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Research|What are children doing online?

Konstantin Ignatev
Kaspersky Lab Expert
Posted June 03, 09:14  GMT
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Kaspersky Lab’s mission is to protect the world from viruses. But the company also believes it has a duty to safeguard our children from content which could be harmful to youngsters. In order to carry out this important task, Kaspersky Lab’s products integrate a special component named Parental Control.

This component allows caring parents to control their children’s computer and Internet activity.  For example, Parental Control allows parents to easily restrict the time their children spend using the computer or surfing the web.

In addition, Parental Control enables parents to restrict the launch of certain applications and to monitor their children's activities on social networks and chat sites. One of the most important functions of this module is to limit access to potentially harmful web resources. Many of these, of course, are adult content sites. However, social networks, forums and even online stores can also pose a threat. The module currently includes 14 different categories of sites, enabling parents to decide which are undesirable for their child. Here are the categories:

  1. Pornography, erotic materials
  2. Illegal software
  3. Drugs
  4. Violence
  5. Explicit language
  6. Weapons
  7. Gambling
  8. Forums and chats
  9. Web mail
  10. Online stores
  11. Social networks
  12. Anonymous proxy servers
  13. Payment systems
  14. Casual games

About a year ago we described how Parental Control worked with different web resources. At that time the statistics only considered resources which had been blocked by the Parental Control tools. Since then we have improved the mechanism of collecting statistical data and now we can identify the categories of sites which are most popular with youngsters, regardless of whether Parental Control allows them to visit or not.

That is why our worldwide statistics on the sites most frequently visited by children in 2013 varies considerably from the previous year’s figures.

 
The sites most often visited by children worldwide

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The Parental Control component in our products has already been described in detail. The component’s main task is to help parents safeguard their children from the hidden dangers of uncontrolled use of computers and the Internet. By default the component is not enabled – it has to be activated by the parents themselves.

Parental Control puts parents in charge of all their children’s online activities. This includes scheduling the days and hours the computer can be used and the Internet accessed, restricting how your child can communicate in chat rooms and social networks as well as saving any correspondence, and, importantly, blocking access to websites with harmful or undesirable content.

There are 14 such categories of sites in Kaspersky Lab products. Parents can decide which type of sites their child will not be able to access. When Parental Control is activated, access to the following categories of websites is blocked automatically:

  1. Pornography, erotic materials
  2. Illegal software
  3. Drugs
  4. Violence
  5. Explicit language
  6. Weapons
  7. Gambling
  8. Anonymous proxy servers

Any of the above categories can be unblocked if necessary, while the following categories can also be added to the list:

  1. Forums and chats
  2. Web mail
  3. Online stores
  4. Social networks
  5. Payment systems
  6. Casual games

Kaspersky Security Network (KSN) helps us gather statistics from users of Kaspersky Lab products, including alerts triggered by the Parental Control component.

 
Breakdown of alerts triggered by the Parental Control component worldwide, March-August 2012

It should be noted that the breakdown depends not only on the number of attempts to access websites from a category blocked by Parental Control but also on the specific categories that have been flagged by parents.

The Top 10 includes those categories of sites that are flagged automatically when the Parental Control component is activated, plus two of the categories that have to be activated by parents – ‘Social networks’ and ‘Online shopping’. Three categories lead the others by a wide margin, with ‘Pornography, erotic materials’ way out in front. Every month KSN registers 60 million attempts to access sites from this category on computers where this category was flagged in Kaspersky Lab’s Parental Control component. ‘Social networks’ is in second place with 16 million alerts per month, followed closely by ‘Illegal software’ (14.3 million alerts per month).

Does the breakdown of Parental Control alerts differ from country to country? To find out, we compared the alerts triggered by the component in countries from different parts of the world, namely Russia, Germany, the UK, the US, Japan, Brazil and Saudi Arabia.

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The Pornography category in the Parental Control system of Kaspersky Lab’s home user products is triggered over 4 million times a day. In other words, there are about 3,000 attempts to access adult content sites by minors every minute. This is confirmed by data collected worldwide using Kaspersky Security Network technology.


Number of times the Pornography category was triggered
in the Parental Control module

As can be seen from the graph compiled by the Web Content Analysis Group at Kaspersky Lab, the majority of attempts to enter porn sites are made in the evening with a peak of activity at 11 pm.

The Parental Control module implemented in Kaspersky PURE and Kaspersky Internet Security 2011 allows parents to restrict the time that children are permitted to use the Internet and the computer. They can also restrict the download of inappropriate files from the Internet, regulate access to specific programs and sites and log their children’s instant messaging and social networking communications on ICQ, MSN and other similar sites.

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