It will happen.
Just like lyrics, sooner or later, blogs and websites will include a parental rating.
It may not be a placard, so to speak, but may be a meta tag inserted “behind the scenes”.
Major search engines could easily be reprogrammed to “read” these ratings in an attempt to give readers results that best match their request(s). If a site doesn’t have a (voluntary) rating, they may be ignored by the search engines. Submit an incorrect rating, and Google (or the other search engines) may impose a penalty.
No way, you say? Google already has a report tool that allows readers to report sites that are abusing Google’s quality guidelines re: spam. It can be found in their “Webmaster Tools” – “Webmaster Guidelines” section.
A self imposed rating system could potentially send hundreds of thousands of bloggers scrambling to “clean up” their blog sites(s), in an effort to appeal to more readers.
What I wrote in my “hypothetical” post, titled:“Blog Loses Massive Traffic Due To Profanity”, may not be far from the truth.
Individuals continue to preach about, and practice their freedom of speech. Demonstrating these freedoms has expanded to the world wide web, not only on adult sites, but in blogs as well. Some say blogosphere is the only place left where they can “express themselves” openly.
But, the power of parents cannot be underestimated. They care what their children are exposed to, and have won some major battles.
Voluntary ratings are in place for TV programs, movies, and music.
Interactive entertainment software is now self regulated by the Entertainment Software Rating Board(ESRB).
Social networking sites like Facebook, Bebo and MySpace may soon have to carry a ‘999’ emergency link to improve the safety of kids online.
So, as you can see, the writing is on the wall.
As a blogger, you can join forces with a self regulatory community and rate your own blog or website .SafeSurf, iWatchDog, The Family Online Safety Institute, and ChildSafe are great places to gather information about self regulation. Netscape Netwatch is often used by those who want to guard users from having access to inappropriate sites.
For parents who want control over what their children have access to, parental control software is available. In some cases, such as Crawler Parent.com, it’s free. Their software can guard a computer, block websites with dangerous content, and produce detailed reports.
Consumer Search, PC Magazine, and Star Reviews have detailed reviews of currently available . fee based, “parental control blocking software”. Some of the popular ones are NetNanny, BeSafeOnline, Safe Eyes, and CyberPatrol, and iProtectYou.
Consumer Search reminds parents if they are planning to upgrade to Windows Vista, or Apple’s “Leopard” operating systems, they contain a built in parental control (although it may not be stringent enough).
According to TV Guidelines.org, if my blog were a TV show, it would be rated “G”
Most parents would find this program suitable for all ages. Although this rating does not signify a program designed specifically for children, most parents may let younger children watch this program unattended. It contains little or no violence, no strong language and little or no sexual dialogue or situations.
Parental Guidance Suggested
This program contains material that parents may find unsuitable for younger children. Many parents may want to watch it with their younger children. The theme itself may call for parental guidance and/or the program contains one or more of the following: moderate violence (V), some sexual situations (S), infrequent coarse language (L), or some suggestive dialogue (D).
Parents Strongly Cautioned
This program contains some material that many parents would find unsuitable for children under 14 years of age. Parents are strongly urged to exercise greater care in monitoring this program and are cautioned against letting children under the age of 14 watch unattended. This program contains one or more of the following: intense violence (V), intense sexual situations (S), strong coarse language (L), or intensely suggestive dialogue (D).
Mature Audience Only
This program is specifically designed to be viewed by adults and therefore may be unsuitable for children under 17. This program contains one or more of the following: graphic violence (V), explicit sexual activity (S), or crude indecent language (L).
Although you may think your blog won’t be read by children, many adults don’t want to read profanity or see “adult content” either. With a rating system, they could choose to only read “G” or “PG” rated sites, leaving others , out in the cold.
How would your blog rate?
Do you think blogs should contain a rating to protect children?
Would you have a problem including a voluntary “rating” placard on your blog?
Do you use parental control software on your computer to protect your own children?
Photo Credit zappowbang’s photos