Sunday, 10 July 2016

Keeping Kids Safe

Part 2/3 (to see other parts of the article, click on the pages at the bottom)
Protecting children from pornography exposure

by Cath Hakanson (See all authors)

Children and Pornography – How to protect your child.

When we look at protecting kids from pornography, it depends on what you mean by protection.

Are you talking about preventing your child from deliberately looking for pornography? Or are you looking at protecting your child from accidentally stumbling upon pornography? Or are you looking at teaching your child about what to do when they do find it?

As you can see, it isn’t as simple as just installing some internet filters and leaving it at that. We need a range of strategies if we want to keep our kids safe from the harmful effects of pornography.

As a parent, we need to think of porn as we would think of any other risk that our kids face. Not all kids use drugs, drink alcohol and have an unwanted pregnancy. The reason that they don’t is usually because they have been empowered with knowledge and have made an informed decision.

Here are some suggestions on what you can do to empower your own child!

  • Warn your child.

You need to warn your child by telling them what pornography is and why it is bad.

Warn your child that they may find private pictures or movies of adults doing private things together, they may be naked and it may look like they are hurting each other. We call it porn or pornography. And it isn’t good for kids to see – it is a grown up thing.

Just remember that the younger the child, the less detail they require. As your child grows older , you can start to add in more details. Sometimes finding the right words to use is challenging, and age-appropriate scripts can come in handy.

Try reading your child a book like ‘Hayden-Reece learns what to do if children see pornography’ by Holly-ann Martin from Safe 4 Kids (due to be published in August 2016),‘The Internet is Like a Puddle’ by Shona Innes, or ‘Good Pictures Bad Pictures’ by Kristen A. Jenson. For tweens, the book ‘The Secret Business of Relationships, Love and Sex’ by Heather Anderson, Fay Angelo and Rose Stewart, has a section towards the back that talks about porn.

Books can help when trying to start a difficult conversation. You can read the book, and then refer back to it later on.

  • Where images can be found.

Tell your child that they may accidentally find these images or videos on the computer, their tablets, cartoons, video games, YouTube, phones and even books or magazines.

  • What kids should do when they find images.

That if they stumble across these images, that they need to turn it off or turn away and to talk to a parent or trusted adult immediately. Reassure them that they won’t get into trouble.

  • Internet filters

You can delay exposure for younger children by using software filters or child-friendly apps(like YouTube Kids) or blocking popups. Just remember though, that you can’t use this as your only strategy, as your child may still stumble across images in other ways eg through friends and unfiltered computers.

This strategy isn’t as effective for older children and teens, as they usually work out how to get around parental controls in the home and will have internet access outside of the home. If you have a child who is regularly watching porn, you may want to consider filtering software as well as monitoring software on all internet-enabled devices (computer, tablets, phones, iPods etc).

  • Responsible online behaviour

Parents need to be very clear and upfront in regards to defining the family rules about online use.

>> The computer should ideally be kept in the main living area, with the screen positioned so that it is easily visible.

>> Devices should also be kept out of bedrooms.

>> Limit and monitor your child’s time on the computer.

>> Become more computer savvy – get your kids to show you how a new game or site works.

>> No chatrooms – if used to only be public chatrooms and message boards on kid sites that you have approved.

>> Establish clear online rules (here is an example of a family contract for online safety).