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Online safety for your family

"I don't want my son to inadvertently encounter images that traumatise him..."

With many families forced into lockdowns over the past two years, stay-at-home orders have pushed many Australians to spend even more time on the Internet, with parents becoming increasingly worried about their children’s online lives.

“Nearly 50 per cent of kids between the ages of 9-16 experienced regular exposure to sexual images, and those were statistics from 2017 based off research by the Australian Institute of Family Studies,” said Nigel Gutschlag of Canopy, a parental control app designed by Netspark, an Israeli tech company with filtering technology designed for creating a safer digital experience.

For Sydney mother Clea Sherman, protecting her son who started Year 3 recently, is her top priority.

“I don’t want my son to inadvertently encounter images that traumatise him. When he’s older, my concern is that his main source of information about sex will come from the wrong places,” she said.

According to Gutschlag, it isn’t simply exposure to pornography (much of which may be distressing and violent) that worries parents. Sexting (the sending, receiving or forwarding of sexually explicit messages, photographs or videos between devices) represents a “terrifying problem of [predatory] grooming and the sharing of restricted content through messaging apps,” reported Canopy in a recent statement.

“But when you talk about parental controls for the Internet, people laugh,” said Gutschlag.

Gutschlag recalled website blockers which were either “easily circumvented”, or would block ordinary websites that one needed to use.

“And those filters can’t stop sexting anyway—at least not without crippling the devices on which children rely on,” he said.

Gutschlag believed the days of inefficient or overbearing parental controls will change with Canopy.

According to Gutschlag, Canopy is a new-generation web filter that promises to change the game by offering real-time protection from adult content.

“Canopy uses Artificial Intelligence to block images ‘on the fly’, no matter how they pass through the device, whether via a website or a messaging app,” he explained.

“No one else can block or prevent sexting, at least not without doing something drastic like turning the mobile phone’s camera off.”

Gutschlag added: “Canopy works without the heavy-handedness of other filters. Since Canopy blocks images on a case-by-case basis, legitimate sites and messaging services do not need to be disabled entirely. A site may have an image blocked, but the rest will still work.”

Additionally, according to Gutschlag, the usual tricks people use to get around other traditional filters will not work on Canopy.

“The kids cannot circumvent it… or uninstall it,” he said.

“Removal protection is all part of the product.”

To find out more about Canopy, or start your free trial, visit mycanopyapp.com

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