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Monday, 23 September, 2002, 07:56 GMT 08:56 UK
Parents' TV concerns grow
Children watching TV
Parents are increasingly worried about their children's viewing
Protecting children from inappropriate material on TV and the internet has become increasingly difficult for UK parents, according to a report.

Research carried out by the BBC, the Broadcasting Standards Commission (BSC) and the Independent Television Commission (ITC), suggested parents and carers felt under increasing pressure to exercise control over what their children see.

Most perceived a risk that children would be affected by images of sexual activity, violence and bad language.

This was put down to the growth in the number of TV channels as well as the increasing popularity of the internet.

But many of those questioned also said they always tried to strike a balance between control and maintaining an open, trusting relationship with their children.

More than 500 parents of children aged five to 16 took part in the study. It showed that parents use various informal controls to regulate their children's viewing.

They include keeping an eye on what they are watching, limiting the time they are allowed to watch, random checks and discussions about programme content.

Listings

The survey also highlighted what parents and carers felt about external methods of protecting children from potentially harmful TV programme content.

Most said they relied heavily on the 2100 "watershed", after which adult content could be screened.

A child using a computer
Protection methods on the internet are also found too complex

However, many also said they wanted better information about programme content in TV listings and onscreen announcements.

The internet was shown to raise considerable uncertainties among parents.

Many said media reports about sites featuring pornography and paedophilia had made them more concerned.

Confusing

Even when they were confident in their children's ability to regulate their own use of the internet, they still worried about accidental exposure.

Despite their concerns and the availability of control mechanisms, parents said they did little to control their children's internet usage.

Most control, as with television, was informal - such as placing the computer where it was visible or only allowing the parent to switch on the computer.

Most parents felt current technical tools available for controlling their children's use of the internet were too complex to install and lacked simple age categorisation.

See also:

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