Thursday, June 21, 2007

Parental Controls: Tools and Methods

With ever-present concerns about the exposure of children to indecent and violent television programming and online material, I have used this space before to tout the tools available to parents to filter material that they deem inappropriate for their children's consumption. Due to technological advances and industry efforts, these filtering and screening tools are getting easier and easier for parents to access and use, if only parents will spend a bit of time familiarizing themselves with them.

In that vein, I recently called attention to the cable industry's new "Point Smart. Click Safe" campaign. This is an effort by cable operators to further educate parents concerning the tools available to keep their children safe online. You can access information about the safety tools available directly from the National Cable & Telecommunications Association's special "Point Smart" website.

Now comes PFF's Adam Thierer's just-released new special report entitled "Parental Controls & Online Child Protection: A Survey of Tools and Methods." This report is a very broad--and parent-friendly--guide to all of the tools available today that can help parents manage media content in all its manifestations in today's multi-media environment. Adam covers broadcast television, cable and satellite TV, music devices, mobile phones, the Internet, video game consoles, and more. (Hmmmm....just reciting the list of the various types of media has to make you wonder about those who still chomp at the bit for more restrictive ownership regulations....another subject I have discussed many times that will have to await another day.)

In recommending Adam's new report, I readily acknowledge Adam is a friend of mine. More significantly, with the release of his new "Tools and Methods" report, Adam is a friend to all parents who are willing to invest a little time in protecting their children from exposure to material to which they would rather not have their children exposed. It's up to parents to take responsibility to use the tools.