Crayons

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SafetyNet Step 3:
Select a family-friendly Internet Service Provider

When it comes to family-friendly features, not all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are created equal. Some even advertise the fact that they do not "censor" any pornography. ISPs have taken widely divergent approaches to child safety, from those having almost no family-friendly features, to those with many such features.

Most ISPs, including MSN and AT&T, do not furnish free filterware, leaving parents with only the rudimentary filtering capabilities of Microsoft's Web browser, Internet Explorer. Some add insult to injury by carrying newsgroups devoted to child pornography.

While no ISP offers protection substantially better than filterware, there are two reasons that your ISP choice still matters. First, some ISPs really are concerned with the issue of parenting online. They offer guidelines for parents, provide clear help in setting up parental control features, provide kids-only areas, block child pornography from their newsgroup servers, help find interesting kid sites on the Internet and respond quickly to reports of online abuse. Others leave all of these issues up to parents to figure out on their own. The second reason your selection of an ISP matters is that the price of filterware can run as much as $70 per year – and this is in addition to the roughly $240 average annual cost for Internet access. By using an ISP that bundles filterware into its service package (see KidShield's Internet Service Review for a current list of ISPs with free filterware), you avoid unnecessary costs.

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