Washington Parents are not making wide use of readily available technology that can restrict what they consider objectionable television shows or Internet sites from being viewed by their children, a study finds.
Two in five parents surveyed reported having a v-chip or other device on their sets that can block programs with violence, sex and crude language. Only half of those parents have activated the devices, according to the study released today by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.
Also, one-half of families say they have Internet access at home. But before allowing their children to search the Internet, only one-third of parents have activated software filters that can block certain Web sites.
A 1996 telecommunications law required all new televisions, 13 inches and larger, sold after Jan. 1 to be equipped with the v-chip technology. Content-blocking software can be bought or downloaded for free. Some Internet access providers include the software with their services.
"But parents are not using these tools to guide their children's (viewing)," senior researcher Amy Jordan said.
Fewer than one in five youngsters can get around v-chip restrictions and only one in 20 children can evade computer filtering technology, the study found.
The report, "Media in the Home 2000," was based on telephone interviews with 1,235 parents with children between ages 2 and 17, and 416 children ages 8 to 16. The parents' survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. The children's part had a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.