Internet Filtering Technology and Aversive Online Experiences in Adolescents

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Abstract

Objectives

To evaluate the effectiveness of Internet filtering tools designed to shield adolescents from aversive experiences online.

Study design

A total of 1030 in-home interviews were conducted with early adolescents aged from 12 to 15 years (M = 13.50, SD = 1.18) and their caregivers. Caregivers were asked about their use of Internet filtering and adolescent participants were interviewed about their recent online experiences.

Results

Contrary to our hypotheses, policy, and industry advice regarding the assumed benefits of filtering we found convincing evidence that Internet filters were not effective at shielding early adolescents from aversive online experiences.

Conclusions

Preregistered prospective and randomised controlled trials are needed to determine the extent to which Internet filtering technology supports vs thwarts young people online and if their widespread use justifies their financial and informational costs.

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