Peer-to-Peer Networks and Internet Safety

Article Posted by Expert Author: Jesse Schwarz  on 10/31/2014

pirate flagHigh speed Internet providers may be able to control some of the information and websites that reach your computer from the Internet, but they can’t control the file sharing that goes on in peer-to-peer networks. If you don’t already know what a peer-to-peer (P2P) network is, you’d better find out soon because your kids, or their friends, probably use them. P2P networks allow users to share files over the Internet through a central server or website. They are organized online communities where members search for and download files of interest to them, and upload files for others to enjoy. Although the concept is an interesting one, if your kids are members of such a site, there are dangers you have to be aware of. Because peer-to-peer networks are involved with the sharing of files, you never know what your kids may gain access to. Pedophiles have been known to upload pornographic material, which can then be downloaded by anyone who is part of the network – this puts your children at risk.

Also, P2P networks require that you download and install special software to navigate the files available, which is bad news because the software may have spyware on it that tracks your child’s Internet activities, and possibly collects personal information. The reason kids love this type of online networking is pretty simple – you can download music, movies, E-books – anything you want all for free. Because people are uploading files they have at home, you can access media normally not available in stores or elsewhere. Unfortunately, the files your kids download may also contain viruses that may infect your computer and cause major problems. If your kids are using peer-to-peer networks unbeknownst to you, all the protection you have put in place for filtering websites may be doing you no good, even with the many safeguards available. A good virus and spyware checker can take care of the potential for infection, but it gets harder when you want to control the files your kids are downloading.

Internet providers in my area can only do so much when it comes to security and filtering. If your kids are using P2P networks, it’s suggested that you implement security measures that can scan files and monitor computer activity remotely. This way, you can check up on the content and size of files that have been downloaded to ensure nothing inappropriate has made its way onto your kid’s computer. Unfortunately, the people who distribute pornography purposely mislabel the files, to trick children into downloading them. This may also make it past certain filters you have installed, so conducting your own monitoring makes a lot of sense. Not allowing your kids to use these P2P networks is the ideal situation, however, older kids may not appreciate it.

Copyright infringement is another concern with these sites.  In that case, you may actually hear from your Internet provider that someone in your family is breaking copyright laws.  So although your teen may hate you for banning P2P networks, you’re probably saving your family a whole lot of trouble by doing so.

Learn more about how to keep your kids out of trouble online at

Article Posted In:  kids safety  parental controls  

Categories: internet serviceparental controlskids safetyanti virus software