Citation: Mitchell, Kimberly et al. “The Exposure of Youth to Unwanted Sexual Material on the Internet: A National Survey of Risk, Impact and Prevention.” Youth and Society. Vol. 34 No. 3, March 2003: 330-358. Accessed 6 April 2009. .
The authors of the study gave a survey to 1,501 Internet-users between the ages of 10 and 17, asking them about their inadvertent exposure to sexually explicit content while online. The results found that 25 % of those polled unintentionally encountered sexually explicit material while on the Internet. The people who discovered sexual content tended to be heavy Internet users and were older teens. About one-fifth of those who accidentally viewed the content were embarrassed and very or extremely upset by it. The minors whose parents had put filtering software on their computers were 40 % less likely to have been exposed to unwanted sexual material. However, most parents did not install filtering softwares on computers. Other forms of parental control, such as restricting the amount time their children could spend on the Internet, did not reduce chance of exposure.
This study is significant to my paper for a few reasons. Firstly, the experiment established that children are inadvertently exposed to sexual content, and that this exposure can cause harm. Knowing that sexual material on the Internet is a problem establishes a greater need for remedies to the situation. Additionally, this study is important because it measures the effectiveness of different types of controls on preventing youth exposure to sexually explicit material in a relatively scientific manner. Since filtering was determined to be more effective than parental restrictions, yet was not perfect at preventing exposure to the content, perhaps resources should be devoted to improving filtering softwares and persuading parents to install filtering programs on their children’s computers. The authors noted that a problem with the study could be that adolescents who have filtering softwares on their computers happen to be more likely to use the web in ways that would shield them from exposure to sexual content, and not the other way around. If this is the case, perhaps the best way to protect minors from harmful content is to educate them better about smart Internet use.
Citation: Etzioni, Amitai. “On Protecting Children from Speech.” Chicago-Kent Law Review. 2004: 3-53. Google Scholar. 5 April 2009. http://lawreview.kentlaw.edu/articles/79-1/Etzioni.pdf
This article discusses and analyses the issues concerning children’s rights to free speech. According to the author, past court cases care more about how restricting access for children would inadvertently affect adults than they do about how there is a compelling state interest to protect children from harmful speech. To remedy this, Etzoini thinks Internet access for children and adults should become separate. Where it is not possible to make a separation, government regulation is needed, because voluntary measures, such as parents choosing to purchase filtering softwares, are generally ineffective. A review of research studies concludes children can be harmed by viewing objectionable media content, although this has been more definitely proven for violent content than for pornography. Etzoini also says that as children get older, they should have greater free speech rights, and should have their content restricted less.
The article provides a counterargument to some of the other documents published concerning how children can be protected from harmful content on the Internet. The Supreme Court cases concerning section 223 of the CDA and COPA were struck down in part because it was believed that there was truly no way for to restrict content for children without also inadvertently restricting it for adults. Etzioni, however, believes there may be ways to separate Internet access based on age. Additionally, this article differs from the arguments made by Thierer, because it favors governmental regulation of content over self-regulation. Etizoni’s reason for the ineffectiveness of voluntary regulation does however relate to a concept Thierer discusses – that of self efficacy. If people’s motivation to filter the Internet content of minors, self-regulation could potentially work. The problem right now is that efficacy is too low for people to want to take an initiative and regulate content.