The call for voluntary network level filters capable of blocking pornography continues to grow. In the UK now over 70 MP’s have added their support to the idea, backing the campaign headed by Claire Perry. The adverse impact of pornography on children is becoming increasingly apparent. Also apparent is the increased demand on services offering help to children and young adults who struggle with pornography addictions.
Does Porn Affect Children?
Those who doubt the impact of porn on the brain and body would do well to read Mark B Kastleman‘s book on the subject. The ProtectKids website provides a further sobering read of the impact of pornography on children. In a review paper Victor C. Straburger et al (Pediatrics March 10, 2010), state that nearly 50% of a sample of 1500 children 10-17 years old had been exposed to pornography, and porn exposure can be linked to earlier engagement in sex. It is also recognized that frequent pornography use among young men and adolescents, “intensifies attitudes supportive of sexual coercion and increases their likelihood of perpetrating assault” (Michael Flood, Child Abuse Review 2009). Yet more information on the impact of pornography on children and adults is found in this Mental Health Library review by Victor B Cline.
Network Filtering – A Tool in the Battle
Trying to limit childhood exposure to, and harm cause by, pornography, inevitably requires a multi-pronged approach. Parental involvement with their children is vital, as is the need to inform both parents and their children of the risks.
Various technological tools also exist, the most well know being computer based filters which have been around for years. A new tool in the bag are network filters, which provide a layer of protection for a whole network, or household, in one go. Often the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) resist the idea of network filters. BT talks of Parental Controls, but seems to want to keep network filtering out of the package.
One ISP, TalkTalk, now provides a network level filter as a free, opt-in, service to it’s customers. Called HomeSafe this allow the account holder to set filtering individually for several different categories, as previously described. In the first 6 weeks, over 50,000 TalkTalk customers opted to turn the filters on, showing the demand in the public for this kind of help.
We would like this kind of package to become a standard service provided throughout the ISP industry in the UK. Ideally, these filters should be set to ‘on’ as standard with the user able to turn them off at will. This will probably encourage the most people to engage with the issues of pornography use and it’s potential subsequent effects.
Obviously, no technological system is going to be fail safe. They all let some sites through and they all incorrectly block some innocent ones. They can all be worked around by the determined. But, by supporting the Network Filter Campaign, you can make a difference and see another parental control tool made routinely available for the increased protection of our children.