Internet Porn and Its Impact on Kids

When we started CleanBrowsing we set out to create safe browsing experiences in our own homes. As parents to pre-teens, and like most kids, our kids were spending a tremendous amount of time online and we were afraid of what they might stumble on while surfing the web.

As technologists we didn’t want to hold them back from exploring the world that has been at the core of who we are, but we did want to put training wheels on the process. What we never planned, or accounted, for is the problem that is internet porn.

How big is the Porn business?

To put into perspective, conservative estimates have the industry pegged at $15Bn in revenue a year, with low estimates close to $6Bn and high estimated in excess of $95Bn (Source: QZ)

Calculating its proliferation on the web is hard, there are different studies conducted on the subject; many go back many years. Technologies growth is exponential on an annual basis, let alone over a period of years. A lot of the studies seem to be driven by specific ideologies, and it’s why looking at the economic impact can be more objective. Unfortunately, because the industry is predominantly private it’s next to impossible to really gauge the size of the industry.

While it’s difficult to gauge the economic scale of the industry, we do gain a much deeper appreciation for it’s size by looking at some of the stats provided by the most popular porn syndication – Pornhub:

2018 was an impressively big year for Pornhub and its users. Visits to Pornhub totaled 33.5 billion over the course of 2018, an increase of 5 billion visits over 2017. That equates to a daily average of 92 million visitors and at the time of this writing, Pornhub’s daily visits now exceed 100 million. To put that into perspective, that’s as if the combined populations of Canada, Poland and Australia all visited Pornhub every day!

Pornhub’s servers served up 30.3 billion searches, or 962 searches per second. To make sure there was always fresh content to satisfy those searches, Pornhub’s amateurs, models and content partners uploaded an incredible 4.79 million new videos, creating over 1 million hours of new content to enjoy on the site. If you were to start watching 2018’s videos after the Wright brother’s first flight in 1903, you would still be watching them today 115 years later! (2018 Usage Statistics)

The Affects on Kids

Most recently, while visiting with extended family I was having a conversation with my aunt in which she shared the following story:

Yes, the web is crazy. Just the other day your cousin (11 years old) came into my room shaken. He wouldn’t say anything, and I thought something serious had happened. He finally broke and told me that while he was online he came across a very weird site. On the site the guy was doing something to the girl. He couldn’t understand why he was doing it, he felt as if it was something he wasn’t supposed to be watching, but he couldn’t help himself. He couldn’t stop watching.

As we continued to chat, she told me that it took him a couple of days to come forward with this information. During that time he found himself continuously thinking about what he had seen. On one hand he felt that it was bad and against his religion, but on the other he was fascinated by it.

CovenantEyes performed a study and found the following:

  • – 57% of teens search out porn at least monthly.
  • – 51% of male students and 32% of female students first viewed porn before their teenage years.
  • – The first exposure to pornography among men is 12 years old, on average.
  • – 71% of teens hide online behavior from their parents.

Porn has always been there, but here at CleanBrowsing we can’t help but believe that today’s Porn is very different than we experienced in the 80’s. The proliferation and intensity of the videos, images and their accessibility scares us. Mainly because of our eye-opening experience with adults and their struggles with porn addiction. We can’t help but anecdotally recognize, while not fully researched, there is undoubtedly going to be some correlation between porn consumption and the psyche of our kids. We base this hypothesis on the number of adults we’re currently helping with their own online porn addictions; addictions that have become debilitating for many.

Creating a Safe Browsing Experience

As a parent, I found the experience my aunt described to be disturbing. While engaged doing something else on the web, something interrupted my cousins experience with something that brought him distress. Things like this shouldn’t happen, and it’s why we built CleanBrowsing; it’s impossible for us to shadow every action our kids take online, and protect them from the unsuspected, but we can use technology to help us get ahead of it.

If you share a similar belief and want to create a safe online experience in your home or organization, feel free to use our Free filters. We have Paid plans that provide more granularity in the controls and visibility on your network, but the Free plans are just as effective. If you have any questions, please feel free to email us

Youtube is Facilitating the Sexual Exploitation of Children, and it’s Being Monetized

If you have young kids (well, and if you haven’t), I recommend watching this video by Matt Watson where he describes a ring of pedophiles misusing Youtube to share videos of kids in compromising positions (and in some cases even child pornography):

It is long, but worth a watch. It was already picked up by the media and many companies stopped their Ad Spending on Youtube until it is fixed. However, even if when fix this hole, others will come. So as parents, we have to be careful on what our kids are watching and uploading online. Starting with Youtube.

Safe YouTube For Parents

Many of these videos were actually uploaded by parents without malice. Whenever you are uploading videos online, this is what we recommend:

  1. Youtube is an open social platform. Only upload videos that are supposed to be public.
  2. If you plan to share a video with a small audience, mark them as unlisted
  3. Disable comments.
  4. Maybe don’t upload it at all. Find other ways to share them privately (Dropbox, email).
Safe YouTube For Kids

The other aspect is dealing with kids recording and uploading their own videos.

  1. Talk to them. Explain the risks of uploading and sharing their personal lives online. Once it is out there, it can’t go back.
  2. Supervise. Watch what they are watching and uploading. Make sure that their videos have the right settings (unlisted & no comments).
  3. Do not allow your kids to fall for the pedophiles games (the Lolipop and Yoga streches that Matt mentions on the video).
  4. Enforce the Strict or Moderate mode on Youtube, so when your kids are watching videos online, they are only seeing safer videos. We do that automatically on our Free Family filter.

Stay safe!

How to disable YouTube on a Nintento Switch: Add a Custom CleanBrowsing DNS

If your kids are into gaming like ours, then you are undoubtedly familiar with Nintendo’s Switch gaming device.  Like all the other gaming devices, this system introduces an unfettered gateway to the web. Kids can easily access all forms of content, including YouTube. Some families prefer to disable YouTube on their kids devices, and with CleanBrowsing you can do that via the paid plans.

Note: You can limit what users can do on YouTube with our Family free filter. By default it sets YouTube to moderate. Moderate mode is the less strict mode, but blocks access to videos with possible violence, sexuality or adult content. It also blocks comments. Learn More

Disable Access to YouTube via DNS

The easiest way to block access to YouTube on your kids devices is via DNS. This section assumes you have not already created a unique profile in your account.

First, log into your account, and follow these instructions:

  • Navigate to Profiles
  • Create a New Profile (e.g., kids)

After creating a profile you’ll see a new entry under Profiles (3), this binds your account to a new set of DNS IP’s. This is what you’re going to use in the Switch.

Specifically referring to this row:

Note: When you first create the profile the IP to the right of the DNS IP’s will be blank. If you want to see the traffic in your profile you need to bind your local IP to that DNS IP range.

To bind the IP to the DNS IP’s, navigate to Your Network in your dashboard.

Once on the Your Network page:

  • Set your profile to the one you created (e.g., Kids) (2)
  • Enter the IP, we show your by default (3)
  • Click Add the IP to the DNS (4)

Now you want to disable YouTube for any users coming from the IP you just created and that are using the DNS IP’s assigned to the Kid profile.

You make this configuration in the Custom Domains section.

Once on the Custom Domains page:

  • Set your profile (e.g., Kids) (2)
  • Click the dropdown, and select your option (e.g., Blocked)

Now any device that comes from the IP you selected, using the DNS IP for the Kids profile, will have YouTube blocked.

Apply Changes to Nintendo Switch

To apply this to your Nintendo Switch navigate to the Network Settings. You do this by double tapping the System Settings on the home page:

Click on Internet

Click on Internet Settings

Select your Network (SSID)

Select Change Settings

Scroll down, click on DNS Settings, we are going to switch from “automatic” to “manual”

You will have to update the Primary and Secondary DNS. You do this by selecting each individually.

You will switch the entries with the DNS IP’s from the Kid profile in your dashboard. The end result will look something like this:

Don’t forget to hit SAVE

Assuming everything is correct, when you open YouTube on your Switch you’ll be greeted with the following screen:

Bonus Tip: Once you have the profile configured you can add the new DNS IP to any device you want to follow the same rules. Example might be all your Kid devices, including laptops, mobile devices and desktops.

