V-Chips and Software Filters
The professional middle-class parents would have been the first to nudge me when Katie Couric reported on the RAND Corporation’s finding that watching sexually explicit television programs is linked to teenage pregnancy.3 But these same parents are less likely than their less privileged peers to activate the V-chip on the television.4 They also differ in their use of filtering or blocking software on the computer. Nationwide, about a third of all parents do use this kind of software (with an additional 5 percent having done so previously but having discontinued its use within the past year).5 But as the sociologists Rong Wang, Suzanne Bianchi, and Sara Raley report, parents with lower levels of education are more likely to rely on filters than are those who are more highly educated.6 The same was true in the present study: whereas three-quarters of the working-class and middle-class parents were interested in a software filter on a computer in the home, only slightly more than half the professional middle-class parents expressed similar interest.7 These findings do not mean that the professional middle-class parents are unwilling to impose controls on the use their children make of computers. Nor do they indicate that parents are uninterested in monitoring what their children watch on television. To the contrary: they eagerly embrace hovering over and directing their children as they surf the Internet or watch television, ff owever, as with a child locator, these highly educated parents are far more willing than are those with fewer educational accomplishments to substitute their own control for the control created through technology.