The importance of staying safe online
The dangers of the internet are regularly reported - and often exaggerated - by the media.
Sometimes it seems hardly a week goes by without the web being blamed for some major issue, whether it's online fraud and identity theft or allowing children to chat to strangers.
However, recent research from Ofcom shows that far from becoming increasingly wary of the internet, broadband customers are actually less concerned about the web now than they were six years ago.
Seven in ten British adults said they had fears about the internet when the regulator conducted a poll in 2005, but this proportion had fallen to one in two by 2011.
While it's good to see that scaremongering in the media isn't putting people off taking full advantage of the benefits offered by broadband services, it's also a little concerning that consumers appear to be taking more risks online.
A quarter of adults with social media profiles admit their personal details can potentially be seen by people they don't know, while about the same proportion said they never read websites' privacy statements or terms and conditions.
Fortunately, help is at hand from internet service providers (ISPs), with the vast majority offering some form of product designed to keep customers safe online.
TalkTalk, for instance, has launched its HomeSafe tool, which is available free of charge to all the company's broadband subscribers and is intended to help youngsters avoid any of the potential pitfalls of internet usage.
The system is already being used by hundreds of thousands of accountholders to block access to harmful content such as pornography, violence and gambling at network level.
BT, Virgin Media and plenty of other ISPs offer similar products, while the government's Bailey Review means that all broadband customers will be offered an active choice about whether to use parental controls - a process implemented by TalkTalk in February.
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