Month**, Adam Thierer – parent, author, and online-safety public policy specialist – commented in his blog: “This remains one of the great mysteries of the parental controls debate: Why is it that so many parents say they want more and better controls, but when they are made available many of them choose not to use them?”
Adams says some people think it’s because the parental controls aren’t easy enough to use and others because they’re too basic. I hope it’s because parents instinctively know tech tools are no blanket solution. Different tools (Web filters, phone filters, IM monitoring, Net curfew software, etc.) can be useful at different times, but nothing ever replaces parenting, even though we’re figuring it out as we go along!
Adam just released a book – Parental Controls & Online Child Protection: a Survey of Tools & Methods – that provides a very comprehensive survey of what’s out there for us, but saying in his introduction something very similar to what I just said: “If there is one point I try to get across in my book, it is that regardless of how robust they might be today, parental control tools and rating systems are no substitute for education – of both children and parents.”
**The statistics in the Senate’s resolution on National Internet Safety Month, which haven’t been widely corroborated in the online-safety research community, shouldn’t be the focus of this document. For data, check out the research at the Digital Media & Learning Project, Pew Internet & American Life Project,and the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire – or search for “research” or “study” in the 10-year-old NetFamilyNews archive (search box at the top of each page).