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Education The Internet

What Filters Are Right For Kids? 678

Posted by timothy
from the cue-the-scorn-cannons dept.
WaywardGeek writes "My daughter is using phrases like 'hot guys,' and soon will have a chat about the birds and the bees. I believe in letting kids discover the world as it is, and have no Internet controls on any of our systems, which are mostly Linux based. However, it's not fair for aggressive porn advertisers to splash sex in her face without her permission. My question is: What Linux-based Internet filtering solution do Slashdot dads favor, and do they hinder a child's efforts to learn about the world?"
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What Filters Are Right For Kids?

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  • The simple one. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MoodyLoner (76734) <moodyloner.ca@nOspaM.gmail.com> on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @01:21PM (#27227855) Homepage Journal

    Keep the computer in the living room.

    • Re:The simple one. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PhilHibbs (4537) <snarks@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @01:25PM (#27227943) Homepage Journal

      That isn't going to help against accidental clicks on spam links that take you to places you didn't want to go. What the OP wants is something that prevents accidental exposure to offensive content.

      • Re:The simple one. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cayenne8 (626475) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @01:36PM (#27228253) Homepage Journal
        "That isn't going to help against accidental clicks on spam links that take you to places you didn't want to go. What the OP wants is something that prevents accidental exposure to offensive content."

        I have to ask...do people REALLY that often, hit porn sites by accident?

        I mean, I can count on one hand (I know I know) the number of times I've actually had porn flash up on my browser when I was not looking for it....in all these years.

        How bad a problem is this actually? From anecdotal evidence, I'd have to guess if someone has porn on the screen....they were looking for it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          I have to ask...do people REALLY that often, hit porn sites by accident?

          No.

        • Re:The simple one. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Sowelu (713889) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @01:50PM (#27228535)
          Think back to when you were ten, you put a random term into Google, and clicked the first link.

          Or, "I wonder what this ad is about, I think I'll click it".

          It doesn't happen to people who are more experienced internet users, but it does happen. If you didn't use the internet at that age, it probably didn't happen to you.
          • Re:The simple one. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by flitty (981864) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @02:03PM (#27228769)
            Ok, but now you know exactly how to spot bad links and suspicious websites, right? So this is a skill that can be learned.

            I say, put the computer in the living room, Teach your damn kid what a red flag for a suspicious link/website looks like, and use firefox/noscript/adblock. Those three things should be enough for 99% of people on the net. Otherwise, she's looking for it.
          • by Mr. Firewall (578517) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @02:03PM (#27228771) Homepage

            Think back to when you were ten, you put a random term into Google

            When I was ten, a google was a fixed (i.e., not random) value. Also:

            • The World Wide Web did not exist.
            • For that matter the INTERNET did not exist.
            • I had never seen a color TV (though I had heard about them, and was curious)
            • Home electronics ran on vacuum tubes.
            • John F. Kennedy was President of the United States.

            So, no, I can't relate to your example. Now get off my lawn.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by lbbros (900904)
            Actually it can happen even for experienced users. A Google search for the color of the plumes of a bird (which my colleagues had found and wanted to know the gender) made me realize there were a LOT of other synonyms for female genitalia that I didn't even know...
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by LordVader717 (888547)

            If it came up with a porn site, chances are it wasn't a random term. I used to try sometimes to see how fast I could "click" my way from a respectable site to explicit images, by solely using the links on site.

            In conclusion it's safe to say that it doesn't happen very often. If you activate Google's safesearch you can't really find any even if you're looking.

            It's perfectly normal for kids to be curious about sex. It's up to you if you want to allow them to look at the stuff on the internet. They sure as hel

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by k.a.f. (168896)

          I have to ask...do people REALLY that often, hit porn sites by accident?

          Here's an anecdote for ya: I've been using the WWW since I got a university account in 1993. As it happens, the first time I accidentally loaded a NSFW page, ever, was... today. (I was googling "LaTeX font color", of all things...)

          So, anecdotally, I'd have to say: no, not really. YMMV.

          • Re:The simple one. (Score:4, Insightful)

            by JCSoRocks (1142053) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @02:08PM (#27228897)
            I agree. I've been cruising around the 'net since around the same time ('93/'94) and I've never accidentally found myself on a NSFW page. I've been rick rolled plenty, but thankfully there are no memes that involve duping people into going to NSFW sites and getting written up by HR.

