Is Operating System Parental Control Software Enough?4 min read
Each of the following points defines a generic term for a threat.
Protection against cyberbullying
The various additional tools and functions of the operating systems have been analyzed and assigned to these various points. The lab was only satisfied and gave a positive rating when a point was really covered, even with several program functions.
Testbed Candidates: Microsoft, Mac, Android, iOS & Amazon
Tested: Windows 10, MacOS High Sierra, Android 8.0, iOS 12 and Amazon Fire OS, suitable Android system. Each system has internal functions, desktop systems have additional software. Exact product names: Microsoft Family Safety, Mac Parental Controls, Google Family Link, iOS Parental Controls, and Kindle Fire Parental Controls.
Parental control systems are often structured the same way: you define a person or child in the system using their age and download a preconfigured profile with settings. On certain points, it is sometimes possible to adjust even more precisely. Many parents without in-depth knowledge rely on the fact that the profiles cover all the points.
At first glance, the testers were satisfied with MacOS in some respects, followed at some distance by Windows and IOS. Google on Android is unreliable, and the protection Amazon offers on the Kindle is only a shadow of itself. In most cases, it does not work or is not usable. System providers, of course, fulfill certain conditions and occupy an honorable place in the ranking. But most of the time, they only offer the bare necessities. Explanations of the various threats show how flat and disappointing the functions are.
Protection against cyberbullying
Bullying is an important topic that is even often dealt with at school. Cyberbullying, which unleashes the same psychological violence as normal bullying, appears regularly in discussions. Operational parental controls should control device usage time and location, as well as protect profile and activities through social media controls. The report functions are very important, because even without defined contents, they allow you to quickly see in which social networks the communication threatens to degenerate. Microsoft and Apple MacOS as well as iOS meet the requirements more or less well, Google and Amazon, on the other hand, practically do not. None of the systems tested offer a social media monitoring function.
Controlling access to adult sites – the bitter truth
Since the Internet is often considered an uncontrollable source of content, the testers paid great attention to the filtering of websites and links by the parental control functions. The corresponding table shows the results. In this table, the iOS system does not appear anywhere since iOS technically prevents the test. With regard to all the other systems, we notice that they only identify the category pornography and that everything else is left out
The laboratory expects from a parental control device that the internal “Secured search” function is automatically activated when using a search engine. So Google with Safe Search e.g. does not display certain sites found that include pornographic content. Parental controls in operating systems know about the feature, but they turn it on or off randomly. Microsoft eg. don’t like Google and don’t enable parental controls there. On the other hand, if you search with Bing or Yahoo, the secure search is automatically active. Apple does the exact opposite with its parental control features and favors Google exclusively.
In fact, protection systems should also record precisely what has been searched, found and blocked. The reporting functions of the operating systems admittedly partially record this information, but they are so sparse that further analysis brings little clarity.
Controlling the transfer of private data – when children become sources of data leaks
Through social networks, children share a lot of information and do not realize that they often reveal very personal data. It therefore happens that a lot of information about the whole family travels on the Internet in this way. To prevent this, a control function should react automatically as soon as personal data such as address, telephone number or school name are entered. The predefined blocking of websites must also be possible in order to prevent children being lured onto platforms or into chat rooms, for example. If this happens, then the control function should intervene when entering personal data. The control of social networks in particular is very useful at this level, because it is precisely there that too personal information can be exchanged. However, all these activities should be recorded in a clear report.
Special parental control software from other manufacturers proves that report functions can contain a lot of information and a good overview. The test results of AV-TEST will be published very soon in the News section.
Device usage time monitoring – can you cheat?
With some children, it’s like this: you give them a packet of crisps, they empty it in no time and they feel sick to their stomachs. Many children don’t know their limits and can’t stop using. This is also what happens in the virtual world.
y registered by hand with the Blacklisting and Whitelisting function. This means that there is a list of allowed Internet addresses and disallowed addresses. Lists are however quickly foiled if there is a shortened link or other technical trick.
Testers were pretty much happy with all systems and tools. However, here again, the reporting functions are simple and rudimentary. The results quoted are still more or less acceptable, however, are not valid for the Amazon Kindle Fire. There, only the usage time can be adjusted a little.
Protection against online money traps – easy money
Many sites try to make a quick buck by selling something to kids. Most of the time, these are not large sums, because the children cannot collect them easily and it would be noticed. Rather, they are small amounts that are paid directly or by prepayment system using voucher codes purchased at the gas station or tobacconist.