Internet Filter Software – Meta-Study
Originally posted on https://www.expertido.org/internet-filter-software-meta-study/
When using the Internet unconsciously and carelessly, it is frightening to observe how easy it is to come across unwanted websites, videos or photos. It doesn’t even take a lot of clicks but just the selection of wrong links. Especially children and minors are at risk of stumbling over offensive content and in the worst-case becoming victims of harassment or sexual assault. Considering that in the United States about $3,000 per second is spent on the use of pornography and every 39 minutes a new pornographic film is made, these are frightening numbers!
For this reason, it is especially important to block the access to certain content using Web Filters.
In order to make a more conscious use of web content possible, we have set up a comprehensive meta-study to familiarize you with possible risks and different available Internet Filter programs. The Parental Control Software plays an important role in controlling your child’s Internet use and blocking unwanted content. In the first step, we analysed and evaluated 6 already existing US studies on Internet Filter programs. From this we identified the 7 most important and well-known programs and evaluated them according to various criteria such as installation, filtering, price and app management. In the next step, we compared the test results of the 6 comparative studies with each other and levelled them based on scores in order to achieve an even weighting. The objective of our comprehensive and exclusive meta-study was to identify the objectively best Internet Filter software. And we don’t want to keep that from you.
Feel free to check out our Google spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Yv7XZVoeeGTx7hGGBzg4e1hOqEzoGcuK7fi0gbMCsmY/edit?usp=sharing
WHAT ARE THE COSTS OF INTERNET PORNOGRAPHY TODAY?
Since the 1980s, porn has been available for instant viewing via the Internet. While it wasn’t so sophisticated as to be available in the palm of your hand like today’s mobile users, it seems with every new technological advance, sex and porn have followed.
However, there has never been as much x-rated content available as there is toady, and as such, Internet pornography has been under scrutiny. Recently with the shutdown of x-rated content on Tumblr and the rise of SOPA, many parents are looking at Internet filter programs as a way to protect their computers and families from unwanted content.
Pornography is so prevalent that it’s hard to pinpoint what exact websites are pornography-specific and what networks have not-safe-for-work (NSFW) content from users. For example, Instagram and Twitter have NSFW content available for anyone to view, unless you set a parental control filter. However, as the organization Protect Young Eyes points out, Instagram is not that safe even with controls enabled.. That type of availability is scary to parents of young children growing up with ever-increasing access to the Internet.
In fact, hashtags are incredibly hard to control, as many of them include private, nuance terms that relate to porn but aren’t obvious to Instagram’s control filters or parents. Private accounts also pose an issue, as they can get around parental controls by posting their content privately.
The problem is also not exclusive to computers. Mobile phones have become the fastest and easiest way to access pornography, and it’s not just through search engines or mobile porn websites. Social networking apps like Snapchat have unique problems when it comes to x-rated content. Since 2011, Snapchat has dealt with multiple issues of pornographic abuse, including underage users posting inappropriate videos and pictures. Since this content “disappears,” it feels safer to view and post NSFW content. However, recently the app has been working towards a solution that would keep their community within strict guidelines.
Recent studies have found that there are over 4.2 million pornographic websites online, making up 12% of the Internet’s content. There are also 1.5 billion pornographic downloads per month. In total, 72 million worldwide Internet users visit adult sites every month.
With so many porn sites available, x-rated content can be hard to avoid online, which is why Internet filter and parental control programs have risen in popularity recently. Now, programs like McAfee and Norton antivirus are including Internet search filters and x-rated blocks to prevent porn from being so easily accessed in the workplace and at home.
Don’t think it’s such a big issue? Internet pornography has become more profitable and prevalent in the past few years. Here’s some statistics about pornography today:
- Every second, $3,075.64 is spent on pornography.
- 28,258 Internet users are viewing porn every second.
- 372 Internet users are typing a pornographic search term every second.
- In the United States, a pornographic video is made every 39 minutes.
Obviously there is a correlation to the increase of Internet use with the popularity of pornography. In every country, pornography use is on the rise as well. In fact, China’s porn industry revenue has risen over $27 billion.
In the US, $13.33 billion was spent on the porn industry in 2006, and those numbers have increased, exceeding the combined revenues of networks ABC, NBC, and CBS.
Pornography on the Internet has been a family safety topic for many years, but it’s also a criticism of society at large online. There are a multitude of studies and statistics that show how profitable pornography has become, as well as how much it has infiltrated younger audiences and families.
The rise of Internet porn has reached an all-time high that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, but what does that mean for the next generation? There are a few alarming statistics about x-rated content and children that are causing parents to look for stricter parental control filter programs.
