The pervasiveness of the web is such that anyone, regardless of age, is able to gain access to whatever content they please with little, to no, barriers. It is, by design, the benefit that comes with an open web and the coinciding free flow of information.
There is a dilemma that exists in which we have to ask ourselves – what is the age that warrants that level of freedom and access?
The proliferation of online porn is growing at unprecedented rates. WebRoot estimates that 28,258 users are streaming pornography on the internet every second, 37 pornographic videos are created a day, 25% of the searches on the web are related to pornography (~68 million), and more than 200,00 Americans are classified as “porn addicts”.
The full impact of this proliferation is actively being analyzed by think tanks around the world, and governments are beginning to take direct action against its consumption.
Whether you believe it to be right or wrong, governments around believe it to be their responsibility to take action and are actively doing so. States in the United States, for instance, are pursuing similar initiatives.
We are aware of a number of different US based initiatives that are taking online porn head-on. Specifically in Tennessee and Missouri, there are two independent initiatives designed to force Internet Service Providers (ISP) to implement new access and verification controls before accessing pornographic content. This mode of access control would include authentication verification through some form of password or biometric technology.
While the legislation in Missouri and Tennessee are still under review, Idaho has focused its energy on public institutions. In April of 2019, Idaho passed legislation that would force all public libraries to deploy content filtering technology on their networks to block access to pornographic content by July 2020.
The government’s position is the same as many parents, the accessibility of online porn is too pervasive. Unlike parents, however, governments have been investing time, effort and money to understand their impacts. For instance, in 2014 a 12-year old boy from Blackburn, UK was arrested for raping his seven-year-old sister; the contributing factor was what the child admitted was his own curiosity after watching online porn. This is but one of many examples of what governments are calling a rise in “child-on-child” attacks, specifically sexual ones that are being fueled by online porn.
Deploying Clean Browsing Experiences
At CleanBrowsing we are happy to support any government, or public, institution that finds themselves at the end of a new legal mandate or shares similar desires to provide safe browsing experiences on their networks.
Our Free filters are the best in the market and have no access or filter restrictions. The Adult Filter is specifically what your organization will need it. It not only blocks direct access to sites categorized as having adult content, but employs advanced blocking controls on search engines that allow it (e.g., Safe Mode on Google, Bing, etc…). It also provides advanced security filtering technology that ensures malicious sites are kept out of your network (i.e., helps ensure that users on your network don’t accidentally click on hacked sites).
If advanced visibility into the network utilization or additional controls (e.g., custom block pages) are required, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org; we’ll be happy to work with your organization on your specific needs.
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:
Youtube is an open social platform. Only upload videos that are supposed to be public.
If you plan to share a video with a small audience, mark them as unlisted
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.
Talk to them. Explain the risks of uploading and sharing their personal lives online. Once it is out there, it can’t go back.
Supervise. Watch what they are watching and uploading. Make sure that their videos have the right settings (unlisted & no comments).
Do not allow your kids to fall for the pedophiles games (the Lolipop and Yoga streches that Matt mentions on the video).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.