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Next Generation Internet Safety Products

norton.pngThe first generation of Internet safety products to help parents protect their kids from the dangers of cyberspace were all about saying “no.” This next generation is all about negotiation and conversation. And that’s a good thing, since what most kids need is education about the Internet and not a lockdown.

Today, Symantec launched Norton Online Family, a web-based service to help families facilitate the conversation that parents and kids should be having about the Internet. The site encourages kids to stay in touch and earn their parents’ trust by showing them that they can ask for permission and that they’re willing to live openly, not secretively, on the web.

So, for example, with Norton Online Family a parent can choose to be notified each time their child wants to add a new friend to their IM list. A parent can choose to monitor the child’s web usage, set time limits, or be notified when their child wants to visit a blocked site. Because of the built-in communications and alerts, this new generation of software promotes a discussion rather than a parental dictatorship.

Other Internet safety companies are also revising their approaches to reflect a more discursive approach to protecting kids on the Internet. We’ll be seeing more and more products that aim to protect through conversation and dialog rather than putting up blockades on the Internet.

Full disclosure: I serve on a Board of Advisors that was assembled to test the beta design of the product and offer feedback to Symantec.