Peer-to-peer file sharing has come a long way since the advent of file-sharing websites. Before, these only existed to give people a chance to download their favorite MP3s. These days, there are so many websites that not only give out these MP3 songs, but also games, movies, TV shows, books, and any kind of software you can imagine. These files can easily be exchanged across the network without limits and without the need to pay.

As one of the adults in the family, it is your duty to know about copyright infringement and the dangers that go along with it. It is when you use or acquire the works of other people or company without their permission. Obviously, when you download these files from peer-to-peer networks, you are eliminating the rights of the copyright holder. In other words, you support piracy and you will eventually be accused of copyright infringement. This is something that your child may not be able to understand. Even adults disregard the potential harm that can be caused when they do not abide by this law. Being a good parent though means that you are dedicated to protecting your child against the use of illegal file sharing networks.

The Technology Behind P2P

P2P today is synonymous with free media over the Internet. This is where people get to watch the TV shows that they might have missed and they can also download video games here. All of these can be achieved for free. Most teenagers today are well-versed in technology and it does not help that the Internet makes it easy for them.

For instance, if they want to search for a file, they only need to use a search engine and the results would lead them to websites where they can download that file. Some P2P networks require the users to log in or become a member first. However, there are also some websites that allow people to download the file that they want right away.

The idea behind P2P is not bad, but it is actually the way people exploit it. Technically, peer-to-peer file sharing involves a huge group of individuals with media on their hard drives. If your son or daughter initiates a download, he or she will receive different bits of the file. This speeds up the process because it does not require the user to download the whole file.

Why You Should Warn Your Child About File Sharing

While file sharing does have its advantages, there are also risks in getting involved in P2P. Here are two of those threats, along with their proposed solutions:

  • It is illegal. The most important reason why these file share websites are not treated like normal websites is that they provide illegal media. When users choose to download files here, they may be subject to fines. Many authorities are now pursuing these users so that they can stop what they are doing. They do so by detecting the activities of the users and finally imposing financial penalties on them. Perhaps your son or daughter does not really want to download these files. However, several young people are simply following their friends’ advice about P2P file sharing. One of the ways parents can help their children deal with this is to simply talk to them and explain the dangers of illegal media acquired online.
  • It is risky. When you join a P2P website, it means that you will allow other users to access your files. This is of course dangerous because it can lead to numerous problems, which may include viruses and even identity theft. The solution here is to not use P2P networks to share files. However, if really necessary, such as sharing huge yet legal files over the web, you can help your teen by discussing the limitations on personal information your child can provide online. This will help address the identity theft problem. On the other hand, using anti-virus software applications can help in deter malicious elements.

The Truth that Parents Need to Know

There are several ways to protect your children against file-sharing dangers. With proper guidance, it is possible to combat these threats. However, the reality is that even kids that are not too tech-savvy will always find a way into these P2P websites. It is very easy now, especially with the way the Internet and technology have been developed. You can put all kinds of parental controls on the computer and your child will eventually discover a way around these restrictions.

Additionally, torrenting websites are used even by adults today. Most of them are polished and even put up a warning for people that piracy is a crime. Therefore, there are some adults who trust these websites and innocently become a part of piracy. There is a large grey area in free media, which makes it even more difficult to talk about peer-to-peer technology. The truth is that software and even these torrent or P2P websites are not unlawful per se. There are some that can actually be considered legitimate because they offer the real free media or the freeware or shareware.

The best thing that you can do to help your child and make sure that he or she remains in full protection against the possible dangers of online file sharing is to talk to them. It is significant that at the end of the discussion, they have a clear understanding of what these sites are and what will happen if the privileges are abused. Approaching free files over the Internet should always be done with caution.

If you think that your child is involved in torrent or P2P file sharing activities, you can search the computer for these torrent files. They end with .torr or .torrent extensions. Also, you will find that there is a torrent software application installed. You can either uninstall it or simply discuss the situation with your child. Stress on the threats these sites may lead to and the activities they encourage. It always helps if you revisit this topic every once in a while whenever you have the chance.