Moderation and Child Safety Online: Guide to Free Tools
Your first step to securing your online presence is self-assessment. Defining your needs, and the needs of your users is essential, especially when dealing with a younger user base. If outsourcing your moderation to a specialist is not a viable option, (forums are too small, resources are not available), some form of moderation is still essential. Here are some resources to help you self-assess and moderate from the perspective of a company or individual.
Fortunately, for companies, there is a tool that you can use to assess your part in keeping children safe online.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Child Online Safety Assessment Tool is designed to support ICT (information and communication technology) companies in assessing how children’s rights can be more effectively integrated into their operations. It aims to empower companies to strengthen their child protection policies, codes of conduct and due diligence processes.
The Excel tool has been built with inputs from a wide range of stakeholders, including ICT companies across a variety of sectors (online gaming, internet service providers, social media, search engines and others), industry associations, non-governmental organizations specializing in child rights for the ICT sector, independent human rights consultants, academics and media experts.
The three primary objectives of the tool are to:
- Ensure companies understand the core issues and impacts to consider when assessing their management of child rights and the internet
- Offer an easy-to-use and comprehensive self-assessment of a company's management of and impact on children’s rights online
- Uncover strengths and weaknesses in managing child rights policies and practices, and build corrective plans where needed to adjust management practices
The tool features worksheets for six self-assessment areas:
- Legal – Ensuring corporate policies and management processes comply with applicable legislation
- Human Rights and Corporate Responsibility – Integrating child rights considerations into all appropriate corporate responsibility policies and management processes
- Human Resources – Working to make sure all employees are aware of child rights and exhibit appropriate behaviors
- Procurement – Working with suppliers to align values, expectations, and performance
- Product Development – Creating safer and age-appropriate online environments through product development, in use, and through interaction with customers and users
- Commercial – Ensuring marketing, sales, products, and services promote child safety online
Here are four parental control software products you can use to keep your children safe online.
K9 is used to protect home Windows or Mac computer. It enables parents to do the following:
- Block websites in over 70 categories, including drugs, gambling, malware/spyware, phishing, pornography, and violence/hate/racism
- Categorize new adult and malicious sites real-time
- Configure custom lists for "always allow" and "always block"
- Force Safe Search on ALL major search engines
- Override a webpage block with a password
- Set time restrictions to block web access at designated times
- Trust the enhanced anti-tampering that children will not be able to break
- View easy reports to monitor and control web activity
What is good about this software is that it is entirely free for home use.
MetaCert provides two free internet safety products: an iPad web browser and a Chrome extension. Below are the key features:
Owned by networking hardware company Cisco, OpenDNS is a domain name system (DNS) server that lets parents protect every device there is at home—digital video recorders (DVRs), game consoles, laptops, smartphones, tablets, TVs, and anything that connects to the internet.
OpenDNS offers three home internet security options:
- Family Shield (free, no account required) - pre-configured to block adult content
- Home (free, account required) - with customizable filtering and identity theft protection
- Home VIP ($19.95/year, account required) - Home package plus one year of usage stats and optional whitelist mode
Qustodio has real-time internet filter that blocks inappropriate content even in private browsing mode. The software lets parents monitor their child's social network activity, set multi-device limits, control games and apps, and track text messages, calls and their child's location. In case of emergency, it also lets kids use the Panic Button to call for help.
It is free for 1 user and 1 device, but there are premium versions for those who want to protect more than 1 device.
As much as you want to watch over your children’s activities online, you cannot do it at all times (especially if you are a working parent). But with the use of any of the tools above, you will have a partner in safeguarding your children online.