New Desktop Agent for Mac Supports Custom Profiles

We just released an update to our Mac agent that allows you to quickly configure your local DNS resolver to the CleanBrowsing IPs. It provides the ability to bind your machines IP to your paid account. This is especially important if you want to apply rules that your machines must comply with, even if they are not on your home network.

Accounting for Dynamic IP addresses with Paid Accounts

You want to download the latest installer from here:

Follow the installation prompts, you will be greeted with the following screen:

You can see I have the Free Family Filter enabled on my device. You will also notice a new Custom Filter option. This custom filter options allows you to bind your local IP to the DNS resolver configuration in your CleanBrowsing paid account.

When you click on Activate next to the Custom Filter you’ll be greeted with the following screen.

To enable the feature you have to request a custom code from your account dashboard. Log into your paid account here:

There are four steps to make this work, three are in your CleanBrowsing dashboard:

  1. Navigate to Settings > Your Network
  2. Enter a name for your Device (e.g., johns_macbookpro), click Add Device
  3. Copy the url:[code]

Once you have the information, navigate back to your CleanBrowsing app and copy the new link into the input field.

Click Activate, and you should now be activated. It might ask you to allow the application to make changes, it’s ok – click “ok”.

This activation not only sets your local DNS resolver to your home / organization DNS resolver, it also create a local job that checks your IP and binds it to the DNS IP. This means you can now track all your traffic, whether you are on the network or not. This is a critical piece to ensuring that whenever the device is on the web it’s held to the same viewing standards you’ve set for your own network.

An easy way to check is to open your Network Settings and confirm the DNS IP is the same as what you see in your CleanBrowsing dashboard:

Please let us know if there are other features you’d like to see to make your network management easier.

9 Clear Warning Signs That Your Kids Are Exposed To Internet Porn

Your innocent YouTube-watching child might actually be watching pornography on your smartphone. It’s a disturbing thought for most parents but research shows that it’s not a rarity. In fact, several studies including a research by American Psychological Association found that on average most children have their first exposure to porn before they’re even 13 years old.

Almost 50% of them view porn for the first time by accident on someone else’s device (mostly parents). It’s happening right under your nose and you’re absolutely clueless about it.

But do you know what’s even more disturbing?

Despite such dangers, most children get their first smartphones by their 10th birthday. It’s no surprise that many of them start watching porn from a very early age and some even become lifelong addicts.

Source: HopeForTheSold

So what exactly can you do to protect your children from exposure to internet pornography?

With so many smart devices around us, it’s not an easy task. But the first step is to actually find out if your child is already consuming internet porn.

Based on research, here are a few behavioral patterns that should ring alarm bells for you. While there may be other causes for these patterns, if you find more than a couple of them in your child you should immediately take notice.

1- Your Child Spends Too Much Time Using Smart Devices

Did you know that only 13% of children use smartphones with parental restrictions? The rest are exposed to all kinds of content on the internet.

There’s a reason why tech innovators like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates banned cell phone access to their children until they were in their mid-teens.

Smart devices can be addictive if not used with care. Studies show that a staggering 82% of children and teenagers view pornography on smartphones and tablets.

Source: HopeForTheSold

Children nearing teenage have developing brains that find smartphones and adult content much more addictive as compared to a grown up. Once addicted, they can easily lose track of time and spend hours consuming illicit content.

Which is why if your children are spending more time than usual on the phone you should have a good look at their online activities and try to limit unnecessary access.

2- Prefers Isolation and Spends Hours Behind Locked Doors

Excessive smartphone usage is usually followed by an increased preference for isolation. If that’s happening to your child, don’t ignore it because it’s a major warning sign that something’s not right.

Children exposed to porn often have mixed feelings of excitement and shame. They feel a strong urge to view pornography when they’re alone and look for ways to get away from their parents or guardians to a place where no one’s watching.

With time, this behavior intensifies and becomes a permanent personality trait even after children reach adulthood.

Source: Northpoint

Such children also routinely spend more time than usual in the shower and their bedrooms, and there’s an increased secrecy to everything about their lives.

3- Is Overprotective of His Smart Devices

To keep them safe, young children should never be given access to smartphones without parental controls and clear usage guidelines. Parents should be able to access their children’s devices any time without any restrictions.

However, that’s often not the case with children who view pornography on their smartphones or tablets. In fact, such kids are usually overprotective of their phones and hesitate to allow access to anyone else.

