Porn filters a turn-off for up to 96% of new broadband customers

Of the ‘big four’ broadband providers, all of which now offer a family-friendly content filter to new customers, only TalkTalk’s actually managed to persuade more than 8% of households to opt in…

An overwhelming majority of BT, Sky and Virgin Media broadband customers are shunning the child-friendly internet settings offered to them by their provider.

Ofcom, the UK communications regulator, found that less than 14% of households offered a porn filter had kept it switched on. The filters are designed to block websites and forums that promote suicide, self-harm and illegal drugs, as well as adult content.

In July 2013, all of the 'big four' providers agreed to offer an "unavoidable choice" to new customers at the point of signing up. The filter is switched on by default, so if you want to be able to visit adult websites you have to actively disable it.

And it seems this is exactly what the vast majority of people have been doing.

According to Ofcom, only 8% of new Sky customers, 5% of new BT customers and 4% of new Virgin Media customers kept the porn filter switched on. TalkTalk, on the other hand, bucked the trend, persuading 36% of new customers to opt in.

Sky and BT launched their filtering services in 2013, and Virgin Media's didn't arrive until February this year, while TalkTalk HomeSafe has been in place for over three years.

TalkTalk was the UK's first major broadband provider to offer a 'network level' content filter - now pretty much the industry standard - which doesn't just apply to one computer, but to every device that connects to your broadband.

A recent survey broadbandchoices survey found that 90% of under-14s in the UK now have a mobile phone, most of which are able to use Wi-Fi to access the internet. Other devices that can be blocked at network level include laptops, tablets and consoles.

While providers are doing more than ever to protect children using the internet, it's still down to mums and dads to ensure that parental controls are properly set up. But there's lots more parents can do besides just blocking porn to protect their kids online.

Earlier this year, a new advice site called Internet Matters was launched to help parents play a more active role in supervising their children's internet activity.

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