            However, I'm not going to say it's impossible. I know of people that have accidentally gone to whitehouse.com rather than .gov. A child learning about the Internet and trying to do a report on the White House could easily make the same mistake.
            • by dawich (945673) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @02:12PM (#27228969)
              I've gone to whitehouse.com in front of ~80 people, deans and other faculty mainly, doing a presentation on Netscape 2 and all the nifty features including domain completion. "And here you can see I type in 'stanford' and it goes to www.stanford.edu without typing anymore. A handy shortcut. Let's try another, whitehouse, let's see what the president is doi.... aww crap." Projected on a 50' screen. Lovely day.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by gnick (1211984)

              I've been rick rolled plenty, but thankfully there are no memes that involve duping people into going to NSFW sites and getting written up by HR.

              Really? I've seen more than a couple of goatse links here on /. that were pretending to be something else - I'd classify that as NSFW. It's just that most of us have at one point or another run in to goatse and know to avoid it. And /. is not a place people come looking for porn - I could understand this guy's daughter noticing that her dad has "News For Nerds" bookmarked, wandering in here, and then clicking on a link that would flash some really nasty stuff in her face.

              [poor-attempt-at-humor] To help o

        • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @02:09PM (#27228915)

          I have to ask...do people REALLY that often, hit porn sites by accident?

          Yes, every time my wife or boss walks in and there's porn on the screen? Accident.

        • Re:The simple one. (Score:4, Informative)

          by Ephemeriis (315124) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @02:11PM (#27228947)

          I have to ask...do people REALLY that often, hit porn sites by accident?

          I mean, I can count on one hand (I know I know) the number of times I've actually had porn flash up on my browser when I was not looking for it....in all these years.

          How bad a problem is this actually? From anecdotal evidence, I'd have to guess if someone has porn on the screen....they were looking for it.

          Depends on the situation, the user, etc... But, yes, it does happen accidentally.

          You can throw some pretty innocent phrases into Google and get some pretty interesting results. Some torrent search sites, which are very popular for folks looking to download music, have pretty explicit advertising on them. And it's entirely too easy to wind up on somebody's mailing list and get deluged with advertisements for various adult services. Some malware pops up advertising as well, sometimes it is of the adult variety.

      • One or two random links isn't going to cause damage, even goatse.cx

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by snowraver1 (1052510)
      The most important thing that you can do is to properly educate her. Obviously don't encourage porn, but you shouldn't need to actually block it. Let her know the rules, and tell her the consequence if she breaks then (no computer for a week). Let her be in control.
    • by larien (5608)
      That doesn't stop the drive-by porn pop-ups (and before you say it, pop-up blockers are only partiall effective these days).
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by arthurpaliden (939626)
        There is a big difference between being exposed to it and being left alone in an environment where you can be drawn into it.
    • She's a girl (Score:2, Interesting)

      by BadAnalogyGuy (945258)

      Her interest in sex is pretty much limited to looking at cute guys in her class and in teen magazines.

      Girls aren't as affected by the visual stimulation from porn ads. At least not to the extent that boys are.

      She's not going to be any better off because you start filtering her internet. It's like wrestling a pig. It's dirty and tiresome and just pisses the pig off.

    • Mod parent down (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sowelu (713889) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @01:30PM (#27228105)
      -1, totally missing the point. The OP specifically wants to let his kid explore. However, exploring kids are quite likely to wind up places THEY don't want to be, once they start looking around. I'm sure you can think of a few search terms that might give you relevant, useful information on Wikipedia...but that you might not ever want to type into GIS. Heck, my reading of the question was more like "How can I let her wander the internet ON HER OWN, going wherever she wants, without having to call me in to close a barrage of pop-up windows".
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Borealis (84417)

      I second this one. Filterware is a bogus solution in just about any case, as there will always be sites it doesn't filter that it should and sites that it does filter that it shouldn't. The best solution is to put the computer in a place where you can always see what is being looked at.

      My son's computer is directly beside mine.

      Also, as embarrassing as it may be for you, teaching your children comprehensive sex education at an early age won't hurt them any.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      well if you want your kids to learn fast, just grab your favorite open source browser and hard-code the URL so she can only go to Belladonna's website. Make sure you provide her with a credit card too. After a month or so you can rest assured that nothing on the internet will really shock her anymore. Then you can set her browser back to normal.

      there. another problem solved by asking slashdot.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by interkin3tic (1469267)

      Keep the computer in the living room.

      Of course that increases the chances that you'll walk into an embarassing situation for both you and your kid.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Duradin (1261418)
        And we can't have people getting embarrassed. That'd hurt their feelings and rack up all sorts of bills at the therapist. And ignorance forbid, someone might actually learn a life lesson.
  • Cheesecloth works pretty good to get the chunks out.

  • by aapold (753705) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @01:23PM (#27227903) Homepage Journal

    Filter or no filter, its just bad for them especially at that age.