If your child has suddenly added a security lock or password to his phone and keeps it close to himself all the time (even when going to the toilet) you should intervene.

4- Stays Quite, Depressed and Uninterested in the Outside World

The relationship between depression, anxiety, and pornography is pretty well documented. This mainly has to do with how viewing porn frequently, alters the human brain.

These effect are exaggerated in children because their brains are still developing and more vulnerable to the extreme emotions that a person experiences while viewing porn.

As a result, the affected child experiences depression and a general lack of motivation about everything in life.

5- Has Irregular Sleep Cycles and Struggles To Get Up in the Morning

If your child has access to his smartphone and the internet even in the bedroom then you need to keep a close eye on his sleep patterns and his energy levels in the morning.

According to research, most people log in to porn sites after midnight on weekends and after 10PM on weekdays. Bedtime porn consumption can go on for hours because there’s nothing else left to do in the day and no one is watching.

When that happens, a child may experience lack of sleep, headache, and may struggle to get out of bed in the morning. If you see this happening regularly, or notice your child sleeping at odd times of the day, you must look into the matter with more concern.

6- Panics and Changes Online Activities If You Suddenly Show Up

How does your child react if you suddenly enter his bedroom, walk up to him or ask to use his smartphone?

Does he panic, stops whatever he’s doing and appears nervous? If yes, it might be a good idea to actually see what’s running on his device.

It’s a natural reaction since most children who watch porn realize that their parents won’t be happy to know about it.

7- Has Started Struggling at Studies and Extracurricular Activities

Falling grades, deteriorating academic performance, and a general preference for smartphones or tablets over extracurricular activities are some of the major signs of porn consumption in children.

Researchers at NCBI found that the working memory of children and teenagers who regularly viewed porn deteriorated over time. Such children also suffered from lack of motivation and found it hard to compete with their peers.

As a result, they were much more likely to stay away from outdoor games and competitive activities that are crucial for personality development.

8- Can’t Concentrate for Long and Has Sudden Mood Swings

The loss of working memory, which I just mentioned, also has a direct impact on a child’s ability to concentrate on a task or assignment. This is why children who are exposed to porn early in their lives often find it hard to perform mind intensive tasks.

Source: HelpYourTeenNow

This can also lead to sudden mood swings, unnecessary aggression and other forms of erratic behavior in children. Look out for these changes in your child and see if they’re connected in any way with his smartphone usage habits.

9- Has Increased Interest In Sexual Topics, Discussions, and Content

Sex is a fascinating topic for teenagers (and even young children) and it’s common for them to talk about it with friends. But if your child suddenly starts taking a lot more interest in sex related TV programs or frequently mentions sexual terminologies in conversations, it’s a clear red flag that shouldn’t go unnoticed.

Protect Your Children From Unwanted Sexual Content

Internet porn is a reality that you cannot change or runaway from. You also can’t disconnect your children from the world and completely deprive them of the knowledge and the learning resources available on the internet.

But you can keep a close eye on their activities, guide them about internet usage, and protect them from any content that can have detrimental effects on their minds and personalities by using adult filters and strict parental controls.

Trust your children but don’t leave them unguarded on the internet because (as I mentioned at the start) most children are exposed to sexual content for the first time by accident.

Make sure your child browses the internet without any surprises.

Introducing a New Desktop Agent for MAC

We are excited to release a new agent for Apple Machines. This agent allows you to quickly set our Free profiles on any of your desktop / notebook devices.

You can access the agent here:

Step 1: Download the DMG file

Clicking on the link here will automatically begin the download:

It will be downloaded to your default downloads folder (defined in your browser).

Step 2: Open DMG File

When you double click the DMG file you will see this prompt:

Step 3: Drop the App into your Applications Folder

This ensures that it’s readily available.

Step 4: Open the CleanBrowsing application

Navigate to your “Applications” folder, and double click the CleanBrowsing application

Step 5: Confirm the request to open

Because you are downloading from the web you will be asked to confirm the download. Proceed with “open”

Step 5: Configure Free Filter Profile

Now you choose one of the two available free profiles.

And that’s pretty much it.

