As the Internet plays an increasingly prominent role in children’s lives, parents are getting increasingly worried about the ease with which undesirable content can be accessed online.
The Parental Control component’s main task is to help parents safeguard their children from the hidden dangers of uncontrolled use of computers and the Internet. By default the component is not enabled – it has to be activated by the parents themselves.
Data received from Kaspersky Security Network (KSN) show that alerts from the Parental Control component are triggered most frequently by the ‘Pornography, erotic materials’, ‘Social networks’ and ‘Illegal software’ categories.
Globally, those three lead the other categories by a wide margin. There are 60 million attempts to access sites with pornographic content every month, which is almost four times more than the second place category. The alerts generated by Kaspersky Lab’s Parental Control component demonstrate that children are either deliberately or unwittingly visiting sites with undesirable content.
The statistics for Parental Control component alerts are not the same for every country. The ‘Anonymous proxy servers’ category was ranked third in both the US and the UK, accounting for approximately 9% of all alerts in those countries; the global average for that category was just 2.43%. Also in the UK, fourth place was occupied by ‘Illegal software’ (6.3%).
Obviously, British children and teenagers take a keen interest in software and are familiar with the methods for bypassing web filters and the use of anonymizers.
Another distinct feature of the US and the UK was the relatively high percentage of alerts triggered by the ‘Gambling’ category – 5.77% and 5.68% respectively. The percentage of the ‘Violence’ category was also high in the US – it occupies fourth place in the country’s rating with 7.32% of alerts. This is more than in the other countries analyzed.
Although the ‘Pornography, erotic materials’ category was the runaway leader in the US and the UK, the Parental Control alerts for the other categories was more evenly distributed than in the other countries analyzed. This indicates that, on average, parents in the US and the UK activate more categories of the Parental Control component than parents in other countries.
Germany was the absolute leader in the ‘Pornography, erotic materials’ category: 80% of all alerts in the country were triggered by this category, which significantly exceeded the world average of 53.6%. In absolute numbers, that translates to 5.3 million alerts per month. This could be due to the fact that many parents in Germany only activate this category in the Parental Control component, leaving websites in all other categories freely accessible to their children.
In Brazil, the absolute leader was the ‘Social networks’ category with 57.84% – twice as much as the ‘Pornography, erotic materials’ category. This share of Parental Control alerts differed significantly from that of the world average.
“Although many children are taught aspects of internet safety in school, the IT industry, too, can play its part and help safeguard the young online, raising awareness of online dangers among both children and their parents. This can help parents take a more proactive stance in keeping their children safe online. Clear, prominent and accessible advice contained within the IT industry’s services – particularly at the point of provision – can help ensure that children and young people can safely get the most from those services. And it is important to have a coordinated approach across the industry to ensure the information parents need gets distributed effectively,” said Peter Davies, Chief Executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre which works across the UK.
“The dangers of the Internet are increasing by the day, though this hasn’t stopped children from becoming even more active on social networking sites in the last year. Social networks are an extremely dangerous environment for children. They are the favored hunting grounds of cybercriminals who use them to spread malicious links and links to fraudulent web pages. They are also a place where your child can come into contact with unpleasant or even dangerous people. At the same time, the more traditional online dangers shouldn’t be forgotten, such as viewing content that is not intended for children as well as phishing scams and various other types of fraud,” said Konstantin Ignatev, Manager of the Web Content Analysts Group at Kaspersky Lab.