  • Adblock (Score:5, Informative)

    by antifoidulus (807088) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @01:23PM (#27227923) Homepage Journal
    Seriously, if all you are worried about is her getting porn ads when she doesn't want them, just use adblock.
    • If he wants a filter that is more difficult to bypass by the child, Privoxy is pretty handy.

      • Re:Privoxy (Score:4, Informative)

        by LateArthurDent (1403947) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @02:02PM (#27228739)

        If he wants a filter that is more difficult to bypass by the child, Privoxy is pretty handy.

        Well, he specifically said he doesn't. He said he "believes in letting kids discover the world as it is" and that it's not fair for porn advertisers to display sex "without her permission," he didn't say his. I think that means he wants her to be able to bypass it if she wants to, but doesn't want her to be exposed to things she's not specifically looking for.

        Pretty reasonable stance, and I think adblock is the way to go.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Joe Tie. (567096)
        And if she does change it, hey, she just learned an important lesson about proxies.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by UncleTogie (1004853)

        My ex keeps trying various filtering software to keep my eldest son {age 14} from viewing porn... with pretty predictable results. One Google search for a workaround, and he's back in business.

        I was more than amused when she tried to complain to me. "Gee, son, follow the rules" was what came out of my mouth, although I couldn't keep from smiling. "Way to figure it out and disable it so you can see what you're so curious about!" was what was going through my mind, though.

        Heck, when I was his age, I was hip-d

    • by Itninja (937614) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @01:34PM (#27228195) Homepage
      With those two in place she will never see a dirty picture she didn't look for. More than once I have recommended a site (usually a hacking or cracking site) to a friend and had them remark on how much porn advertising was on the site and all the porn popup ads. I hadn't even realized it because I was using AdBlock[er] and NoScript and wasn't seeing any of that.
    • by MightyYar (622222)

      What he said, but with slightly more detail. Use Adblock Plus [adblockplus.org] and (assuming you are in the US), subscribe to EasyList, which now also blocks (well, technically just hides) ad elements... formerly you had to subscribe to EasyElement as well.

  • by SlappyBastard (961143) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @01:24PM (#27227937) Homepage
    Um . . . "splash sex in her face" . . . oooooh-kaaaaaay . . .
  • The filter in their own brain.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I suggest you filter all your daughter's internet queries through a time machine that leads to a not so distant past where "splash in her face" was not a part of the male collective consciousness.

  • Use openDNS (Score:5, Informative)

    by sammy_cda (783295) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @01:26PM (#27227993)
    Use openDNS and set up an account. Point your router's DNS settings to their servers. It allows a few different levels of filtering. You can change the levels of filtering as she grows older.
  • Adblock (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nick Ives (317) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @01:27PM (#27228013)

    I never, ever see porn ads because I've got Adblock Plus installed in FF. If she prefers IE for some weird reason then just put an ad-filtering web-proxy on your network like Junkbuster [junkbuster.com].

    Redirect all outbound connection attempts on port 80 through your router to that proxy and you'll be good to go. That way she won't have porn ads splashed in her face but she'll still be able to Google for hot guys [google.com] with SafeSearch turned off :).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @01:27PM (#27228027)

    That should scare her away for a couple of decades.

  • OpenDNS (Score:4, Informative)

    by jkupko (645842) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @01:28PM (#27228039)
    Just change your DNS servers to OpenDNS (http://www.opendns.com/ [opendns.com]) and register your IP with them. You can use their category-based filtering to block the pr0n. Block adware, malware, and phishing while you're at it. Oh, and enjoy a faster DNS service and extensive stats pages. If you are worried about a dynamic IP from your ISP, don't be: most ISP's preferentially reassign IPs to customers instead of switching it up. Happy censoring!
    • Re:OpenDNS (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wykell (1323665) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @01:37PM (#27228261)
      I'm a big fan of OpenDNS. It makes my browsing faster than dealing with my ISP's overloaded DNS servers, and allows me full control over my network. For safety reasons, so far I have blocked NBA.com, and I occasionally block perezhilton.com, just to piss my girlfriend off.

      As far as "filters" for kids - I grew up with a liberal(ish) mother who taught Sexual Education courses for a while. I was exposed to all of her programs, from "abstinence only" to "safer sex" and everything in between, and to be honest, what I learned from that level of exposure is that the BEST defense is a good offense. Teach your kid the values of sexuality you feel are healthiest and know that no matter how much you try to keep them protected from exposure to "bad" things, they are going to find those things on their own, one way or another. Giving kids the proper tools and knowledge on how to deal with the "bad things" is far better than trying to protect them with any sort of shell.

