Contracts with Kids discuss and set up rules for computer use.

Time Limiting limits time online.

Filtering & Blocking limits access to some sites, words, and/or images.

Block Outgoing Content prevents kids from revealing personal information online.

Browsers for Kids do not display inappropriate words or images.

Kid-Oriented Search Engines perform limited searches or screen search results.

Monitoring Tools alert adults to online activity without blocking access.

There are both pros and cons to keep in mind when using these types of tools.

Please Note: GetNetWise staff gathered this information from the companies that make these tools. We cannot guarantee the effectiveness of these products, nor do we endorse any products.

Other Information

How ISPs are Helping -- Many Internet and online service providers also offer safety solutions by selling or including these tools with their services and adopting "Acceptable Use Policies", or "Terms of Service Agreements".

Web Ratings Systems -- Many companies that produce Web sites voluntarily rate and label their sites, using a system knows as "PICS" (Platform for Internet Content Selection).

Internet Issues in the Community -- When children use the Internet in school or in a library, their experiences will be different than when they are at home. Libraries and schools may have different rules for Internet use than your family, because they must serve the needs of diverse children and families.

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Home / Kids' Safety / Tools for Families / Voluntary Labeling & Rating Systems

Tools for Families

Voluntary Labeling & Rating Systems

PICS - Filtering by Web site ratings

Some filtering software "decides" what to block based on how a site is rated -- not entirely unlike the way parents use movie ratings. One popular technology, or platform, for labelling and rating Web sites is known as "PICS" ("Platform for Internet Content Selection"). PICS facilitates the creation of rating systems that put human vocabulary like "nudity," "sex," "violence," and "language" into a format that computers can read. A site might then be blocked based on its PICS label. Many different rating systems can be created using PICS.

Who decides how a site is rated? Many companies that produce Web sites voluntarily rate and label their sites. They provide information about their content that matches the rating system, for example if it includes sexual or violent material.

Recent versions of Web browsers -- Microsoft Internet Explorer (4.0 and higher) and Netscape Navigator (4.0 and higher) -- can "read" the PICS labels and filter out sites with ratings that parents want blocked. A number of other filtering and blocking tools described on this page include PICS-compatible labels as part of their systems.

PICS filtering systems:

How to use PICS filtering systems:

For more information:

  • The World Wide Web Consortium -- PICS FAQ
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