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How do I protect my child from online pornography?

In the current environment, with children spending increased time online at home, and with expectations to keep up with schooling on devices and reduced access to outdoor play, the risk of exposure to porn has risen dramatically. There is a significant probability that your child may discover porn unintentionally, or be exposed to it by someone else. Children are naturally curious too. They may have heard others talking about words such as sex, boobs, or bum, etc. When they search online, on Youtube or Google images, what they discover will often be shocking and potentially harmful.

Research shows that for young children, unintentional or deliberate exposure to pornography can be upsetting and confusing, and for some, it can also be traumatic.

Navigating this parenting challenge can be daunting. However, we are here to support you and suggest a few simple steps that you can take today to protect your child. 

  1. Ensure that your child’s devices are not used in private areas such as the bedroom or bathroom.
  2. Enable parental controls on devices, social media platforms (where applicable), Netflix and gaming platforms. A number of platforms offer child-friendly versions; ie Netflix and Youtube. We suggest using these as stricter measures are in place to reduce exposure to adult content like porn. 
  3. Install filtering software with age-appropriate settings on the devices your children use. Most filtering software companies provide options for setting time-limits, and some offer parent notifications for known words or phrases that could indicate your child is being groomed or bullied.
  4. Use child-safe search engines.
  5. Get to know the Apps your child is using. When downloading any new App, remember many of them have not been set up with child safety/ privacy in mind. The risk of exposure on platforms can be higher especially if the platform enables private messaging. We suggest reviewing all Apps your children are using and know how they work and never assume that because they are designed for children they have inbuilt protections. For more details on Apps, in general, we suggest checking out Safe On Social for expert advice. 
  6. With younger kids too, they are learning about the online world and curiosity is their main drive, whereas ours is their safety and learning. Make it a habit of checking their device history and discuss anything that may require further explanation or require intervention.

Be aware that despite all the above measures, harmful content can still sneak through. So it is a combination of setting up the digital buffers, having conversations about what your child is to do when they are exposed to porn and checking in with them regularly. A technology agreement can help with this and connecting and being interested in what they are up to online so that you better understand what support they need, will go a long way to setting up an online environment that is about play and learning, which is what we all want for our kids, right?  

Head to our Online Safety page to find out more, or access eSafety’s Taming the technology page and eSafety Guide for comprehensive details on your options for online safety. And if you have questions, feel free to reach out and ask.

Want to make sure you know how to respond when your child is exposed to porn? Go here. 

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How do I respond when my young child has been exposed to porn?

Every young child will respond to exposure to porn differently. However, depending on the age, stage, and temperament of your child, exposure to porn can sometimes create confusion and turmoil. This reaction is common because today’s online porn is most often violent and extreme. A child’s brain is still developing and they are often unable to make sense of what they see. Our aim is to create a safe space for our kids online. We've put together suggestions to guide you on how to respond when you've discovered your child has been exposed to pornography.

STAY CALM and reassure your child that they are not in trouble. Kids will only share details with us when they feel safe, and there is no risk of being in trouble. 

Focus on FINDING OUT ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCE. No parent wants their child to see porn, so it’s naturally upsetting. When we are worried or panicked as parents, we can often start lecturing and assume the worst about our child’s experience, rather than finding out the details of what happened. To respond most effectively, we need to understand how they have interpreted the experience—and that regardless of their reaction, their feelings are entirely valid. Ask questions such as how they came across it, where they saw it, who was with them or if anyone showed it to them, and how it made them feel. Be prepared, however, that they may not want to answer too many questions. Once you have an understanding of their experience, you can then make an informed decision about what to do next.

OFFER REASSURANCE if they are upset, and let them know that you will help them navigate this. If you feel out of your depth or your child is showing clear signs of struggling (which is completely normal!), we suggest seeking professional help to support you both.

TAKE SOME TIME to consider how you want to help your child move forward, upskill with the facts, and decide on the best approach for you and your family. We have collated a list of some great resources that can help you prepare yourself and equip your child with tools to increase resilience to the impacts of porn.

AVOID TAKING THE DEVICE AWAY. We suggest that removing a child’s access to devices should not be a direct response to pornography exposure—they may see this as a punishment and make them less likely to share things with you in the future. Remind yourself that they may not have seen it on their device but rather on someone else’s. If you need to remove the device to set up technology protections, EXPLAIN YOUR ACTIONS and let them know that it’s not because they have done anything wrong but that you are doing this to protect them.

Sometimes you may find out that they have been exposed to the content through someone else or it may be the case that someone else tells you that your child is watching pornography, and when you question your child, they deny it. Such denial is most likely due to feelings of SHAME AND EMBARRASSMENT. In addition, they may feel CONFUSED AND UPSET by the content. We suggest your initial response is contained and validating their experience. Acknowledge that seeing pornography is confusing but can also create excitement and curiosity. Avoid overreacting as this will most likely shut down conversation—the opposite of what you need.

What is most important is to CREATE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR MORE TALKS. The ‘talk’ is not the way to go anymore. It’s multiple conversations, so when they reach teenagehood, the discussion is just a natural progression in the depth of knowledge without the awkwardness. So let them know that you are ready and able to answer their questions about sex and relationships—and that even if their problem seems trivial, foolish or terrible, you will always be available. If you want to upskill on the facts head here for details.

Finally, remember this is not likely to be a one-off discussion because children process things over time, so let them know THEY CAN COME TO YOU ANYTIME to continue the conversation. If you haven’t found what you need, feel free to reach out to us and ask.

Want to make sure the online environment is set up to support the protection of your child from porn? Go here. 