DNSCrypt with CleanBrowsing Custom Filters

In addition to supporting DNSCrypt on all of our free filters, we also support DNSCrypt on the custom filters that you can configure on your CleanBrowsing account.

If you don’t have a CleanBrowsing account, you can use it to gain visibility on your DNS activity and customize the type of filtering you need to have on your network:

To get started with DNSCrypt there, you first have to go to Settings->Network in your dashboard and look for the DNS Encryption subsection:

In there, you will find the SDNS stamp that you can use to connect to our DNSCrypt server via DNSCrypt-proxy, DNSCloak or any other software that supports it.

If you are using dnscrypt-proxy, you can get that SDNS stamp and paste into the static section of your configuration:

stamp = ‘sdns://AQMAAAAAAA..…XUjykRQ2xlYW5Ccm93c2luZy5vcmc’

And change the server_names to use it:

server_names = [‘cleanbrowsingcustom’]

Our custom filters support DNSCrypt, DNS over TLS and DNS over HTTPS, so try it out when you have a chance. We offer a more complete guide for Windows and Simple DNSCrypt.

Phishing Campaign against k12 schools and universities

For the last week or two, a new phishing campaign started to target k-12 schools and universities.

A couple of school IT administrators emailed us asking if we ever saw something like this before, so we think this is a good opportunity to remind everyone to be watchful for those phishing campaigns. Phishing campaigns happen very often and have many variations, but this last one seems to be more mass spread against a large number of schools at the same time.

Phishing Scam Emails — Are you Available?

This last phishing scam campaign is actually very simple and tries to convince teachers and staff members to buy gift certificates and send them back to the scammer.

The email subject just says: “Follow up” or “Are you Available” or similar variation and asks the person to reply back asap. If the person replies, the scammer replies back that he is busy on a meeting and that he needs a $200 or $300 gift card from Amazon or iTunes. Very similar to what was reported here months ago.

Mmmmm… Phish flavored spam… We’ve been getting a lot lately where the miscreants are setting up a account with the name setup as, you guessed it, our head of school and then emailing the entire campus. End goal: gift cards.

In this new campaign, we are seeing 2 email formats:

Along with the old one of just As silly as it may sound, people still fall through for it. Specially on mobile, where seeing the real email is not as easy. We heard reports of teachers buying and losing a few hundred dollars because of it.

Update: There are 2 recent redditthreads about this same subject. And in one of them an employee paid the scammer:

Not sure if anyone has seen this, but three schools I support has seen it today alone. The email address is headofschool[randomnumbers] but the name on the account has been an administrator. Subject has been “Follow Up” and message just says “Are you available?” One employee responded to this and they ended up getting them to send $100 in iTunes gift cards.

Protecting against this Phishing Campaign

For this specific campaign, we recommend that you go to your Email provider and:

  • Black list any sender containing *headofschool*
  • Black list any sender containing *schoolname*
  • Black list any sender containing *principal*

But for the long term, one of the best investments you can do is to engage into some type of school wide phishing training to get the teachers and rest of the staff aware of phishing and its dangers.

Duo Insights is a good and easy to use product (not affiliated with us) if you are looking for such solution. Knowbe4 also seems to be well recommended.

Stay safe!

Safe Image Search for Kids

Image search is an useful way to find content online. Unfortunately, image search can often generate some explicit surprises that young kids are not ready for.

Image Search Dangers

Searching for images is a fun way to quickly find visual results for what you are looking for. You can easily find maps, equations and graphs for almost any content. The problem, is that buried within the clean results, you may get explicity images.

The other concern is that depending on the search, explicit & adult content may be displayed right away. Not a good surprise to have.

Image Searching for Kids

Young kids – For young kids (under 10-11), we recommend Kiddle for their searches online. It blocks most suspicious keywords, including scary images and adult content. It is very restrictive, but works for most of what kids look for (homework, games, etc).

k-12 kids – For kids that are a bit older, Google’s search engine is actually one of the best and offers a strong way for parents to enforce Safe Search. If you are using CleanBrowsing, that’s auto-enforced, so your kids are good to go, and if you are not, you can configure it manually by following these steps.

Want to prevent your kids from going to unsafe image search sites? Give CleanBrowsing a try. It only takes 5 minutes to enable it by following these instructions.