More studies need to be done to test Internet filtering in an experimental setting.
As children and teenagers spend increasing amounts of time online, many parents now use Internet filtering tools (such as parental controls) to protect their children from accessing sexual material online.
However, new research from the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford has found that Internet filtering tools are ineffective and in most cases, were an insignificant factor in whether young people had seen explicit sexual content.
Co-author on the study, Dr. Victoria Nash said, "Though the use of Internet filtering tools is widespread, there has been no conclusive evidence on their effectiveness until now. "It's important to consider the efficacy of Internet filtering."
She added, "Internet filtering tools are expensive to develop and maintain, and can easily 'under block' due to the constant development of new ways of sharing content."
There were also concerns about human rights violations - filtering can lead to 'over-blocking', where young people are not able to access legitimate health and relationship information."
Results of the research indicated that Internet filtering is ineffective and insignificant to whether a young person has viewed sexually explicit content.
Co-author Professor Andrew Przybylski said, "We were also interested to find out how many households would need to use filtering technologies in order to stop one adolescent from seeing online pornography."
The researchers, however, agreed that there should be more research done to solidify these findings. "More studies need to be done to test Internet filtering in an experimental setting, done in accordance to Open Science principles," added Przybylski.
The full findings are present in the journal- Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking.