Keeping Kids Away From Porn

Unfortunately, pornography has become an almost ubiquitous presence on the Internet today.  As easy as it is to register a new domain name, putting up an adult website is a simple matter of an hour or two of work.  The ease of putting up an adult site and the sheer profitability of the sex industry makes for a dangerous combination when your kids are involved.  Ever since the Internet became widely available in homes across the country (and world), parents have been fighting a battle to keep adult material from finding its way to their kids’ screens. 
 
Mass emailers send out millions of emails per day to randomly generated addresses, lists that are offered for purchase, and addresses that are gleaned using web crawling spider programs.  Almost everyone who has an email address has at some point received (without solicitation, of course) an email advertising naked pictures.  For most adults, it isn’t a problem, because once they see the subject line, it is a simple matter of hitting the delete key.  For children, however, curiosity often takes the reins and gets the better of him or her.  One click can lead a child down a dangerous path of deceit and addiction.  There are ways you as a parent can prevent your child from stumbling on pornography, though.
 
First, get a good content filter.  If you make the computer itself the first line of defense against unwanted material, you make your job that much easier.  A decent content filter allows you to set restrictions on what websites can be visited, either by scanning the content of the website or by specifically naming the disallowed sites. 
 
Get acquainted with how a search engine works and the features of each one.  Most major search engines offer a filter of some sort that determines what kind of content it will return  with a search.  Seemingly innocent searches can often lead to unwanted results, especially if the owner of a pornographic website tags the site with certain random keywords to produce those search results.  Believe it or not, it is possible to have a website about baking cookies, and set up the site to show up if someone searches for crayons.  It’s all about the content of the sites and the tags that the site creators choose to attach to them. 
 
Be very clear about the rules of the house regarding computer usage.  If one family member goes looking for adult material, another might accidentally find it.  A lot of websites actually put tracking files called cookies on your computer when you visit them.  These cookies actually broadcast to other sites like the first one that you have visited, and are likely going to visit again.  In some cases, this can lead to interesting advertisements showing up on a search engine page, for instance.  Some websites (adult or not) place banner ads that are targeted to each individual visitor using these tracking cookies. 
 
It may not always be possible to keep every last bit of adult content from making its way past your email filters, search engine filters, or content filter software.  Due to the unbelievable quantity of such material, the law of averages says that someone in your household either has already been exposed or will be exposed.  Therefore, the best content filter you can employ is and always has been yourself.  Monitor a child’s use of the Internet.  If you think that they’ve been getting inappropriate emails or visiting websites, have a frank discussion where you lay out the rules and consequences in detail.  If curbing online pornography in your house is a priority for you, you have a long fight ahead, but well worth it. 

Have a great day!

Lawrence