The internet is a valuable, strategic resource, but it harbors a number of risks, especially for users who are most unaware of the dangers that may lurk in the depths of the web. In this article, we focus upon the risks present for the youngest users and see how FlashStart’s DNS cleanbrowsing software can ensure their safety anytime, anywhere.
1. Together for a better internet
February 8 was Safer Internet Day, the international day for a more secure internet. The event is held annually and aims to promote safer use of the internet and new technologies for children and young people around the world.
The target audience is, therefore, a young audience, because educating internet users about the more responsible usage of online resources today can contribute to a better internet tomorrow. Indeed, the mantra of the initiative is “Together for a better internet.”
The size of the network on which the event is based is quite impressive. Created in 2004, Safer Internet Day can now count on a wide range of promoters, from the European Centers for Internet Safety to the Global Safer Internet Day Committees, to associations and organizations of varying sizes.
This network also includes the European Commission, which has been active for some time now with various projects which aim at building a safer internet on the continent and, above all, at creating policies, at the community level, for the management of the web, with an eye on a safer future.
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1.1 Measures in Europe
In May this year, a couple of months after Safer Internet Day, the Commission launched the New European Strategy for a Better Internet for Girls and Boys. The strategy starts with the assumption that the internet “is a great place to learn, play, share, watch, connect, express oneself,” and has the three-fold objective of:
» Making the digital world safe by ensuring that young people see only age-appropriate contents, do not feel uncomfortable, sad, or embarrassed by the content to which they are exposed on the web, and are protected from online bullying and hate speech.
» Having young people develop the skills, knowledge, and support needed to learn how to use the internet safely, even when adult supervision is not present, knowing how to distinguish between what is true and false and between trustworthy and untrustworthy parties.
» Enable younger people to have their say and, therefore, to safely express their opinions on issues which matter to them, using the appropriate channels.
1.2 The strategy in America
The focus on younger children online in the United States has been moving forward since the year 2000, when the U.S. Congress passed the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). The CIPA requires that all public schools and libraries which receive discounts for internet access through a state program must show that they have an internet safety policy supported by technology and, specifically, by protective measures aimed at blocking access to contents that are considered obscene or dangerous.
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2. The risks for the youngest users
The above-mentioned efforts by the European Commission and the U.S. Congress, along with the desire to focus specifically on younger children, illustrate how pervasive the issue is. Exposing young children to dangers on the web and, especially, to online content that can adversely affect their mental health and psychological development is a widespread problem.
These risks are also linked to specific physiological reasons. Indeed, psychologist and psychotherapist Giuseppe Lavenia, who specializes in technological addictions, points out that “During adolescence, brain development is not yet complete, and there is no effective communication between the various brain regions. Therefore, emotions can emerge quickly and intensely without the ability of executive functions which are present in the developing prefrontal cortex to regulate them.
This is why adolescents are often governed by action rather than reflection and by emotion rather than reason. This, in itself, already clearly exposes them physiologically to greater risks because of their reduced sense of limits and danger.”
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3. Preventive measures: DNS cleanbrowsing training and software
Given the potential dangers to development linked to the exposure of inappropriate online contents, and given the lower sensitivity of younger people to risks in general, it is essential to devise preventive measures that will allow them to have a peaceful and fruitful internet experience.
The prevention and awareness campaigns that many agencies are spearheading are important and can have a positive effect, especially in school settings, where young people meet with each other under adult supervision.
However, unfortunately, raising awareness among children is not enough, as the problem has a very broad range. This requires the help of technology, which is, therefore, both the cause and a good solution to the problem.
In this regard, the use of DNS cleanbrowsing software has become one of the most popular practices for limiting exposure to unwanted contents which can have equally undesirable effects on the growth and development of young people.
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4. FlashStart: DNS cleanbrowsing which protects young people
With a history of more than two decades in online content filtering, FlashStart offers a DNS cleanbrowsing tool suited to meet the online safety needs of young and old alike.
4.1 FlashStart: a complete tool for all-around safety
FlashStart’s DNS cleanbrowsing software is a comprehensive tool. In fact, it can be set up to block access to every type of content imaginable:
» Dangerous contents: the FlashStart tool automatically blocks all contents deemed to be hazardous to the security of the PC and the data it contains or the networks connected to it. In fact, attempts to access sites carrying malware, Trojans, ransomware, viruses, sites related to phishing attempts and online fraud are blocked. To learn more, read our related article.
» Unwanted contents: these are the contents that we discussed above, so primarily sexual and violent contents, but also online gaming platforms and sites related to illegal trafficking. In this post, we discuss, in detail, how web filter services work.
» Distracting content: this category includes all audio and video streaming platforms, online shopping sites, and all social networks that are now an integral part of children’s lives and often affect their choices and actions. Click here for more information about sites that cause distractions and how to block them.
» Other contents: the network administrator can decide for himself/herself to add specific sites that he/she does not want users to access by creating his/her own personal blacklists.
>> If you have already activated FlashStart, read this guide which explains how to extend Blacklists for internet DNS filtering.
4.2 FlashStart: DNS cleanbrowsing suitable for the youngest users
When a user types in the name of the site he or she wants to reach, FlashStart’s DNS cleanbrowsing performs a super-quick check in the FlashStart cloud to see if this site is part of the blocked ones, either automatically by the tool or as an add-on by the network administrator.
FlashStart is suitable for young people because its controls are extremely fast. Thanks to the global anycast network on which it is based, it provides total redundancy with multiple data centers operating at major national interchange points. This allows for near-zero latency, an element that counts FlashStart among the top ten global DNSs and makes it suitable for young users who want everything immediately.
When a user tries to access a site that is part of a category blocked by the administrator, access is blocked, and a warning message appears on the screen. What if users think that they can bypass the protection? FlashStart is extremely secure: the only way to bypass the protection is by entering a specific password in the tool’s control panel, which is accessed only with restricted credentials.
4.3 FlashStart: active and up-to-date protection, anytime, anywhere
Finally, Flashstart uses a mix of artificial intelligence and machine learning in order to constantly scan the internet, searching for new threats, and, therefore, to guarantee continuously updated protection.
Artificial intelligence is a system of algorithms which allows a machine to imitate processes which are typical to the human mind, such as reasoning and learning, in order to be able to make reasonable decisions. Flashstart’s artificial intelligence examines up to 200 thousand sites every day, supports twenty-four languages, and recognizes ninety categories of sites based upon content.
You can take advantage of FlashStart’s AI-based, DNS, cleanbrowsing tool anywhere:
» When installed at the router level, FlashStart provides protection and security for all devices connected to the network.
» When installed at the individual device level via the ClientShield application, FlashStart guarantees protection of the user’s pc, tablet, or smartphone wherever the user is, continuously filtering the content he or she wants to access.
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You can activate the FlashStart® Cloud protection on any sort of Router and Firewall to secure desktop and mobile devices and IoT devices on local networks.