Smart Filtering for internet is your family’s new BFF

Stock image, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Research conducted in the past five years has shown that early childhood exposure to sexually explicit material can lead to dangerous sexual encounters, habits and disorders. However, banning all screens isn’t a realistic solution in today’s world. Fortunately, AWI Networks in St. George has recently launched Smart Filtering for their customers as a way to address the issue.

“It’s like your family’s BFF…Basic Friendly Filtering,” Julie Bishop, customer service manager for AWI, said.

According to GuardChild.com, the statistics regarding what children see and do online are alarming.

  • Seventy percent of children, 7-18, have accidentally encountered online pornography, often through a web search while doing homework.
  • Eight-six percent of girls claim to be able to conduct online chats without their parents knowing, 57 percent could read their parents’ email and 54 percent could conduct a cyber relationship.
  • Law enforcement officials estimate that more than 50,000 sexual predators are online at any given moment.
  • One in 33 youth received an aggressive sexual solicitation. Translation: A predator asked a young person to meet, called a young person on the phone, or sent the young person correspondence, money or gifts.
  • Sixty-nine percent of teens regularly receive online communications from strangers and don’t tell a parent or caretaker.

The largest group of internet pornography consumers is children, 12-17, GuardChild says, and 90 percent of children ages 8-16 have seen online pornography. According to an article in Psychology Today, this early exposure can lead to early, high-risk sexual encounters, sexual violence toward or by another, sex addiction and other intimacy disorders. Per the article:

Boys who were exposed to sexually explicit media were three times more likely to engage in oral sex and intercourse two years after exposure than non-exposed boys. Young girls exposed to sexual content in the media were twice as likely to engage in oral sex and one and a half times more likely to have intercourse.

In addition, the article states, children who have sex by 13 are more likely to have multiple partners, engage in unprotected sex and use drugs or alcohol before intercourse.

In an attempt to address this growing problem, AWI Networks is offering Smart Filtering for their customers, including 40 different categories of content filtering that customers can choose to select individually or as a whole.

The categories are broken into three groups, Bishop said, which are being referred to as “family,” “additional family” and “intense” filters. When enabled, these filters will prevent websites containing blocked content from being pulled up.

The family categories range from pornography and drugs to cyberbullying and violence. Additional family filters include sexual advice websites, sites with mature themes, and dating and gambling sites. The intense filters block social media, streaming media, message boards and chat rooms, among others.

GuardChild statistics state that approximately 89 percent of sexual solicitations of youth were made in chat rooms or through Instant Messaging.

“As parents we go out of our way to protect our family,” Bishop said, “yet with all the media choices we bring into our homes some doors are still left unlocked.”

In addition to protecting children, Bishop said Smart Filtering is also good for business owners, especially the intense filters.

“It’s excellent if you also run a small business and you don’t want your employees getting on Facebook during the day or chatting with their friends.”

The filters are completely moderated by the customer, Bishop said, and can be turned on or off at their discretion. She said:

It’s also good if you’re unsure what your kids are doing while you’re at work … While you’re at work, you don’t want them on social media, you can shut that off and they can only access it when you’re at home and turn those sites back on.

Smart Filtering is $5 per month, Bishop said, with the first month being free. New customers can request it upon signing up; however, existing customers must call the main offices at AWI to add it to their service.

AWI Networks has been in business for approximately 25 years, Bishop said. They used to provide cable TV but are now strictly internet and phone service.

“We’re trying to brand ourselves as the smarter internet company,” she said.

For more information on AWI Networks, go to their website.

Email: pdail@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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