New Russian software claims it can make the Internet a safer place for children. RT puts the novelty to the test.
With more than 10 million underage Internet users in Russia alone, online dangers are no longer a virtual reality.
“I don’t want any perverts to try and take advantage of any of my children. It’s the most worrying thing for me about the Internet,” Eric Jansma, IT specialist and business consultant, told RT.
Official statistics claim that 40% of these children visit porn sites. Often, the social networks are giving directions.
“I used to spend time on social nets before I found out some people were sending out porn links on them,” young Mira Jansma, Eric’s daughter, told RT. “One girl, a friend of mine, once wanted to send me a link so I could watch anime. I’ve become cautious since then and spend less time on it, but it’s difficult as most of my friends use it.”
Alarmed by the trend, Russian programmers have come up with a solution.
“Home Alone” is the first filtering program that can monitor content on social networking sites. Apart from blocking the usual pornography, gambling, violence and drug-related material, it also tackles social networks – the latest cyber playgrounds.
Current protection software is based on key-word filters, but “Home Alone” actually reads a website’s content which, the program’s founder says, makes it a lot more effective.
“Negative content is optimized by seemingly positive words,” Ivan Tonkikh, creator of “Home Alone” told RT. “For instance, ‘mommy’ is a word that optimizes pornographic content. Can we block it? Probably not, as the word itself is positive. But we see what other words are on the same websites, such as ‘boobs’, and thus we can block that site.”
Ivan believes that his program is 70-90% effective. However, children themselves say that simple blocking of undesirable content is not the best solution.
“It seems to me that if parents forbid a kid to watch something, he is most likely to want to watch it. He’ll be looking for ways to do it,” Mira believes.
Furthermore, fear is a popular marketing tool for internet security – as it exploits parents’ ignorance of their children’s activities.
Psychologists say that ignorance in itself is the root of the problem.
“Alienation can easily form within a family when parents don’t communicate or spend time with their children,” psychologist Aleksandr Shadura, from the Institute of Harmonious Development and Adaptation, told RT. “It’s important to form an alternative reality for the child and to show them that the world’s interesting on its own, and that there are other things one can derive different pleasures from.”