Web hosting is a program that screens incoming web pages that determine whether it should be displayed to the user that requested it. The parental control software checks the origin of the content of a web page against a set of rules that were created by the person or developer that created the program. Generally, a web filter is designed with a whitelist and a blacklist of appropriate and inappropriate sites.
The whitelist is a list of websites that should be allowed to be shown and the blacklist is a list of sites that should be blocked. Sites that are likely to show up on a filters blacklist include those associated with advertising, pornography, spyware, and gambling. The list is not exclusive, but contains generalities instead.
A web filter can be used by parents and employers alike. With children having access and know how to manage the Internet at young ages – sometimes before they can even read, the software is becoming more popular with parents.
Web Filter Options
Web filters can be used by parents and businesses. Many parents are aware of how employers use web filters, but don’t know how to filter content at home However, the way the filter is applied to content is fundamentally different based on where and how it is used. For instance, web filters can be installed via a browser extension, standalone program, through an Internet service provider, or via the client or server side of deliverability.
Web Filter Pros
There’re amazing advantages associated with the use of a content filter. There are even a few free internet filter programs parents can access online. The free filters are usually aimed at preventing pornography from being accessed and can even be called a free porn filter, pornography filter or porn content filtering. The biggest advantage associated with home internet filter software is safety. A web filter can screen out inappropriate content through the use of malware control. Other advantages include:
Protection of children
Controlling how employees access web
Preventing data leakage
Web Filter Cons
Although a web filter is extremely beneficial in most situations; there are some disadvantages associated with this type of software too. Some cons of web filtering include:
Wrong sites may be blocked
When used in employee-based situations, it can be deemed controversial
Software can’t tell the difference between accidental and intentional URL requests
Web Filter Limitations
Like any program, a web filter program is not flawless. In fact, it has several limitations. The limitations are created because the software is based mostly on keywords. If the keyword list has multiple meanings or a commonly misspelled word is close to the keyword sites that should be blocked may leak through.
Due to the limitations of a web filter, parents must still be vigilant is checking what their children are accessing on the Internet. Most web filter programs provide the installer with a list of websites that have been accessed recently. It’s important for parents to go over the list and ensure that no websites that shouldn’t have been shown to the user weren’t used. If an inappropriate website was accessed parents should talk with their children about the site and then the parents can take action to ensure it is blocked.
While not necessarily a limitation of a web filter, some programs are designed to provide “soft blocking” only. What this means is that when a user requests a URL that may be on a blacklist, the user sees a warning that the page may contain inappropriate content. However, the filter does not prevent the user from accessing the site. In fact, the warning can be simply overridden and the user can continue to the site.
Since web filters vary greatly, it’s important for parents to understand the pros, cons, and limitations of a particular program. When choosing a filter for their home network, parents need to consider whether the software will be installed to each device in use; including iPads, tablets, phones, laptops, desktops, etc., or if it will be applied through the Internet service provider. There are even specific filters for smart phones including an Internet filter for the iPhone and an Internet filter for Android devices. Some Internet service providers offer this service to households for a fee. If not offered by a provider, it may be purchased separately and installed to certain devices.
Can Kids Get Around a Web Filter?
Children today have grown up using technology. Before they can tie their shoes, children know how to use an iPad. Kids can even get online and control settings. What this means is kids are very comfortable with technology and if they really wanted to, they could probably figure out how to get around a web filter.
Again, the possibility of a child learning how to override a web filter is another reason parents have to be sure they are vigilant about monitoring their children’s activity online. If a parent suspects the child has learned to override the program, they can take certain steps to strengthen the restraints of the program.
Just like a business assigns IDs to employees, parents can choose a web filter program that determines which of their children is accessing certain restricted sites. The web filters that offer this type of reporting can provide a list of all traffic requested, traffic filtered, and who requested the URL.
Why Parents Should Use Web Filters
Technology is wonderful. Children today are growing up in a technological renaissance, which means it is constantly changing. As a result, kids of all ages can access almost anything they can imagine. Even when children have good intentions such as looking up how to make their own slime or an afterschool treat, they can be exposed to images and content that are not age appropriate.
The use of a web filter allows parents to control what their kids are able to access the Internet. It also promotes education between children and their parents. When parents are children are talking about are talking about what is appropriate behavior and what isn’t, children are able to make better Internet choices.
By installing the best Internet filter through home-based Internet and making sure the technology is being used by all devices a child has access to, parents are protecting their children. In addition to the technology, it’s also important for parents to have open and honest conversations with their children about their activity online and to make sure everyone is aware of what the expectations are for appropriate behavior.