Vodafone has launched an app to help middle-class parents who've equipped their offspring with Android handsets to control what their ankle-biters see and hear. Using the free-to-all Vodafone Guardian app a parent can limit specific applications to specific times, as well as restricting outgoing calls/texts and ignoring incoming …
As a parent and somebody who understands the web I have to approve of this application.
It is a bit of a start, it is all well and good other childless commentators on here saying that children should be supervised at all times, etc, etc. This just doesn't happen, and isn't realistically possible, particularly when they have smart phones anyway. You switch on all the child protection in windows, and Norton and still the kids find objectionable content.
I do feel that the authorities should do far more to either remove or block this content at source. It is nice to see an article where the author at least acknowledges the problems that parents experience.
I have to agree here.
'Lazy parenting' ? Quite a value judgement there, care to back up the 'undeniable' part?
When you have kids, you try to teach them to understand temptation and how to resist it.
However you certainly do not put temptation that they are unprepared for in easy reach. This is bad parenting.
If the 14 year old can't go through the night without playing daft games on his phone, you either take it away or disable the function, as this application does.
Talking to him and trying to convince him of the error of his ways won't work, he's 14, the temptation will be too strong and you should simply remove it until he is capable.
You have to treat them as children, because _that is what they are_, to do otherwise is doing no-one a favour, least of all them.
As a parent, I agree that this app is a nice _optional_ method for controlling smart-phone/table use. But then, if you buy your kids a smartphone you have to accept that there are risks associated with it.
This app makes that possible, so no objections there.
"I do feel that the authorities........" this is where I disagree. Quite aside from the fact it's not entirely possible, why should content that's fine for some be removed for the sake of others? More to the point, why should we all pay extra (whether through taxes or some other way) to protect the kids of those who are bothered?
I wouldn't let kids wander through Soho on their own, would you? But I'm also not asking for Soho to be cleared of adult-only businesses, because that's entirely unreasonable.
The fact of the matter is, if I clicked my fingers and made the internet porn free, there'd still be something to complain about. Kids would be doing what we used to do, and getting mags from the newsagent, or from a mate.
Parents would probably move onto whining about something else online that's unsuitable.
Sorry, but to me it's like the 9 o'clock watershed. If you let your kids watch something after 9, there's a risk you won't approve of the content, so you don't generally let them. The internet is the same, except it's a 24 hour watershed.
There are plenty of resources available on effective methods of controlling net-access within the home (never going to successfully control outside the home), and there are plenty of people willing to give advice on how to do it. If left to the Authorities it'll either be totally useless, or over controlling - in either case it'll be at a huge cost, and probably the thin end of a very large wedge.
re: About time
That last paragraph of yours sends chills down my spine. The article talks about restricting access to objectionable content for the kids from their own device while your solution is to remove it for everyone!
The content that you probably don't your kids looking at (and with reasonable cause) is legally (generally) enjoyed by millions of people.
Perhaps if you are so concerned about smartphones etc then your child doesn't actually need one? Either that or accept that there are risks for everything, you can minimise them as much as possible but they are still there.
"I do feel that the authorities should do far more to either remove or block this content at source"
This one statement shows just how poor your decisions are.
Stop blaming everyone else and expecting someone else to sort out the problems/issues you are causing.
If your kiddilees are viewing objectionable content (even with filters), you are responsible for allowing the net to baby sit!.
"all well and good other childless commentators on here saying that children should be supervised at all times, etc, etc. This just doesn't happen, and isn't realistically possible"
You Are Wrong! It is entirely possible and very simple to resolve. You simply don't want to make the right decision. Maybe you’re yet another parent who believes that letting the telly or the net babysit is responsible.
Honestly, foul, just foul. My faith in English parents to be the right thing is diminished daily.
Err... talk to your kids much?
My kid ...
... didn't have access to the planet unless she was supervised. Not until she went off to Uni. My grand-daughter (just about two years old) will have similar exposure, or so says my daughter.
Why do today's parents not want to parent? The mind boggles ...
if every parent had the same values, sir, then England would be a far better place to live.
Alas not, hence the Jeremy Kyle generation of today.
.....your posts suggest that you live on a farm in the middle of nowhere. Those of us who aren't as privileged have to deal with children going to see their friends (where they go on the Internet anyway), doing homework using the Internet (as an example a simple query, homework for WW1, on 'The Hun' leads to a web site with content that you don't really want a 12 year old to see) , etc.
I now view the Internet, far from being educational, as a blight on the 21st century. It is only your privileged location that allows you to make these sort of statements. The rest of us do not have the time to supervise teenage children 24/7, somebody has to clean up, cook etc. etc. This is doubly hard when you have to hold down a job as a single parent.
How was it possible for your child to develop any sort of confidence at all in their abilities to handle life solo with such draconian supervision?
"Oh, right, now you're 18 years old. You can now go outside the front door without me holding your hand."
Well you know Clare...
...if you "... do not have the time to supervise teenage children 24/7..." maybe you shouldn't have had children IN THE FIRST PLACE? HMMM??
do not have the time
If you don't have time to supervise your own kids why did you have them?
Stop whining about choices you made for yourself.
So a question for you AudiGuy & LD50. Do you supervise your teenage children 24/7 or is that you are talking out of your **** and don't have children (or maybe you just dumped them and ran off after they were born)?
Mature response there Clare! You remind me of the chief of the CSA who effectively stated there were no bad mothers, only bad fathers on telly a few years ago.
Some of us supervise our kids when they are doing things that could bring them to harm. They have opportunity to do and view things that they shouldn't, but understand that there are consequences _when_ they are caught.