- 116,000 daily requests for child pornography
- 100,000+ websites offering child pornography
- Studies show children are first exposed to porn at the average age of 11
- 1 in 7 children have received sexual solicitation
Since pornography can be introduced through several sources, many filter programs also provide summary reports on chat activity, websites visited, emails sent and received, as well as social media activity reports.
Aslo, studies have found that teenagers with frequent exposure to pornographic content have a greater likelihood of becoming pregnant as a teenager. In fact, studies found that pregnancy was twice as high, relative to the amount of x-rated content exposure.
According to National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families, 47 percent of families reported that pornography was a problem at home. These numbers are only projected to increase as more mobile content continues to be uploaded to pornographic sites as well.
So how does all of this pornography affect people? There have been other studies focused on porn addiction and unwanted exposure to pornography, particularly in emails, spam, malware links, and advertising.
- 200,000 Americans are classified as “porn addicts
- 40 million+ Americans view porn on a daily basis
- 34% of Internet users are exposed to unwanted porn through spam, email, misdirected links and pop-up ads
- About 33% of porn viewers are female
The magnitude of how much pornography can be found online is only one part of the problem. Employers have to work extremely hard to keep their networks safe and compliant with workplace laws as well. Cyber security in the workplace to prevent porn has serious costs. In fact, studies show that the financial cost in terms of business productivity costs about $16.9 billion each year.
In 2010, another study found that 28% of work computers had visited sexually explicit websites. On average, work computers visited these sites for about 13 minutes. In one month, it was found that the average worker spent one hour and 38 minutes on pornography-related sites.
For those who want to use Internet filters and blocks to control pornography use, there are a variety of software programs out there ready to help and prevent unwanted access.
GUIDE TO TESTING INTERNET FILTERING AND PARENTAL CONTROL PROGRAMS
Our meta test focuses on apps and programs that set up filters and limits for any device that you want. These programs work for family computers and parents who want to prevent children from seeing inappropriate content, as well as content for workplace computers. If you have compliance and workplace restrictions, these apps will help you set up filters and blocks to prevent matura and violent content from getting into your employees’ computers.
Some of the most important aspects of our test focus on the software’s accuracy, usability, installation, and setup. You should be able to install and configure any of the programs on this list in a few minutes, but we also wanted to make sure that you can understand each of the alerts and use all programs as intended by the software developer.
App management and Internet filtering are extremely important to these apps. The number of filters with each app is unique, but we found that pornography, violence, narcotics, racism, cyber-bullying, and other mature content filters were all present in the programs selected in our meta study.
With app management, you should be able to control most of the time spent on the Internet and smartphones by the users you control. If you want to schedule specific times where apps and games can be accessed, you can do so with programs like Qustodio and Norton Family. However, you can get even more detailed than that, setting up scheduled time and blocking certain types of apps that you find inappropriate for your user.
Texting management is another feature that we looked for, as it’s very important to monitor both SMS and chats on your child’s devices. With text management, you can typically get reports, alerts, and recordings of chats sent to your email and phone. Most kids are texting these days, so it’s important to monitor these messages and see who they are talking to.
You can also use location tracking with most of these apps. These features are incredibly valuable and give you insight into the places that your older children may be going on their own. With location tracking, you can prevent very dangerous situations for your kids.
Since most of the tests involved computers and mobile phones, we wanted our test to have a mixture of the top Internet filtering programs for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. While not all of the programs on our list are able to have cross-platform functionality, and it may not always be needed by parents for younger kids, we included more tests that looked at mobile device apps for parental controls as well.
Finally, price is a huge factor in how we look at some of these programs. You should be able to match the features to the value of the program. For example, Net Nanny is one of the top programs on our list, but for the price, you don’t get updates and up-to-date features. However, Net Nanny still has most of the basic features and some advanced functionality that make it a top choice, even if it is outdated. In general, you shouldn’t have to spend more than $20 to get really great controls unless you want more advanced features, that you’ll find in Kaspersky or Norton.
We know that there are an abundant amount of free parental controls, but our test looked at premium versions due to the need for advanced controls on a number of devices. We want users to feel as if they can control activity and get notifications whether their child is on the family computer, on a laptop, or just using their mobile phone.
REVIEW OF FILTER PROGRAMS SOFTWARE TESTS
In each of these tests, we looked for the criteria mentioned above, as well as the overall scores and ratings from the reviewer. We paid attention to the features that mattered most to users, such as limits, scheduling, app usage, monitors, text message monitoring, and location tracking.
While some of these tests included the products on our list, many of them went into other programs that were more robust for IT applications and businesses. We focused on some of these programs, but we identified that most of the users of these programs were for parental controls. As such, parents should be able to use any of these tests to see how well software today will work for their computers and devices.