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Parents, your porn filters don’t keep your kids away from porn

Parents, your porn filters don’t keep your kids away from porn
[Photo: Daniel Putzer/Pexels]

That’s according to Oxford Internet Institute researchers Victoria Nash and Andrew Przybylski, who wrote a paper titled “Internet Filtering and Adolescent Exposure to Online Sexual Material.” If you’re worried about keeping your kids from porn, then the news isn’t good. The authors state:

Our preliminary findings suggested that filters might have small protective effects, but evidence derived from a more stringent and robust empirical approach indicated that they are entirely ineffective.

In total, their study looked at 9,352 male and 9,357 female subjects from Europe and found that while almost 50% of the subjects had porn filter software running on their devices, the subjects still saw approximately the same amount of porn as people who browsed the web with no porn filters on their devices. They go on to explain:

Given these substantial costs and limitations, it is noteworthy that there is little consistent evidence that filtering is effective at shielding young people from online sexual material. A pair of studies reporting on data collected in 2005, before the rise of smartphones and tablets, provides tentative evidence that Internet filtering might reduce the relative risk of young people countering sexual material. A more recent study, analyzing data collected a decade after these papers, provided strong evidence that caregivers’ use of Internet filtering technologies did not reduce children’s exposure to a range of aversive online experiences including, but not limited to, encountering sexual content that made them feel uncomfortable. Given studies on this topic are few in number and the findings are decidedly mixed, the evidence base supporting the widespread use of Internet filtering is currently weak.

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