  • by StevenMaurer (115071) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @01:29PM (#27228077) Homepage

    That seems reasonable enough. If your daughter isn't actually going looking for porn.

    If she is, you need to have a talk. Not porn=bad because that won't work. Rather: porn=unrealistic. And that she needs to understand that much of what she will see is the result of payment to foolish and desperate people.

    Oh, and build up her self-esteem. That is the critical factor in teen girls getting into situations they're not ready for.

  • Adblock for Firefox should keep out most of the unwanted ads. The best thing you can do is keep the computer in the living room but try and let her have as much privacy as possible.
  • by SlappyBastard (961143) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @01:30PM (#27228109) Homepage

    And we all turned out alright.

    Your kids are gonna find out. Accept it. The right approach is education. And not retarded "well, ya see, when a boy and girl really, really like each other" education. Real education. And approval thereof. Tell them about condoms. Tell them about birth control. Tell them about a pumpkin-sized blood-covered creature ripping out of the girl's crotch leaving behind so much damage that the doctor quits using stitches and opts to replace everything with a steel plate.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SoTuA (683507)

      Sure, we weren't filtered, because there was no internet to be filtered when we (most of us, at least) where growing up. I was born in the mid-70's, my parents had to worry about me somehow getting my hands on a skin mag or betamax video (both of them non-easy propositions), whereas these days there's more porn you can shake your stick at just a click away on the internet.

      Other than the nitpick (this is slashdot, after all), I fully agree on education. I intend to educate my children - I don't want them t

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gknoy (899301)

      Your kids are gonna find out. Accept it. The right approach is education.

      If theoriginal poster is like me, he's relatively OK with his kids looking for pictures of naked people, once they are of an appropriate age. We're realistic to recognize that there's not a thing we can do to completely stop a determined seeker. However, the primary concern was prevention of accidental stumblings. There are many terms which your child might want to search for, and that you don't want them to find. Imagine if your d

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @01:32PM (#27228157) Homepage

    My question is: What Linux-based Internet filtering solution do Slashdot dads favor, and do they hinder a child's efforts to learn about the world?"

    It may go against conventional wisdom on Slashdot, but filters don't particularly hinder a child's efforts to learn about the world. If there is something that they want to see, they can ask you if it's ok and you can unblock it. That's the 21st century version of the way that parents used to do it. Part of being a parent is being a gatekeeper. Some information your kids just need to be largely innocent of until they become adults. It's one thing to know that the ugly side of the world exists. It's another thing to take few measures to stop your kids from participating in it out of curiosity.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      It's one thing to know that the ugly side of the world exists. It's another thing to take few measures to stop your kids from participating in it out of curiosity.

      Just out of curiosity, were you thinking of sex when you wrote that? Or things like war, crime, and politics?

  • AdBlock (Score:3, Informative)

    by Todd Knarr (15451) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @01:33PM (#27228159) Homepage

    Being Linux, you're likely using FireFox or one of it's builds (eg. Debian's IceWeasel). I recommend the AdBlock add-on, and possibly the NoScript add-on as well. In the process of blocking ads in general, AdBlock's going to get most of the porn ads as well. Set up bogofilter for e-mail filtering and you'll quickly get all the spam (including all the porn spam) diverted into a junk folder (Thunderbird has similar filtering built-in with it's junk-mail flagging feature, I use bogofilter mainly because I alternate between Thunderbird and Pine as my mail readers and want the junk-mail filtering to happen regardless of which one I'm using at the moment). That should take care of the majority of the problem. What's left will be search result spam, and those are mostly obvious from reading the result without having to visit the site to find out.

  • NOW.

    Filter out the obvious stuff. You won't stop a dedicated teen from finding what they want, but you can try to stop them from getting things they don't want that are inappropriate.
    I have a daughter and a son, and yes, knowing there will be a day when my kids are looking for 'Hot [Gender of choice]' scares the shit out of me.

  • Filters (Score:3, Funny)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @01:35PM (#27228225)

    What Filters Are Right For Kids?

    Today mine got up at 5 a.m. My answer would have to be, "coffee filters".

  • it's not fair for aggressive porn advertisers to splash sex in her face without her permission. My question is: What Linux-based Internet filtering solution do Slashdot dads favor

    Instead of using a filter maybe a hosts file [wikipedia.org] would work better for you. Google [google.com] has a number of results where you can download one. Basically what they are are files with URLs and IP addresses that are directed to the local host. If you try to go to pornadvertizing.com it will look for it on your computer. It's easy to add and r

  • You could always check her history file, and see where she's been going. Of course, when she finds out you're spying on her, she'll probably run away and become a pole dancer...

