Parents shun Web filtering tools

'Complicated' Web control tools put off parents, who prefer to keep computers where they can see what their children are doing, says new research

Only one-third of parents use filtering tools to control their child's access to the Web because they think they are too complicated. Instead, they opt for low-tech methods such as keeping the family PC in the living room to ensure youngsters don't see any unsuitable material.

Many mums and dads also believe installing such software shows a lack of trust in their children.

According to research published yesterday by the BBC, the Broadcasting Standards Commission (BSC) and the Independent Television Commission (ITC), only 32 per cent of parents currently have a filter in place on the home PC, although many feel that they will use these tools more heavily in the future.

To ward off the threats of online porn and paedophiles, 68 percent of the survey respondents monitor their child's use of the Internet themselves, while 54 percent say they make sure their offspring never give out personal details online. The same percentage keeps the computer in a public place, such as the living room.

Only 10 percent believe there's no need to control their child's use of the Web at all.

The research concludes that any ratings system or technology solution must be "easy to use and targeted in the right way, with an emphasis on the positive, empowering aspects - not blocking or depriving people of content but enabling them to explore family friendly offerings with confidence."

Russell Chadwick, vice president of filtering software provider CyberControl, said: "There are two main reasons more parents aren't using filtering software. One -- they're not aware of it, and two -- they think it's too complicated. That is a valid comment, and it's something we're working on with the next release of our product. But if you've got no filtering tool in place, you leave it to chance whether or not your child sees anything inappropriate. And you can guarantee that they will."

The BBC/BSC/ITC study was based on interviews with 36 parents, carers and children from London, Solihull, Newcastle, Cardiff and Glasgow from homes with and without access to the Internet, while over 500 parents of children aged five to 16 took part in a survey.

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