Whether You Have Child Filters on Your Internet or Not It Doesn’t Make a Difference, Study Says

Whether You Have Child Filters on Your Internet or Not It Doesn’t Make a Difference, Study Says

Think you’re paying for filters that really keep you’re kids from seeing bad content?  You might want to reconsider.

A study published this week in the Journal of Pediatrics showed that around 20% of young people using the internet report having a negative experience online, and it’s almost the same whether they’re using filters or not.

Here are the details. 17% of youth searching online with filters and 22% of those freewheeling with nothing to block what they saw, reported that they had some kind of negative experience while online.

And nearly 8 % of the youths in the study reported being contacted by a stranger seeking to befriend them online. Scary!

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Keep Connected

What can parents conclude from researchers work? Don’t rely on the machines, you have to keep connecting with kids yourself, to relay what’s safe and what isn’t.

The study being reported on here was conducted in over 1,000 homes in Britain, and researchers interviewed over 500 parents and their adolescent children, aged 12 to 15 years.

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It results point to the importance of maintaining a growing relationship with your kids at all ages and the need to talk with them about how to deal with dicey content online, all the time.

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“Internet filtering, on its own, does not appear effective for shielding adolescents from things that they find aversive online,” wrote the study’s lead author Andrew Przybylski, a senior research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford in England.

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“Parents may feel reassured in knowing they have internet filters in their home, but our results suggest that such filters do not safeguard against young people seeing things that may frighten or upset them,” he added.

“As young people grow into adults, there has to be a degree of risk tolerance as they build their own resilience. Keeping open lines of communication is key,” he said.

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Talk With Your Kids

So, sit down and talk with your kids. Not just about what crazy things they might find on the Internet, like RateMDs articles and worse, but about life. How was school? Should we go to the movies this weekend? How are your friends doing?

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Do fun things together as a family and interspersed in there, talk about how people stay safe online.

Starting with how you, as an adult, stay safe on the internet can be a good place to start. Talk with your child about how adults protect themselves from online bullying, how we strive to keep our important personal information secure, and how we can tell if a site is legitimate or not.

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These are the basics. Beyond this, there’s the idea of searching for content together, and telling your child to check in with you before clicking on a link, if they’re not sure. It’s about teaching and building trust.

Instead of simply blocking content from your kids, experts say it’s important to teach them to surf safely by giving them the right tools.

As Michele Ybarra, president and research director for the Center for Innovative Public Health Research in San Clemente, California, says, it matters.

“It’s really important to talk to your kids about how to keep their information safe online,” she said in a phone interview with Reuters.com. “If you would prefer your child not look at pornography, talk to them about what that means to you.”

There you have it. Search with care, and keep connected. Talk about it-it’ll be an interesting conversation.

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