It is more important than ever during the holiday season that parents monitor and protect their childrens’ web activities. That’s because kids with toys on the brain – so basically all kids right now – can easily and unwittingly turn up disturbing images related to violence, drug use or sex when they search images of the items high on their Christmas wish lists.
Kaspersky Lab researchers discovered that searches of five popular toys produce troubling images high in the Google web or image search results. These include searches for these toys: Furby searches produce an image of a Furby smoking a joint; Sesame Street Elmo Hugs searches show an image of Evil Elmo depicted as the devil, smoking, drinking alcohol and holding a gun; Teksta Dog brings up a provocative image of a woman posing in a bikini; Monopoly Empire search results include an image of a man in Monopoly character mask pointing guns at the heads of two women in bikinis; Disney Talking Sofia shows a less than Disney-like picture of topless Sofia Coppola.
Parents can combat the trend and protect their children by implementing the parental controls available on their computers, tablets and smartphones, including those controls built into web browsers and antivirus suites.
“Children should be able to [conduct Internet searches of their favorite toys] without the risk of stumbling on something they shouldn’t see and we don’t want parents to feel they have to deny them this experience,” says Kaspersky Lab researcher David Emm. “With effective parental controls that block inappropriate content, they don’t have to.”
Parents should also supervise their childrens’ Internet use, encouraging them to visit and stay on websites that the parents are familiar with, while monitoring their browsing history and making sure they know their childrens’ logins to password-protected sites. Additionally, establishing an open, safe culture surrounding Internet use in which parents and children can freely discuss what they are doing online and with whom they are socializing is critical, Kaspersky researchers say. To aid parents, Kaspersky Lab provides extensive parental controls as a part of Kaspersky Internet Security – Multi-Device and Kaspersky PURE.
Christmas gift searches are hardly the only childrens’ searches that turn up questionable content; Kaspersky Lab researchers earlier this year found that children searching for their favorite TV characters on YouTube are often just three clicks away from inappropriate content.