Want to know how to have the essential conversation with your young children about inappropriate online content? Go here.

 

 

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How to have the essential conversation with my young child about inappropriate online content?

When I became a parent, I didn't think down the track I would need to be talking with my child about porn. However, I knew the stranger danger conversation at the age-appropriate time would be essential. The world my child, our children are growing up in has significantly changed and with the current situation our world is facing, time online for our kids has become more of a norm. What this means though is the potential for exposure to porn has also increased significantly. In our other blogs, we suggest simple ways to put in place digital protection, however, another layer of protection is an essential conversation about how you would like your child to respond if they see porn. Why? it's not if but when your child sees porn and ensuring they know how to respond when they do will support in reducing the potential harm. Also for them to know, that its ok to come to you no matter what happens, as exposure often happens without the child's consent. 

Our kids can be exposed to porn via a number of different online platforms;

  • On streaming platforms, some children’s content has been hijacked, like songs, cartoons or games. 
  • A peer or sibling may show them, or a complete stranger via messaging platforms
  • Porn is advertised all over the internet as well, so they may accidentally open spam emails, messages, click on pop up ads on websites, social media, or online games

Like with anything the response from each child to exposure will be different, along with their personality and stage in development, therefore how you speak with each child needs to take into account a number of considerations. We suggest approaching the conversation with the following in mind, with the intention being that if and when they see porn, they know they can tell you about their experience around it:

Start with making a plan, gathering the facts and equipping yourself to feel confident as kids pick up more on how we feel as opposed to what we say sometimes. When considering what to say we offer the following guidance on things to consider;

  1. How old is your child? Using age-appropriate language that you know your child understands, helps them communicate easily. For example: 'If you see something that makes you feel uncomfortable in the tummy' 
  2. Consider the environments they engage with devices in. Does your child have older siblings or hang out with older children often? If so the likelihood of exposure increases and ensuring they are clear that to tell you if someone shows them something that makes them feel funny in the tummy is very important.
  3. How aware is your child already of topics around sex and relationships? Porn is sometimes advertised on school buses these days, and all over the internet, including in games; we sometimes hear kids know a great deal more than what their parents thought they did.
  4. Your personal and family values?

Once you have considered these questions, gathered the facts and made a plan, we suggest a relaxed conversation. For some conversation starters or more tips- we have collated a list of resources for you to check out as well. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions. 

Want to make sure you know how to respond when your child is exposed to porn? Go here. 

Want to make sure the online environment is set up to support the protection of your child from porn? Go here. 

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How to create a Facebook Fundraiser for eChildhood

Here at eChildhood we’re inspired by you, our supporters, and we're so grateful for your financial contributions that means we can continue to do our work.

Facebook doesn’t charge non-profits a fee for fundraising on their platform, so every dollar donated goes directly to supporting our mission. Here’s how you can join in rallying your community to protect children and young people from the harms of online pornography.

Step 1: Open Facebook & navigate to our page

Visit eChildhood Facebook page, then click on “Fundraisers” on the top bar.

Step 2: Click the “Raise Money” button

This creates a shareable fundraiser that you’ll soon customize with a title, a goal amount, and an end date.

Step 3: Personalize it!

Remember, your friends and family will be interested in the cause, but they are primarily interested in you. Add your own text to let them know why you are fundraising for eChildhood. Share why eChildhood’s mission is meaningful to you and how donating to your fundraiser will help protect kids from online pornography. Finally, fill in your goal amount.

Step 4: Customize the photo

Choose a photo that resonates the most with you. Once you’ve selected the photo, click “Done.”

Step 5: Go live and kick things off!

Select “Create” to publish your fundraiser and share it to your Facebook timeline. Nobody likes to be first. It’s always a good idea to kick off your fundraiser by making the first contribution. Potential supporters will know that you are serious about the issue.

Step 6: Spread the word

Give your fundraiser a little momentum by reaching out to your “inner circle” directly on their Facebook profile or via a DM, text message, or phone call. A personal message asking for their support will go a long way. Keep the momentum going and get the rest of your friends involved! Click “invite” or “share” at the top of your fundraising page to reach out to our friends and family directly. As your end date approaches, be persistent in posting your fundraiser to your profile and make sure to keep your community updated on your progress.

 

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Australia moves to protect the age of innocence

The future for Australia's children is looking brighter. 

At eChildhood, we are super excited about today's announcement by the Parliamentary Committee of its  support for the implementation of online Age Verification for online pornography here in Australia.

We are so grateful for all the support from our volunteers, supporters and partners over the years. It's so inspiring to see the fruit of passionate people collaborating to bring a strong and clear voice for the children's right to a porn-free childhood. 

The next steps will see the eSafety Commissioner leading the development of a road map for bringing in mandatory age verification of online pornography sites.

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Australian Government Moves Towards Age Verification

The Federal Government has announced an inquiry into age verification for online wagering and online pornography. We welcome the government's strong leadership on this issue and note the cross-party representation on the committee. This is an important first step and one we must all support to create a safer online childhood for children. The Federal House of Representatives is inviting written submissions, addressing one or more of the terms of reference for this inquiry, to be received by Friday, 25 October 2019. Access the Terms of Reference here

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Child-on-child abuse learnt on the internet

A quarter of all child sexual abuse cases involve another child, new research reveals, with much of the behaviour being learnt on the internet.

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Leading digital wellness expert joins eChildhood

Children and teens are regularly accessing online pornography. It’s one of the biggest and most worrying problems facing parents in the digital age...and it’s not going away.

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