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Sky’s new Watershed parental control sets timers for content blocks

Sky’s Broadband Shield parental controls tool now lets families set timers for content filters. 

The network-level filtering service, which applies content blocks to all devices in the home, gives parents the choice between three pre-defined content filters based on BBFC-style age ratings, PG, 13 and 18. 

Parents were always able to switch between the three categories at will but the new Watershed tool means that settings don’t have to be manually configured; timers can be applied so that the PG or 13 setting is in place during the day hours with the 18 setting coming on after bedtime. 

Sky’s new Watershed parental control sets timers for content blocks
Shield-o-clock: Parents can now decide what’s allowed and when with Sky Broadband

As well as blocking access to certain types of sites like social networks at certain times of day, parents can also use the new tool to enforce homework hours. 

Speaking at the launch of Sky Broadband Shield last year, Lyssa McGowan, director of Sky Broadband, said: “Protecting customers from inappropriate content in the digital world is something Sky has always taken extremely seriously. 

“Sky has already played a leading role in protecting Sky homes from inappropriate content, as we know that’s what our customers expect of Sky.”

From launch Sky Broadband Shield gave parents the ability to blacklist and whitelist specific sites that either slipped through the net or were perhaps unfairly banned. 

Critics of filtering solutions have pointed out instances of political blogs and community sites being blocked while images of scantily clad women were still easily accessible courtesy of the Daily Mail’s infamous sidebar of shame. 

Thankfully the customisable nature of Sky Broadband Shield means that parents can unlock anything that’s been inadvertently caught up in the content nets – such as file-sharing and industry news blog TorrentFreak, which fell afoul of the filters before Sky unblocked it

All of the UK’s main ISPs – BT, Sky, Virgin Media and TalkTalk – offer their customers network-level filtering by default. 

Despite no laws being passed, the ISPs bowed to pressure from the UK Government and pledged to offer network level filtering to all new and current customers. Results of a survey published this year by telecoms regulator Ofcom showed that over half of UK parents didn’t make use of content filters


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