IT experts hope new technology will help parents control what kids see online

Easy access to the internet through smart phones, tablets and even gaming systems is making it increasingly difficult for parents to block children from stumbling across things they shouldn't see, like pornography. But, local experts say there are new ways to control what they have access to.

Easy access to the internet through smart phones, tablets and even gaming systems is making it increasingly difficult for parents to block children from stumbling across things they shouldn't see, like pornography. But, local experts say there are new ways to control what they have access to.

PORTLAND — Easy access to the internet through smart phones, tablets and even gaming systems is making it increasingly difficult for parents to block children from stumbling across things they shouldn’t see, like pornography.

But, local experts say there are new ways to control what they have access to.

“It’s amazing we have a Wii U and we’ll play Mario at night and the kids have access to the internet, YouTube and things like that, when we’re just sitting and having game night,” said parent Heather Breazile. “It’s insanely east to get into.”

And that’s a problem, because the world isn’t always kid friendly.

“A couple of times our daughter got onto our kindle and bought stuff,” said Parent Francine Lion. “Luckily, it was just kid stuff.”

But, beyond children accidentally buying something harmless from time to time, explicit content is more often than not only a couple of swipes away.

“I think anyone who is a parent can think of their own childhood and think of the things they say they didn’t do, and know that it’ll happen because kids are curious,” said CEO of AlwaysOnIT Chris Benson.

Chris Benson says they get calls from concerned parents trying to figure out how to block their children from accessing pornography sites. But, the problem is, there’s no wide sweeping fix.

“You have to have a multifaceted approach to make sure inappropriate content isn’t viewed,” said Benson.

Benson works with families to figure out the best plan for them. Aside from altering settings on a smart phone, Benson says major cell phone providers will now also offer family controls to block malicious content from popping up on phones.

But, if kids are accessing porn on public Wi-Fi, there’s not much they can do about that.

“When we were just dealing with computers there were apps you could put on them and that solved problem, but with the proliferation of smart phones and internet devices of all kinds, it’s getting harder,” said Benson.

When it comes to gaming devices, Benson says it’s easy for parents to block a child’s ability to get onto the browser, but still be able to play the game. That’s just a quick fix in the settings.

A new technology from Disney, called Circle, is now allowing parents to pair the device with their Wi-Fi and manage all phones together through an app.

“You can do things like set a bed time and the internet turns off, or you can be at the dinner table and hit a button and turn off the network. It even reports back what are kids doing, what sites they’re going to and it gives information about chats on Facebook and things like that,” said Benson.

Parents can also install apps like Teen Safe on a child’s phone, or computer that records sites their children are surfing. It won’t stop them from visiting explicit sites, but it can lead to a conversation afterward.

“My philosophy is that it’s more about talking to kids about what’s appropriate to share with people and what isn’t,” said Benson.

A philosophy many parents say they too are now learning to live by.

“You know, it’s not fair to them and it’s completely different than how I grew up, but that’s the way it is and we have to make sure that we take the steps to make sure our kids are protected and don’t see things they shouldn’t see,” said Breazile.