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.
- Ensure that your child’s devices are not used in private areas such as the bedroom or bathroom.
- 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.
- 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.
- Use child-safe search engines.
- 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.
- 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.