Michael Lerner

Friday - Apr 30, 2010

If you’re a movie fan, you’re probably familiar with the Motion Picture Association of America rating system that restricts certain films. For instance, films that are violent or have sexual content may be rated “R”, restricted to those over the age of 17 unless accompanied by a parent or adult guardian. “G” is for General Audiences, “PG” advises Parental Guidance and so on. The system used by the British Board of Film Classification is similar, although it uses somewhat different classifications. Now a UK Internet service provider (ISP) is applying those standards to the Web.

ISP Tibboh claims to have rated over 3 billion websites (who knew there are that many?) to help parents control which sites their kids can access. 

There’s noting wrong with exerting parental control. Anyone who has spent time rummaging around the Net knows there’s a lot of explicit content out there that’s not suitable for kids. What has raised eyebrows, however, is that search engines Google, Yahoo! and Bing and social networking giants Facebook and Twitter have all rated “12”. That means children under 12 can’t access those sites if parents implement this scheme.

According to Phil Dawson of Tibboh, “Search engines are great but at the ‘U’ and ‘PG’ level we found so many results and sponsored links that were inappropriate”.  (“U” stands for Universal; “PG” for Parental Guidance).”

It’s unclear as to which search engine a young student might use to complete a homework assignment. No, wait. Tibboh will soon offer its own. How long do you think it will it take for a clever kid to outsmart the system?