As part of their efforts to make surfing the web safer for children, an Internet provider in the U.K. has partnered with the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) to age-rate websites. As a result, everybody’s favorite search engine has been deemed unsuitable for kids under the age of 12.
The BBFC is the U.K.’s equivalent of the Motion Picture Assocation of America. Their job, among other things, is to rate movies based on age-appropriateness. In partnership with the Internet service provider Tibboh, they’ve taken the very same criteria used to help parents determine if a movie is okay for their kids and applied it to over 3 billion web pages. And according to their results, Google should be off-limits until until one’s 13th birthday.
The purpose of this endeavor is offer Tibboh customers an enhanced web-filtering system in which users can set a rating limit and effectively block their children from accessing a site that doesn’t meet the criteria. The effect of this endeavor, however, is to leave some people scratching their heads and worrying about censorship.
Those head-scratchers probably don’t have young children. While I don’t have a web filter, my 9-year-old’s use of Google is and always has been supervised. I am not just trying to protect her from sites she shouldn’t see, I am helping her avoid sites she doesn’t want to see. With Google, or any other search engine, a child is just one misspelled word or inadvertent click away from seeing things that cannot be unseen.
With parental supervision, bookmarks and web review sites like Common Sense Media, I keep my child from straying where she shouldn’t on the Internet. How do you do it?
Image: Ernst Vikne/Flickr
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