Where there’s a child connected, there’s a need for protection.
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are businesses first and foremost, but it’s no secret that with their line of work comes a sort of higher calling. By providing internet access to the home, ISPs connect people to vital resources and in doing so, bridge the digital divide.
As any Spider-Man fan will tell you, “With great power comes great responsibility,” and ISPs’ ability to connect their subscribers to the online world is power indeed, but what are their responsibilities?
The internet might be the single most significant invention of the modern age, but with all its ability to connect us and for how much we rely on it, the virtual world is not without its dark side. For example, statistics have emerged in recent years that demonstrate how heavy social media use can have a grim effect on us—especially on young people.
For instance, a 2019 study of 1,000 middle school students found eating disorder behaviors in 52% of girls and 45% of boys, with a greater number of social media accounts associated with higher scores for eating disorder behaviors. Around that same time, a study conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 59% of teens in the US have experienced cyberbullying.
And the link between unbridled social media use and mental health issues goes broader and deeper than most of us would imagine. From 2000 to 2007, the Center for Disease Control reported a stable rate of suicide among 10 to 24-year-olds. But concurrent with the rise of Facebook at the end of 2006, the numbers increased dramatically. From 2007 to 2017, the CDC reported a 57% increase in suicide among the same demographic.
As for sexual predation, the Organization for Social Media Safety reports that 82% of child sex crimes originate from social media. For anyone who would like a glimpse into what it’s like to be growing up in the tech era, the “Childhood 2.0” documentary is a great place to start.
So, what can ISPs do to help? How can they transcend their role as a provider and fulfill the responsibilities of their higher calling? How can they help parents keep their kids safe from cyberbullying and online predators or see the warning signs of suicidal thoughts before it’s too late?
Of course, ISPs are not spies and shouldn’t be required to monitor their subscribers and notify them when they’ve been on their phones for too long. But as conduits for the cyber world, ISPs should be able to give their subscribers effective tools for monitoring and managing their family’s internet use.
In fact, some parental controls developers like Bark Technologies, a world-leading expert in online safety, have services so sophisticated that they can even detect threats like cyberbullying and predatory behavior from comments and messages across platforms and devices.
And that’s why we’ve integrated our Vilo mesh Wi-Fi systems with Bark In-Home parental controls. Not just because it’s a free $80 value-added benefit. Not just because it’s a competitive advantage. Not just because it’ll spare you a technical headache should your customers need a router that’s compatible with Bark, but because Wi-Fi is the heart of the home, and we want our ISPs to be able to provide their subscribers with a way to protect it.
By offering Bark In-Home parental controls as part of your service, your subscribers won’t just be paying for the internet, but for peace of mind. With Bark In-Home parental controls, parents can filter websites on every device connected to their Vilo network, set bedtimes, make “SafeSearch” mandatory, pause the internet, and more.
As part of your service, these advanced parental controls will differentiate you from your competitors as a family-centered ISP that cares about safe internet access.
This may not appeal to all providers. Maybe parental controls aren’t a pressing priority for your ISP, which again is a business first and foremost. But the day when providers across the states will be required to offer some form of internet filtration services isn’t far off. In fact, the Utah State Legislature passed a Senate Bill in 2019 requiring ISPs to do exactly that.
Not long after, Tennessee passed its “Safer Internet for Minors Act” in 2020, requiring ISPs to provide their customers with parental control features like the ability to turn on and off certain websites and create website categories.
On an even larger scale, the US Congress is working to pass a bill that would require big tech corporations to make their social media platforms safer for kids, citing the real harm these platforms are having on the rising generations.
ISPs can wait until they’re compelled by law to offer some sort of internet filtering service to their subscribers, but it is apparent that this issue is not only real but at the forefront of so many parents’ minds. There is no time better than now to offer parental controls because there has never been a more salient need for them. And if you are going to offer parental controls, even if only when compelled to, why not offer some of the most sophisticated parental controls available at no cost to yourself?
While we’re not a Marvel superhero’s deceased uncle, we at Vilo believe that with great power does come great responsibility. More appropriately, where there’s a child connected, there’s a need for protection—and that’s an inseparable part of an ISP’s higher calling.
Click here to learn how you can start providing Bark In-Home parental controls today.