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: Thierer, Adam. "Parental Controls and Online Child Protection: A Survey of Tools and Minds." Version 3.1. Fall 2008. Progress & Freedom Foundation. 5 April 2009. <http://www.pff.org/parentalcontrols/Parental%20Controls%20&%20Online%20Child%20Protection%20[VERSION%203.1].pdf>
Thierer’s document covers a variety of aspects and issues relating to parental control of children’s media consumption. Different methods of controls are discussed, including informal rules implemented by parents, ratings systems, filtering and monitoring software, increased media literacy, self-regulation by companies and governmental regulation. Much of the document relates to media other than the Internet, but the Internet is discussed, particularly when describing different types of filtering programs and the Internet’s relationship to the problems with governmental regulation. Because no one method of parental controls is completely effective, Thierer concludes that parents take an interdisciplinary approach when regulating their children’s media content, and employ a combination of strategies. Educational and empowerment and informal strategies have the added bonus of being the least likely to restrict freedom of speech. There is also a discussion of how to protect children from sexual predators online. Age verification and extensive data monitoring are seen to be a poor remedies, while the right solution is determined to be “education, empowerment and enforcement.”
This article, much like some of the other documents, places an importance on efficacy and education as optimal ways to protect children from the dangers of the Internet. The focus of the ineffectiveness of other types of controls relates to questions concern those methods’ constitutionality which supports my theseis. The document is a particularly good source because it is very detailed and thoughrough in its analyses of the types of contols. This article also helps to better compare and contrast the views of Thierer and Palfrey, who co-authored another source. While they may have disagreed about reforming CDA 230, the two men both supported internal regulations by parents and community members and desires for non-governmental groups to come up with their own strategies concerning controlling content. Thierer is perhaps more skeptical of technology than Palfrey is, and he places more of an emphasis on educating and empowering parents and children about how to optimally use the Internet.