Chapter Nineteen: Keeping Your Child Safe from Explicit Content

The Internet provides easy access for people of all ages to explore hundreds of thousands of websites that suit a large variety of interests. Unfortunately, what can be good for some may also be dangerous for others. For children, the Internet can be extremely graphic and can expose them to many things parents desperately try to shelter them from on a daily basis. This chapter will explore how to keep your kids safe from seeing the things they shouldn’t be seeing.

Monitoring devices and parental control software

As discussed earlier, many search engines offer filtering options that are built for the sole purpose of protecting children from explicit content. The Internet is a wide arena for anything and everything, so it is not surprising that filters exist to block explicit and graphic content out for certain groups of people, namely children. Simply clicking "turn filter on" can save you from being worried about what your child is looking at online. Beyond turning on filtering and parental settings on the computer, there are monitoring devices and software that actively monitor and block certain sites from being accessed.

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Since studies have shown that children who are exposed to violence may become more aggressive later on, it is important to talk to your children about violent content online and block it as much as possible. Blaming the creator and the advertisers of this media is not the answer. Taking proactive approaches to this issue is the best thing that parents can do to protect their children from violence. In addition to housing the computer in a neutral space, parents can check the browser history after their children use the computer, and are encouraged to have a talk with their children if they see they are visiting suspicious or inappropriate sites.

Pornography Websites

Violent and graphic language is not thought to be the biggest threat to children using the Internet – pornography is. Due to this, violence and vulgar language are less monitored and more widely available for children to see and hear in movies, television, and in everyday life. On the other hand, sexual content usually gets a "rating" on a scale that warns just how explicit and/or violent the content is, alerting parents and children what is appropriate and not for certain ages. Pornography in certain movies and on websites have ratings too, such as "NC-17," wherein children are absolutely not allowed to view the content, unlike other ratings that still allow children to view content when accompanied by an adult.

As children get older and get more computer savvy, they learn how to get around the software, and can even start to access these websites on their smart phones or tablets. Some downsides of these devices include the limited amount of Internet experience someone needs in order to learn how to deactivate the software, the uncertainty of filtering out what actually needs to be filtered, and lastly, the lack of flexibility with these programs. Younger children need more protection than older children, but not all programs give you the ability to filter by age or specific content. If you begin to notice suspicious behavior such as clearing Internet history, spending excessive time online, closing tabs when you come near, or getting defensive when asked about their Internet etiquette, it is encouraged that you talk to your children about their computer habits. Take an active role in finding out what your child is viewing and accessing on the World Wide Web. The Internet is a vast sphere of influence, so being proactive in your child’s life is essential for their safety. Talk to them, find out what is going on in their lives, find out what they are curious about, answer any of their questions and be supportive of their interests. Review the following checklist from Internet Safety 101.

rules and tools