Helping Your Teenager Avoid Inappropriate Content

The simple action of going online puts teenagers, children, and adults alike at risk of being exposed to inappropriate or pornographic materials. Sometimes this is by accident, sometimes it is on purpose. Your child may be exposed to this type of material through choices of his own, through an Internet search with unexpected results, or while at a friends house. However, there are a variety of actions that you can take to limit or prevent your child’s exposure to these types of materials.

First, be sure that your child understands that your family’s Internet rules apply no matter where he is. Whether he uses the Internet at home, the library, or while visiting a friend, the rules and consequences should be the same. Setting these types of guidelines help your child to understand the reason for the rule, as well as the consequences for breaking it.

Second, be aware that sometimes your teen really might be exposed to sexual material on the Internet by accident. Seemingly innocent searches can yield unexpected results, no spam filter can keep out all sexual email, and advertisers may go out of their way to target teenagers and young adults. If you find a visit to a sexual or inappropriate website on your computer’s history, ask your teenager to explain it before you jump to conclusions. This also opens the floor for you to talk about the Internet, your family’s rules, and sexuality.

Third, use filters as appropriate. Be sure that Google’s safe search feature is turned on, for both text and image search results. Take advantage of any parental controls that your operating system features, and consider installing a separate piece of parental control software. These tools will help to filter out a large amount of the inappropriate content your child could be exposed to.

Keep in mind that inappropriate content can take any kind of file format. Be alert for suspicious audio, video, pdf, and text files, not just pictures or emails. Content can also be stored in a variety of mediums, such as on flash drives, CD’s, or your computer’s hard drives. Be aware of where your teen stores files, and ask to view these locations regularly – perhaps on a routine schedule.

By taking these steps, you should be able to limit your teens exposure to pornography and sexual content. However, it is still important that you take the time to talk with him about the Internet and how to use it responsibly. Your teen will need to learn to set guidelines for himself and make responsible decisions. With these decision making skills, he’ll be well equipped for Internet use, regardless of his location.

Have a great day!