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Porn filters used by less than half parents, say Ofcom

Over half of parents do not use porn filtering parental controls, according to results of a recent report by Ofcom. 

The report reveals that while six in ten parents use tools such as safe search and passwords on age-restricted content available from services like BBC iPlayer, most parents prefer to take a hands-on role when supervising their kids. 

Almost four in ten (38 per cent) of parents in said in 2013 that there wasn’t even a need to use parental controls as their children were always supervised when online. 

Porn filters used by less than half parents, say Ofcom
Wrapping kids in cotton wool? Parents apply their own brand of internet controls

Parents of older children were more likely to trust their children to use the internet safely. 52 per cent of parents of 3-4 year olds trusted their kids to safely surf the web, whereas those with kids ages 5-7 were more confident in their childrens online abilities (72 per cent). 

83 per cent of parents of 8-11 year olds were happy that their children knew what they were doing compared to 89 percent of parents of 12-15s. 

Despite this, 14 per cent of parents admitted that they did not install of parental controls because they didn’t know how or didn’t know how to make use of them. Parents also conceded that they felt that their children knew more about the internet than they did. 

A separate survey undertaken by security firm McAfee has suggested that parents lack of understanding of Facebook contributes indirectly to online bullying, which ironically, Ofcom’s survey reveals is parents primary concern, followed by their children downloading malware. 

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it use safe search

Ofcom produced the report on internet safety for the government, which has succeeding in getting the UK’s leading ISPs to set up advanced content filters. 

Part of the changes will involve ISPs asking all customers, new and existing, whether or not they want to use parental controls. Filtering will be turned on by default and customers won’t be able to continue using the web until they’ve chosen to use the controls or not. 

This should see those in the 14 per cent better able to make use of parental controls, should they want to. As the controls will be applied by the ISPs, at a network level, there’s no software to install and little set-up required on the parents part. 

Filtering solutions will apply to all devices using the same internet connection in the home and will automatically block access to sites listed under pre-selected categories including adult content, gambling and social networks. Content filters will be customisable and can be altered to suit the preferences of each household. 

The data was gathered between 2012 and 2013, at a time when only TalkTalk had launched a whole-home filtering solution. Since the report was compiled, BT and Sky have released their own solutions, Parental Controls and Broadband Shield respectively. Virgin Media is currently testing out its own system which it intends to launch soon. 

This is the first of three reports Ofcom is compiling on internet safety measures. The second is expected later this year and will look at ISPs commitments to network-level filtering.  

Image: Kate Monkey/Flickr

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