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Internet Access - Are your kids taking you over your limit?

Michael Grose Parenting Report, Volume 9 Issue 3, Page 3
Article by Melissa Norfolk
Accredited professional speaker

Downloading large files, such as audio and video files, can quickly eat up your hard disk space and your monthly internet download limits.

Each time you or someone in your family accesses a website a copy of anything you view is downloaded to your computer. This can add up and use up your monthly download limits resulting in extra bills from your internet service provider.

Your teenagers might be listening to the radio or playing games with friends over the internet. Your seven year old might be watching the latest "Cars" or "Superman" movie trailers. As websites become more interactive and make animations, audio and video available, the size of files downloaded is increasing.

Large files on the internet

Audio: The types of audio files available for download on the internet include mobile phone ring tones, top 40 songs, snippets from radio or TV interviews or even listening to the radio live over the internet.

Video: Watching movie trailers or previews of favourite TV shows is a popular way video is used on the internet. It is also possible to download entire movies from the internet and these are typically very large files.

Instant Messaging: If your computer has a microphone and/or web cam, chatting online with friends using software such as MSN Messenger can also increase your downloads. These chat programs allow for more than just typing messages to each other now. If you have a microphone you can talk to each other in much the same way as you can talk on the phone. And if you have a web cam you can not only talk but also see the person you are talking to. This means that audio and video are being downloaded over the internet to your computer which can mean more large downloads.

And then there's Podcasting

Podcasting is the method of distributing multimedia files, such as audio programs or music videos, for playback on mobile devices and personal computers.

Podcasting is a free service that allows Internet users to download audio files (typically MP3s) from a podcasting Web site to listen to on their computer or personal digital audio player.

Virtually anyone with a computer and recording capabilities can create his or her own podcast. Podcasts may include music, comedy, sports -- even people's rants and raves.

TV and radio stations such as ABC, Fox FM and Triple M all now make their programs available via podcasting from their websites.

File size

First to define file size: this is how big a file is on your computer and is normally measured in units of "kilobytes", "megabytes", and "gigabytes."

1 KB (one KiloByte) = 1,024 Bytes
1 MB (one MegaByte) = 1,024 KB
1 GB (one GigaByte) = 1,024 MB

Examples of typical file sizes

  • Typically a picture or photo would be 20-40 kilobytes

  • A word document or PDF file would be 200-300 kilobytes

  • An audio or sound file 2 minutes long might be 2 megabytes

  • A video file 2 minutes long might be 4 megabytes

  • Downloading an entire TV show or movie from the internet can be anywhere from 600 MB to 4GB depending on the type of file and whether or not it has been compressed.

    Given that light to medium home broadband plans usually have a download limit of 200 to 500 MB per month, downloading one movie would use up more than your monthly download limit. Dialup plans allow for less than this. Once you have used up your monthly download limit you are charged for your usage and would receive an extra bill on top of your monthly plan costs.

So if you are getting additional bills for internet access it might time to look at the internet usage in your household and what type of files are being accessed.

Internet expert, Melissa Norfolk, speaks to business, school and community groups about effective use of the internet, finding what you need online, internet safety and online marketing.

For more information phone (03) 9816 3488.

Copyright © 2008 Melissa Norfolk Technology Presentations