Web filtering & guidance solution designed for younger children & their parents

Cp0611-mid Submitted by Chris Puttick
Interactivism // Think Kids Pitch Day
How can we use tech to help under 18s get the most from the web and stay safe?

TwoTen is different from other filtering solutions in that it addresses 3 key issues:

(i) the fact that legacy solutions tend to be inflexible in terms of their ability to protect all web-capable devices and customisation in regard to different age groups;

(ii) that legacy filtering approaches were primarily designed to filter the web for older users (teenagers and up), and;

(iii) the need for simplicity in the configuration and management of filtering so that parents (and teachers, nursery staff, etc.) can truly be and feel in control whilst minimising the ongoing “bother” factor.

We believe the content available to children should be age-appropriate. This is not about "adult” versus "not-adult", any more than it is in the cinema; it's about content being suitable for the particular child's age and sensitivity. By subscribing to TwoTen's online service and choosing a maximum site content rating the responsible adult can ensure the child or children in their care only encounters web content appropriate for the child. What content is available at each rating is updated in real-time.

Additionally TwoTen has been designed to protect a child regardless of whether they are browsing from a tablet, a TV or PC, including devices using mobile broadband connections, all based on the same core service. No software has to be installed on the device to be protected.

For younger children protection is not the only requirement; they also need guidance. TwoTen protects in a way that treats attempted access to unavailable content as innocent, and tries to redirect the child to alternative content, content that is both available at the child’s rating level and relevant to the original page requested. We also try to provide information for parents about why a particular page or site is not available.

Parents/teachers etc. can override whether a site or page is allowed or not, and in environments where more than one child is being protected, this automatically enables the site or page to be available for all children who have been granted the same or greater levels of access.

A number of other features are planned, such as allowing parents whose children have accessibility needs to filter guidance/search results to those sites which are more accessible. TwoTen has also been developed so it can be easily integrated into existing products, both hardware, e.g. tablets or TVs, and software, e.g. extending existing filtering solutions to enable complete family protection.

The outcome of using TwoTen’s service is to make the web into a very safe place with solid boundaries, where younger children can explore, learn and have fun, while parents and teachers can relax boundaries as the child grows up.

And another difference between TwoTen and existing products? TwoTen is protected by duck.

  • bill smith
    11 Nov at 10:50

    how does it work - is it a network box you plug in at home?

  • bill smith
    11 Nov at 13:21

    what happens if i want my child to go on a site not in your system? would search/google work?

  • Chris Puttick
    11 Nov at 18:59

    Hi Bill

    TwoTen is developing a range of products that includes a box for the home, a sort of kids wifi, although you can also use the online service directly. We hope that ADSL router and other hardware manufacturers will start to build features into their routers that can access TwoTen's service (and have architected it with that in mind).

    Search engines are in general available but forced to "safe search"; the results from a given search are not all necessarily available, but as a parent you are able to make a site/page available (or the opposite) for your child. We're looking in the future at how we could filter search results so that everything listed is actually available to the child. We also attempt to offer relevant alternatives when a site or page is not available to the child, all of which would be available at the level configured for that child.

  • bill smith
    12 Nov at 08:11

    sounds good. how will you stop kids using a different wireless network ( theres 20+ where I am now! ) or is this aimed at very young kids who wouldnt know how to do that? i presume a parent can overide it easily when they need the net!

  • Chris Puttick
    12 Nov at 09:54

    TwoTen is designed for primary age and younger children, so switching wifi is less likely. However, it also depends how/what the child is using to browse with. Although it's always been true that a child that is actively seeking illicit (as defined by parents...) material will find a way to get to it! Also using other wifi has become harder as more people opt to password protect their connections. In regards to override/turning the protection on/off, TwoTenBox is intended for devices only used by the children; if it's a shared browsing device then creating a child user account that is protected by the online service would probably be the easiest to use solution (and we're working on "how to" videos to help people create these accounts on Windows, Linux and Mac).

  • Richard Allen
    12 Nov at 14:32

    Sounds like an interesting idea, although I would be interested in understand how it works in more detail? Is it sending the traffic through a proxy and then onto your own DNS/content filer service? How does local/browser/DNS caching impact the filter?

  • Chris Puttick
    13 Nov at 09:58

    As this is a product in development I'm not able to freely share technical details in a public forum of this nature. But yes, there's a proxy in our products and we have our own filtering solution that works at a URL level. The proxy usage is not entirely necessary albeit convenient; you could also use a customised browser or even customised operating system to utilise the filter service if that suited a given approach. I can't see how caching would affect the service's functionality - I think if something inappropriate was accessed prior to the service being enabled, enabling the service would still prevent access to that content (although elements of the content would be on the hard drive if someone was to look!).