THE BLOG
22/11/2013 11:45 GMT | Updated 25/01/2014 16:01 GMT

Ten Things You Need to Know Before You Filter Porn

In an effort to curtail "poisonous websites" that "corrode childhood", David Cameron wants web firms to build in filters which porn users will have to actively opt out of. It seems like a vote winner, but will it work? Here's 10 things you need to know before you filter porn...

1. One in seven children saw sexual images online in the past year, according to a study of 25,000 children across Europe which was carried out by The London School of Economics in 2011. (EU Kids Online)

2. Age limits on social networking sites don't work - 38% of 9 to 12-year-olds

have a social networking profile. (EU Kids Online)

3. Most online contacts are people children know face-to-face; 9% of children have met up with someone they first encountered online, but most didn't go alone and only 1% had a bad experience. (EU Kids Online)

4. Predictably, older teenagers use porn more. An online study of 4,600 young people aged 15 to 25 years carried out by Gert Martin Hald of the University of Copenhagen found that more than 88% of young men and nearly 45% of young women had used pornography in the past 12 months. Personal dispositions-specifically, sexual sensation seeking-were found to be a more important predictor of sexually adventurous, or risk taking behavior, than the consumption of sexually explicit material.

5. A 2011 Portman NHS Trust study of 18-24 year olds males found that those who looked at porn for 10 hours or more a week were worried about it influencing their behaviour. However, only 4% of the males in the study had problematic porn habits and frankly, studying porn use in a percentage of the population who are generally underemployed and often have far too much time on their hands is hardly representative of men as a whole.

6. Given the number of screens most kids now have access to, the only way to protect young people from the worst excesses of porn is to explain to them that an interest in sex is natural, and healthy, but porn is to normal sex, what Barbie and Ken are to normal humans.

7. Previously, there was a risk that younger teenagers who searched for porn featuring kids of their own age might unintentionally violate child pornography regulations. New filters will flag up search terms that are illegal.

8. Fewer than one in three 11 to 16 year-olds say they can change internet filter preferences and most say parental action to limit their internet activity is helpful.

9. There is a danger that filters will block websites that provide teenagers with crucial advice on sexual health, sexuality and relationships. Recent ONS statistics estimate that 43% of people over the age of 16 use the internet to seek health advice and information.

10. And if you need directions to Essex, Middlesex or Sussex... forget it.