iTunes, Video iPods, Podcasts, and Other Applications

Among desktop applications,26 iTunes has become an incredibly popular application that allows users to purchase and download music, movies, television shows, and podcasts. Many services provide similar content. Unlike YouTube and other services that deal almost exclusively in user-generated content, iTunes serves up commercially produced products with fairly reliable ratings. That means that avoiding inappropriate content on iTunes is relatively easy, provided you realized that there was, in fact, inappropriate content on iTunes. Parental controls easily resolve the problem, and since iTunes requires content to be accurately rated for age appropriateness, the normal filtering problem is essentially a non-issue. It should be noted that if the administrator password is held by someone with access to iTunes, removing parental controls is a straightforward issue.

Hardware devices, such as a video iPod or iPod Touch, can be used to store, transfer, and display pornographic content. Such content has to be manually placed in the device, the same way music or videos or any other content is installed. The issues with such devices are the same as with smart phone: high-resolution graphics and video capability. In the case of a device such as the iPod Touch, Wi-Fi access from an unprotected access point can provide a child with Internet connectivity, even without the cellular connectivity of a smartphone.

All applications that your children download and install on your home computer, or on portable devices, should be considered suspect. I know that’s a bit paranoid, but you haven’t gotten to this point in this chapter without growing a healthy dose of paranoia. Search for anything you have questions about. The applications and devices, and systems will shift faster than you can hardly keep track of. Resources such as the Internet Safety Project will help you keep on top of the wide variety of technologies that you may need to be aware of.

26 I’m constrained by space to lump these applications and products together, without the luxury of breaking them out separately. Unfortunately, the dynamic nature of these technologies makes a thorough discussion in print nearly impossible, and the shelf life of such information woefully inadequate in any case. The reader is referred to the Internet Safety Project Wiki for thorough information about hundreds of applications and technologies.

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