Proprietary Environment Proprietary Environment

Many service providers, like America Online and Prodigy, offer parental blocking features to customers. Becuase this has been requested by paying parent customers, these service providers have an incentive to do it correctly (1).

The big four online providers, America Online, Prodigy, Compuserve and Microsoft Internet Explorer, all have different options for parents. Most of the services are free and require no additional software, although a few offer it to parents at an extra cost.

America Online

In AOL kids 12 and under cannot send or receive Instant Messages (online current conversations between two people) or access member-created chat rooms or private rooms. Kids can also only send and receive text-only e-mail and parents can block all Internet e-mail. With the Internet, parents have the option of "Acces Only Kid Approved Sites" - sites that are deemed age-appropriate for kids ages 6-12 by Microsystem, Inc., a company that regulary monitors and updates these sites. There is also a different setting for teens(4).


Prodigy offers parents the opportunity to control their child's access to bulletin boards, chat rooms or newsgroups. It can also block all access to the web. It offers kids and teens chat rooms as well as a special web area exclusively for kids and teens. Prodigy makes CyberPatrol (a filtering software) available for an additional cost(4).


With Compuserve parents can control areas in which each member of the family can enter using their own password. No chat areas are available for children, and parents can have all e-mail sent to them first for screening. Compuserve makes CyberPatrol (a filtering software) avialable to its members (4).

Microsoft Internet Explorer

Microsoft Internet Explorer allows parents to block access to a site based on a number of content categories such as violence, nudity or adult language. Parents can add or take away any categories they would like (4).