The latest edition (Version 4.0) of my PFF special report on "Parental Controls and Online Child Protection: A Survey of Tools & Methods" is now up. For those not familiar with the report, it explores the market for parental control tools, rating schemes, education and media literacy efforts, and various other tools, methods, and initiatives aimed at promoting online child safety. After evaluating that state of this market, I conclude: "There has never been a time in our nation's history when parents have had more tools and methods at their disposal to help them decide what constitutes acceptable media content in their homes and in the lives of their children." Moreover, I believe that the parental controls and content management tools cataloged in the report represent a better, less restrictive alternative to government regulation.
Version 4.0 of the report is now over 250 pages long (up from 200 pages in Version 3.0) and it contains almost 70 exhibits (up from 50), 725 references (up from roughly 500), and numerous updates in all five sections of the book. Major updates have been made to the Internet, social networking, and mobile media sections, reflecting the growing importance of those sectors and issues. Other new sections or appendices have also been added to the report, including:
- a new section examining how many households really need parental control tools;
- a new appendix on the downsides of mandatory parental controls and restrictive default settings;
- a new section on the dangers of "deputizing the online middleman" solution as an approach to solving child safety concerns;
- a new appendix reviewing the findings of 5 past online safety task forces;
- ... and much more.
I issue major updates once a year and 1 or 2 minor tweaks during the course of the year to reflect the evolution of the parental control and online child safety marketplace and debate. The report is available free-of-charge
on the PFF website, and the previous editions of the report are housed there too in case you want to see how it has evolved over the past couple of years. For those interested in taking a quick look at the report, I have embedded it down below the fold as a Scribd file. Finally, as is always the case, I encourage readers to send me updates and suggestions for how to improve the report and I will incorporate them into future versions.