Protecting Youth Online: Family Use of Filtering and Blocking Software

Kimberly J. Mitchell, University of New Hampshire
David Finkelhor, University of New Hampshire
Janis Wolak, University of New Hampshire

Filtering and blocking software has been one of the most recommended means of protecting youth from Internet victimization. This paper explores characteristics associated with the adoption of filtering and blocking software in households with youth (10 and 17 years) who use the Internet regularly. Thirty-three percent of parents reported current use of filtering/blocking software with an additional 5% having discontinued its use within the past year. Parents were more likely to adopt filtering software if they had younger children (10-15 years), a high level of concern about exposure to sexual material on the Internet, low trust in the child's ability to use the Internet responsibly, more extensive knowledge of what their child does online, and if the child used American Online. Use of the Internet for school assignments was associated with not using filtering software. Findings suggest 1) the need for evaluation research of filter programs used in a real-family context; and 2) the development of prevention strategies against Internet victimization for youth of different ages.

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Updated 05/20/2006