Parents would rather be given an active choice about whether to filter out harmful internet content than have automatic blocking. That’s the finding of researchers at YouGov, in a survey commissioned by TalkTalk and published today.
TalkTalk was the first, and is still the only, internet service provider to provide an active choice for all new customers, and more than half a million customers have chosen to activate the HomeSafe tool, blocking categories of websites ranging from gambling, to self-harm to pornography.
YouGov asked 2,010 parents what system they thought should be implemented to protect their children from accessing inappropriate content.
37 per cent think that active choice, where new customers are asked if they want their internet to be filtered or not, is the system that should be applied, and a further 30 per cent said their internet service should only be filtered if they ask for it. Just 22 per cent thought that default filtering of harmful content would be the best system.
It is encouraging to see active choice emerge as the preferred option. Our own research shows it is what customers want.
Since TalkTalk introduced active choice for new customers in March 2012, around 1 in 3 are choosing to activate parental controls, which is roughly equivalent to the number of UK households with dependent children in them.
Around 80 per cent of customers surveyed who had been asked to make an active choice thought being prompted to set up controls was a good thing and 60 per cent of those who set up parental controls said they wouldn’t have done so if they hadn’t been prompted.
We are now helping to keep more than half a million homes safer by filtering out harmful content, and we are exploring ways of rolling out active choice to our existing customers.
I believe that internet safety is the road safety of our children’s generation. Road safety required us all to play a part; teaching the Green Cross Code, using seat belts, fitting car seats and so on. Similarly, there is no silver bullet when it comes to keeping children safe online.
However with 92 per cent of households with children using more than one device to access the internet, I believe that controls like HomeSafe, that protect the entire home internet connection, are the only way you can truly offer parents a choice about the content that comes into their homes.