Let me ask you a question, as it's a debate I was having with the wife;
Kid A does something wrong, so you ban them from the Internet for a week.
When they come home with homework saying "research X on the net", do you relax the ban? Me, I don't. I'll drive them to the Library and they can research it the old fashioned way, if the teacher has an issue with that they can speak to me about it.
When they understand that it's not worth the punishment, they become less inclined to do it in the first place. There'll always be transgressions (we were all teenagers once!), but I find both punishing and explaining the reasons for the rule can be very, very effective.
The thing is, no matter whether it's your kids or someone elses, it's never reasonable to demand that something legal be purged from any resource. Yes, we should be filtering internet in schools, but at home it's your connection, your responsibility.
I'd have much more sympathy if you were saying the ISP's should provide some customers with a restricted version of the internet, at the cost of those customers. Demanding wholescale filtering at the cost of every internet user just isn't reasonable or fair. Why should those without kids, or indeed those who put more effort into disciplining their kids pay for those that don't?
I've said it before, I and many others are often quite happy to give up our time and show people how to set up effective filters at the home level. Sure, they don't catch everything, but nor would a Government mandated filter. But then, if you're that worried, use a whitelist!
Our kids grew up before smart phones were invented, but they had mobiles. It was made very clear that they were mainly for use in emergency and they were on a contract with a fairly tight limit on free texts and voice calls. If the bill came in significantly over the standard charge they had to explain why, and if it had happened more than twice running, it would have been taken away. I can't see why any teenager needs a smart phone, other than a) parents caving in to peer pressure b) parents wanting their kids to have shiny new toys, for whatever reason.
If I had believed the Internet was the work of the devil, the kids wouldn't have had access to it and I would have explained why. Of course they could see it at their friends' houses, but with the knowledge that I didn't approve. We had lots of "so and so has" arguments, which they never won, and it doesn't seem to have harmed our relationship.
A "web specialist" ought surely to be able to teach their children how to use Google safely.
davtom: There is a difference between "supervised" and "micromanaged".
My daughter got her share of bruises & has scars to prove it :-)
Clare: I'm about 10 minutes from Sonoma's Plaza. That's hardly "middle of nowhere". I'm not privileged, I worked hard to get here ... My daughter bicycled or rode her horse to high school, until she got her drivers license. She had no Internet access without me looking over her shoulder until she went off to Uni. TehIntraWebTubes[tm] was a utility in our house 30-odd years ago, but it wasn't as important as water or air ... and it still isn't. Any school district forcing kids to use the Internet as a part of the curriculum needs their collective psyche examining ...
a question for you AudiGuy & LD50
Nope, none of those things, nor am I an ineffectual whinger that can't run their own lives without wanting state interference to make it all better for them.
Multitasking, I'm sure you've heard of it, give it a try sometime.
So you didn't let her go ride a bicycle, to the cinema to see a film, etc without you there to watch over her? Sounds like a terribly oppresive childhood to me.
At a suitable age I was allowed to go play in parks & fields, ride my bike, etc without always having adult supervision. Gaining a little autonomy is an important part of growing up and helps develop a child into an adult that can think and act for themselves.
Uni age? Seriously?
There's a fine line between protecting children and wrapping them in a cotton wool coccoon. I'd say once the little sprogs are past 16 then they are legally old enough to marry (or join the Army if you like). Saying "thou shalt not play out past 9pm" without some logical reason like "I'm up early tomorrow and so are you" would be perhaps a little repressive and may even damage somebody that age. Or maybe some parents will find out the hard way that some 17 year olds have just enough hotheadedness to defy you to make a point, and just enough stupidity to not care about the consequences. Of course you could kick them out and make them live in a hostel, but.. yeah, good parenting, that.
Anyway, what's the betting that some kids are going to be swapping their "smart" phones for cheapy Nokias that don't act like nannies?
Maybe it's ElReg's 'orrible, 'orrible, lack of continuity on "comments posted", but I think I clearly pointed out that she was free to bicycle or ride her horse to wherever ... we pretty much are a park, and have several hundred acres of fields ...
 Need a network engineer that groks Usenet, ElReg? You probably can't afford me ...
> The rest of us do not have the time to supervise teenage children 24/7
So make the time.
If cleaning happens and supervision of children doesn't, then I'd seriously have to question your priorities.
@ Clare (web specialist)
> I now view the Internet, far from being educational, as a blight on the 21st century.
May I respectfully suggest you do the sensible thing, and remove yourself from it, post haste.
Here's your coat. I've put some cotton wool in the pockets, to wrap your kids in.
"Today's parents are struggling to control children's access to the internet; software installed on the home computer is clearly ineffective in the age of iPhones and tablets"
Wow, just how thick a parent must you be, to be unable to resolve this situation!
I question their parenting abilities if they really think giving a smartphone to a sprog is a good thing. If you condone this activity and then install this softwre, you really need to look at yourself and the double standards your teaching your sprogs. <calls child services>
Though I doubt 1) you are able to understand this, or 2) care
"(as an example a simple query, homework for WW1, on 'The Hun' leads to a web site with content that you don't really want a 12 year old to see)"
There is nothing. Nothing. Nothing that my 12 year old cannot handle when viewed on a screen. He does not hide it from me. He seeks my guidance when he needs it, but he usually doesn't. At that age they should know the world has filth, trash and just plain shocking or silly stuff. They can be discriminating and critical, if you allow them to develop the facility from an early age.
Don't parent my child. Don't advocate for the parenting of my child by a third party. He needs to grow up and learn responsibility. I'll see to that.