SIP BENCH III – Benchmarking of parental control tools
The objective of this study is to help end users – notably parents and child carers – to choose the most appropriate parental control tool that best fits their needs.
Tools are tested against effectiveness, performance, usability, configurability, transparency, security (resistance to hacking and other security issues), suitability, customisation for European users and new forms of digital content (e.g. web 2.0 user generated content and social networking web sites).
This is done by means of eight-monthly objective, vendor/supplier-independent, expert assessments of products, tools and other systems and services that allow users to control children´s access to inappropriate content online and monitor their usage behaviour i. e. with regard to certain applications or time spent online.
The study refers only to voluntary use of filtering technologies by end users to protect children against harmful online content. In the tests, content sent or received by the children is not taken into account. (e.g., the content of e-mails received or the information published on Facebook) as filtering of such content would violate privacy rights.
As a result of each benchmarking cycle, a ranking list will be produced to help end users in the decision making process.
According to Eurostat data, more than 70% of all households in the European Union have Internet access.
More and more small children access the Internet. Moreover, the digital environment is continuously changing. Smart phones, tablets or even game consoles have become main Internet devices equipped not only with powerful touch screens but also cameras and sensing functionalities. This newly-acquired mobility brings with it a wide range of innovative uses allowing children to learn and communicate in new ways. It also makes the use of online services very personal and, consequently, parental supervision very difficult.
The European Commission has been successful in placing the issues of developing a safer internet firmly on the agenda of the EU and the Member States since 1996, through the successive Safer Internet programmes.
A central aim for the Safer Internet programme is to inform and empower the general public, parents, child carers, teachers and children themselves about issues relating to children´s safety online. The main aim is to help them find relevant information and increase their knowledge about how they can use the Internet and other online technologies more safely. In the specific area of parental control tools, the Commission funded a study under the Safer Internet plus programme (2005-2008) which aimed at “Benchmarking of filtering software and services”.
The study aimed at providing guidance to parents and child carers, in particular to improve awareness of solutions and promoting best practices. The study produced three reports examining several filtering products between 2006 and 2008. This was followed by the SIP-BENCH II study which was finalized in December 2012.
More information on Safer Internet programme: