Is it necessary to install parental control software on children’s computers?

Over the last many years and among the various topics highly debatable in the society, this one topic yet leaves lots of questions unanswered. Parents walk a fine line between trusting their children to make the right decisions when online and needing to defend children from the bad things that go on in the world and on the Internet. In today’s world, parental control is viewed to be very restrictive in nature. They are unapproved by kids, as they believe that their parents indulge in their private space too often. Parents, who never had parental control imposed upon them, do not believe in doing the same on their children.  According to Fosi Hart Report survey, almost 60% of the parents do not believe in such softwares as they have their own rules regarding internet or computer usage for their children. The other 30% do not have any trust issues with their kids, and there are many other parents who have no knowledge about the software usages, and many don’t know whether they even exist, and they claim that they have never had any problem with their kids indulging in something inappropriate to their age. The conclusion parents come up to is that installing parental control software on their children’s computers is ineffective and not of much help. A recent study proves the ineffectiveness of such softwares:

“Results from a study released by the European Commission show that while a healthy 84% of the software programs tested enable parents to block access to certain websites, they are less efficient at filtering so-called web 2.0 content such as social networking sites or blogs.”

The reasons are many, starting first from the complexity of using such softwares. These softwares have too many functions, which most parents find it very difficult to operate. It consumes a lot of their precious time, and thus they find it more beneficial sticking to certain rules and regulations regarding computer usage. The privacy of kids


 is ruined, because most of the sites which they approach remain blocked, regardless of whether they contain explicit or inappropriate material or not. It curbs their freedom to surf on the internet about whatever they please to. Always checking on their kids, might prove to be very helpful and can make the parental control over them much stronger, but at the same time, the kids begin too much to be depended on their parents, and lose their thought of self control. A person needs to have the required knowledge of controlling himself on his own rather than depending on his parents or anyone else. But, if one has parents constantly overlooking their activities time and again, they lose the ability to keep a check on their own activities, and thus lead to great dependence over their parents. Disapproval of installation of such software may lead to great unhappiness and dissatisfaction among kids, thus posing greater hindrance in the relationship of parents and kids. Too much regulating them through these sites leads to distrust and arguments between children and parents, thus degrading their relationship.

At the same time, parental control softwares have too many functions. These functions prove to be really useful as they give the parents a total insight of all their kid’s activities. It helps them keep restricted time limits for their kids, so that they do not spend all the time on computer either playing games or surfing. . According to the Fosi Hart Report, 61% parents say they have blocked child’s Internet use by either setting up lock codes, or by restricting their downloading capacity of games and softwares.  Most of the content blocking is done by filter over the internet. There are many kinds of filters, Client side filters and Content Limited ISP’s (Internet Service Provider), Server filters and Search Engine filters. These regulate the surfing by children on very restricted sites, and servers for school libraries. For example, the Client side filters, used as softwares, can be disabled only by someone knowing or having the passwords. These filters are of great help to libraries because only some access points need to be filtered and not all. Content Limited ISP’s restrict many sites for children, and enable them to access only those sites which are assessed a multiple times for their appropriateness, content and media impact on the kids. Server filter sides are used mainly in educational institutions, wherein all the users are subject to the access policy defined by the institution. If parents have the above mentioned control methods on their children, they can curb down a lot of bad habits which their kids can get attracted to, like ignoring their academics and sitting in front of the desk all day long.

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Also there are some software which give direct information to the parents over their phone, about the activities of their kids over the computer or internet. This keeps them informed up to date about which sites their kids are accessing to, whom do they talk over the internet, what they download, what they type, almost everything.  All this leads to over blocking. Over blocking can filter out very important and essential information, such as health related issues. Yet, parents still find it acceptable to block such sites as they may lead to exposure of other sites. Parents also actively monitor their kids activities, which include logging on to their social networking accounts, reviewing their child’s browsing history, and even checking their phone GPS to know about their phone browsing internet sessions. The basic idea behind all this is just to ensure that the children are exposed to the right and appropriate information needed for them and that they don’t visit explicit or inappropriate websites. This way parents also keep a check on the types of games or softwares they download, because there are many types of software which are suitable only for a particular age group and not below that.

The next thoughtful question which arises is that:

How long these kids would be regulated by such control softwares?

The children who have had these softwares imposed upon them get uncontrollable once the parental control is lifted from them. Once the freedom after so many restrictions comes to them, they get very difficult to handle and thus they pick up more malpractices over the internet than those who have never had any control softwares installed in their desktops. The simple reason being that the children knew and got used to of what they are supposed to be viewing and what not. But as for the kids who want to enjoy their newly achieved freedom, they start getting addicted to chatting, playing video games, and frequently surfing those sites which are unhealthy and inappropriate for their age. Also, crimes like hacking come up to a rise then, as they do not have complete information about the whole lot of things which go on in the world of the net, the obvious reason being the over blocking of sites. Media and content exposure leaves a bad and dreadful impact on certain kids, and at one point they go out control. Parental control softwares might prove to be very good and beneficial in the short run, but in the long run they prove to be equally disappointing and useless, as these kids turn out to be more spoilt and prone to such unhealthy content over websites.

Installing parental control softwares on children’s computers leads to not only depriving them of some required information, but also leads to misunderstandings in their relationships. Psychiatrists believe that the parents who keep too much of control over their kids have trust issues in their relationship, which in turn leaves the child’s mind in a disturbed state. No kid likes to stay in the belief that their parents do not have faith and trust in them, and that terror breaks true when they find themselves controlled by such softwares installed by their parents, depressing and disturbing them more. It is always good to know the safety of kids, but that does not mean the total and complete leakage of their kid’s personal information and curbing their space totally. Children these days enjoy want to enjoy their space and parents getting uselessly involved in their personal matters plays with their temper. Logging onto their social networking accounts deprives them of the freedom to interact and talk to their friends as and so they feel like. It deprives them of the normal freedom of communicating and getting to know more and expanding their knowledge on various other things.

The conclusion is that it is not at all necessary to install parental control softwares on children’s computers as it is very complex in nature, involves huge and expensive costs, misunderstanding and trust issues between parent and children relationship, curbing of privacy and freedom to communicate and learn, and by the end of the day it is not useful in the long run. Children should be taught how to be dependent and should experience and know what is right and wrong for them. If all their lives they are controlled by their parents, they will hardly know the difference of what is appropriate or inappropriate for them. They should be given a chance to control their own self and keep a check their own activities.

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