How parents can keep kids safe from pornography online

May 14, 2014

Tags: , , ;

The Internet is a wondrous tool that provides access to an endless supply of content across the entire scope of human understanding. Unfortunately, this also includes inappropriate content that can be all too easily available to young, impressionable children.  In fact, even the most innocent of searches can include pornography in the results, if the right typo or word combination is used.   While some search engines have made an effort to make accessing pornography more difficult, porn is still quite accessible for children. What can you do to make it more difficult for children to find and access pornography? 

1. Use an Internet filter - There are a number of applications you can install, including Net Nanny, that will monitor activity on the Internet. These pieces of software can be set up much like a router’s firewall by denying certain words and websites. Most of them will include a report that is emailed to you regarding your child's online activities and what words were used when posting material online. While some believe this is an invasion of privacy, others view this as a preemptive measure to quell certain behaviors before they become problematic.  

2. Have Open Discussions - One effective method to teach children about Internet safety is to have regular discussions about the proper use of online materials. This should include inappropriate sites and activity. Don't lecture the child, but have an open discussion with questions and answers from both parties. Knowledge is empowering and allowing the child to develop an understanding of the proper ways to use the Internet can be quite effective.

3. Make Internet Use Public - While every child loves the idea of having a personal computer in his or her bedroom, keeping devices in the open reduces inappropriate activity. This is especially true if computers are in an area that is frequented by parents and others. This removes the privacy factor and greatly reduces the chances of someone playing an inappropriate game, being involved in inappropriate chatting, or visiting websites the child knows he or she shouldn’t visit.

4. Restrict Usage - In extreme cases, some parents have restricted usage of the Internet. These restrictions could involve only using the Internet when the parent is sitting with the child. The only real problem with this method is that it doesn't go into detail about why the child shouldn't visit those sites. You may monitor closely what your child does online, but his or her friends may have other rules in their homes.

5. Know How Your Firewall Works- Most homes have a basic firewall that can greatly reduce the capabilities of coming across pornographic material. Usually, this firewall is located within your home's router that connects your computers and devices to the Internet. Understanding its settings can help you prevent those inappropriate websites from being accessed. Depending on the brand of router you have, you can:

  • Set certain keywords to be denied
  • Set actual addresses from being accessed
  • Set specific computers to apply the filter
  • Restrict access by time of the day

Your firewall’s user’s manual should have instructions pertaining to the use of the firewall. If not, you can input the router's model number in Google and learn how to use your device more efficiently.

Although the Internet can be a scary playground for young children, it can be a grand tool providing a seemingly endless amount of knowledge. By being proactive, you can limit your child’s exposure to undesirable content and equip him to handle any inappropriate content that comes his way.