Internet

Protect kids from potentially harmful online content

Read time 4min 00sec
Parental control is key.
Parental control is key.

The kids of today are comfortable in the digital space. They use digital diaries and textbooks at school, communicate via instant messaging, and play games on mobile devices.

However, as much as the Internet is an incredible resource, access to it can be dangerous for children, and parents who want their child to spend time online safely and productively, need to understand the basic concepts of digital security and the associated threats, and be able to explain them to their children.

With this in mind, Kaspersky Lab compiles an annual report, based on statistics received from its solutions and modules with child protection features, which examines the online activities of children around the world.

Video content

According to the report, globally, video content made up 17% of Internet searches. Although many videos watched as a result of these searches may be harmless, it is still possible for children to accidentally end up watching videos that contain harmful or inappropriate content.

The report presents search results on the ten most-popular languages for the last six months. The data shows that the 'video and audio' category, which covers requests related to any video content, streaming services, video bloggers, series and movies, are the most regularly 'Googled', and make up 17% of the total requests.

Second and third places go to translation (14%) and communication (10%) Web sites respectively. Gaming Web sites sit in fourth place, generating only 9% of the total search requests.

Different strokes

Kaspersky Lab has also noted a clear language difference for search requests. "For example, video and music Web sites are typically searched for in English, which can be explained by the fact that the majority of movies, TV series and musical groups have English names. Spanish-speaking kids carry out more requests for translation sites, while communication services are mostly searched for in Russian."

Chinese-speaking children look for education services, while French kids are more interested in sport and games Web sites. German children dominate in the "shopping" category, Japanese kids search for Anime, and the highest number of search requests for pornography are in Arabic.

Anna Larkina, Web-content analysis expert at Kaspersky Lab, says children around the world have varying interests and online behaviours, but what links them all is their need to be protected online from potentially harmful content.

"Children looking for animated content could accidentally open a porn video. Or they could start searching for innocent videos and unintentionally end up on Web sites containing violent content, both of which could have a long-term impact on their impressionable and vulnerable minds," she says.

A local view

In addition to analysing searches, the report also delves into the types of Web sites children visit, or attempt to visit, which contain potentially harmful content that falls under one of the 14 pre-set categories, which cover Internet communication sites, adult content, narcotics, computer games, gambling and many others.

The data revealed that in South Africa, communication sites (such as social media, messengers, or e-mails) were the most popular (69%) of pages visited.

However, the percentage for this category is dropping each year, as mobile devices play an increasingly bigger role in children's online activities.

The second most popular category of Web sites visited in SA is 'software, audio, and video', accounting for 17%. Web sites with this content have become significantly more popular since last year, when it was only the fifth most popular category globally at 6%.

Others in the top four are electronic commerce (4.2%) and alcohol, tobacco, and Web sites about narcotics (3.9%), which is a new addition compared to this time last year.

Education

Irrespective of what children are doing online, it is important for parents not to leave their children's digital activities unattended, says Larkina.

"While it is important to trust your children and educate them about how to behave safely online, even your good advice cannot protect them from something unexpectedly showing up on the screen. That's why advanced security solutions are key to ensuring children have positive online experiences, rather than harmful ones," she concludes.

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