    But seriously, I use Adblock Plus, and I haven't seen a porn or pop-up ad in months.

  • Setup a proxy that uses a whitelist. You should be approving every single site she goes to. It'll be annoying for a little while, while you add all the sites she regularly goes to, but after a while each time she asks for a new site, it'll be a good opportunity to talk to her about what she's doing online.

  • DansGuardian (Score:4, Informative)

    by pjbgravely (751384) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `2ylevargbjp'> on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @01:38PM (#27228309) Homepage Journal
    DansGuardian [dansguardian.org]

    Either put it on their desktop or install on a server if they use OSX/Microsoft windows.
  • Not Vantage! They have a hole in them. The manufacturer knows about the hole in the filter and will do absolutely nothing to patch it. They consider it a "feature" instead of a bug. Yeah right...

  • by dr_dank (472072) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @01:44PM (#27228407) Homepage Journal

    I only whitelist the sites that teach good lessons for their development into adulthood:

    Zombo.com: You can do ANYTHING there.

    Goatse: What better way to show what one can accomplish if you put your mind to it?

    2G1C: Teamwork and empowerment

    Lemonparty: Appreciation for the elderly.

    I'd list more, but CPS is here. Must be donation season or something.

  • by Beelzebud (1361137) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @01:47PM (#27228485)
    You demand that the government censor the entire internet for the safety of The Children!

    ;)
  • by yuna49 (905461) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @02:01PM (#27228721)

    I've been a single father for most of the past sixteen years. I did hardly anything to screen out offensive material when my daughter was younger. Not only that, I let her have her own computer in her room, so I wasn't there to watch over her shoulder either.

    What I did do was set up transparent proxying through Squid on the Linux box that runs as our house firewall so I could scan the logs from time to time and see where she was going. She knew that her usage was being logged, but beyond that I did nothing at all. In reality a much bigger problem than porn was the extent to which supposedly kid-friendly sites actually contained a large proportion of drive-by installs mostly for advertising crap. I ended up with a Squid acl list largely composed of places like atwola.com and Gator. I never had to add a block for any site containing pornographic or other questionable materials. After a couple of rounds of cleaning this type of junk off her (then Windows) computer, I decided the only solution was to block it at the router. These days she uses Ubuntu, so adware is much less of a problem.

    The bigger problem actually began when I let her have an email account (indeed she owns her own domain). Despite years of experience scanning email for myself and my clients, it was still impossible to keep the occasional attached gif from getting through. Unfortunately these tend to the more disgusting end of the porn spectrum; I would have been less disturbed by her seeing more conventional sexual behaviors. The couple of times this happened she mentioned it to me and said she had deleted the offending message immediately. We had a talk about not opening messages from people you didn't know, but often a graphic will show up in the message preview windows (in Thunderbird in our case) without any active choice by the reader.

    Now I only have the one girl, so I don't know how generalizable this experience might be. I do know that, at seventeen, she harbors little or no interest in porn and had, if anything, even less interest in it at 11-13. If she were male, the story might have been different. However my attitudes about her Internet usage were consistent with the general degree of freedom I permitted her in other realms of life. She always had a lot of freedom and today seems much more mature and self-disciplined than some of her friends and acquaintances who grew up in stricter households. I'm proud to call her my daughter.

  • "soon"? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by v1 (525388) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @02:34PM (#27229411) Homepage Journal

    My daughter is using phrases like 'hot guys,' and soon will have a chat about the birds and the bees

    Since there isn't always a clear red flag to let you know the absolute last minute you can put that conversation off, you should get it out of the way when the time is approaching. Procrastination here is not a good thing.

    By the time my parents worked up the nerve, my school had already provided me with good sex-ed. I think in some respects I knew more than they did, which was kinda funny. Correcting your parents during this chat just makes them turn different shades of red and purple. Not many schools do that though, but if you wait too long you too may get to experience that.

  • by LordKazan (558383) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @05:00PM (#27232495) Homepage Journal

    The worst thing you could possibly do is to try and block her attempts to get to content she really wants to get to.

    However blocking accidental is really easy: remove IE if you haven't already, install Firefox if you haven't already and get the Ad Block Plus addon and subscribe to the EasyList USA blacklist. Ads.. what are ads?

    now... just be honest and straight up with her about the birds and the bees.. and if she wants to look at stuff.. well she is going to look at stuff. It's not unhealthy, despite what our unhealthy prudish sexually-repressive culture wants to say.

    (OMG! my 10 year old saw a titty on a movie! he's going to be a mass murderer now!)

    Caveat: I am not a parent YET, but don't expect to change my opinions on this by the time i have kids of that age.

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