Microsoft Australia has released research showing that Australian families are not doing enough to monitor the internet use of their children - findings which are likely to be used by both advocates and opponents of the Federal Government's mandatory ISP-level internet filtering scheme.
The software giant surveyed 1000 Australians in an online poll and found that "more than 60 percent of parents allow their children to surf the net unsupervised and unrestricted at home."
One in five had discovered their children viewing material deemed 'unsavoury', one in three found their children had communicated with strangers, 36 percent had found their children had downloaded software without permission and 12 percent discovered their children had given out personal details.
Only half (58 percent) of parents had their home PC in a visible or "public" area of the home such that a child's use could be monitored.
"Don't be in the dark about your children's online lives," warned Stuart Strathdee, chief security advisor at Microsoft Australia.
"The Internet opens a new world of information, socialising and entertainment for children - but it also presents new risks - such as online predators, personal information disclosure, exposure to inappropriate content in web sites, messages, file downloads and within games and audio/video multimedia."
Whilst Microsoft used the findings to plug the family friendly filtering options available within its Windows 7 operating system, the research tactfully plays into the arguments for those for and against mandatory filtering.
Opponent Google, by contrast, has attacked the filtering proposal.
Senator Conroy and the powerful Christian lobby have both argued that the risks to children presented by internet threats cannot be left to the family unit to mitigate.
They argue that a technical solution (a mandatory filter for RC-rated content) needs to be implemented at a macro level.
Opponents of internet filtering have argued that a child's welfare is as much the parent's responsibility in the online world as in the offline world - with ISP veteran Simon Hackett expressing the view that his version of filtering is "simply to put the family's PC in the living room."
What do you think? Can parents realistically manage the internet use of their children or do they require Government intervention?
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