Friday, 28 April 2017

"I don't want porn coming in to my home"

As you know, I always get very concerned if any customer has a disconnect with what they expect and what we provide. I take it very seriously and always try to improve how we work to avoid it in future. It does not happen often, but we had one today that was, for want of a different word, "special". I initially assumed it was a wind up even!

The gist of it was that there were a list of things that she did not want coming in to her home including porn, suicide, self harm... She was amazed that "the internet" has not taken down such videos. Who? Apparently "blue wale challenge" is real and "every school in the uk has sent a formal email about it to parents and children have been told about it in assemblies" - really?!? Not the schools round here, sorry.

OK, personally, I think that if her kid's school has told kids in assembly not to google for suicide videos, that would be something to complain about as it would be very irresponsible. Tell a kid not to do something, that works every time, duh!

Though, her kids are apparently quite savvy, as her son "innocently googled some games the other day and found a pretty hard core sex games internet site"... Err, OK... Safe search, anyone? Given a later comment I hope this is a son in late teens... If so, I suspect he knows how to "innocently" google many things by now. Time to talk to your kids about what you may find on the internet I think.

OK, lets be a bit fair here. Not everyone knows how to fact check stories. People do need some help understanding how they can filter content, or even just turn on google safe search on the browsers their kids are using! It is actually quite a concern that parents get very little help in this area - it is bad enough learning about everything you need to know when being a parent but for a whole generation, this stuff is new and complicated. It is not something parents could have been taught in school even.

To be clear: we are more than happy to offer advice, and even set alternative DNS servers as default on the router. We're not irresponsible here. What we do is make sure every customer is well aware that they are buying an unfiltered service with an active choice you cannot ignore on the order form, as well as confirmation in the key terms you have to tick, and on our web site and the order confirmation and the information pack we send.

It is also very important that parents understand that no filtering is 100%, so is a "false sense of security" to some extent. It is also the case that a teenage boy (and girl I expect) will be more than capable of bypassing filters if they want to access something. What you need is education and openness, not cotton wool. Else you create innocent blobs that go out on their own in to the wild world of the internet at 18 and don't know how to handle what they find and probably with nobody to talk to.

But the icing on the cake was the last bit...  "My boys play 18 rated pc games...... all killing and horrrible stuff......Hopefully they will still be able to play these games?"

OK, now I am not sure what to say, sorry... Please, just be a parent!

6 comments:

  1. Next year - coach tour to Skegness - It's all about the experience...

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  2. Google Safe Search is absolutely turd.
    Google image search (with Filter Explicit Results ticked):
    king of diamonds
    dyke
    friday rude meme
    prince albert piercing

    It is like they are not even trying. I honestly don't know what the solution is for "safe internet use" other than close supervision.

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  3. I suspect it's just another case of a reserved British parent who would rather find a technological solution to a social problem than have "the talk". If you start when they are tiny and teach them the proper names for things and gradually build on the knowledge then it is not some terrible mysterious thing they are desperate to seek out online. When they inevitably find content that does disturb them (and they will), they know they can talk to you without a veritable explosion of negative responses. Also if you drum information security into them from a young age, then they are a lot less likely to be the person in class for whom the pictures of their backside get passed around. Teaching why and how is so much easier than playing porn site whack-a-mole.

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  4. Apologies to Giles D, as I click wrong button and deleted...
    Schools in the county I work in were sent a page about the suicide game thing in this weeks communications from the Local Authority - which summarised down to:
    This is a thing people are talking about (but we're not going to specifically name it here to avoid heightening awareness).

    Some information has circulated saying deaths have occurred, we've not been able to verify that as true.

    Please try to avoid circulating unsubstantiated information to help avoid extra publicity or possible emulation.

    Then some generic reminders on signposting support to young people, caution on how distressing material can be shared online and how to help young people support each other plus a link to some suicide help resources from the Samaritans.

    Seems broadly sensible in response to sudden hysteria and nothing to do with trying to take down or block content - which makes a nice change. :)

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  5. We sell web filters to schools (opendium.com) and *good* filtering requires constant interaction between the filter vendor and the end users. i.e. it can't ever be a "turn it on and then forget about it" service. And even then, there isn't 100% coverage - people who are actively trying to circumvent filters will, of course, get through. Thankfully the government guidance to schools is pretty sensible and places an emphasis on active auditing, education and discipline instead of expecting the filters to fix everything. So the idea is that kids will get through the filters from time to time, but in doing so they will usually leave a messy enough trail that the filter will alert staff who can discipline and educate the offenders.

    For home users with no technical expertise, its clear that a "fire and forget" filter is needed. Such systems are never going to do anything more that protect users from *accidentally* stumbling across porn, etc. and it would be a terrible idea for parents to expect anything more.

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