10 Tips to Protect Your Children from Internet Pornography

Wednesday, April 9, 2008 | Labels: , , | |

With the continued sexualization of society today more and more expectations are being placed upon parents to protect their children from both pornography and sexual predators. There has been a surge of Internet based attacks directed at children to entice them into both participating in and viewing pornographic materials.

Many of these companies and individual websites make revenues off of (RPC) Revenue-Per-Click or (RPM) Revenue-Per-1000 Impression models. They value very little who actually clicks on or views the advertisements and reach out to the broadest market they possibly can to generate these clicks including children. Some have even resorted to targeting children with cartoon characters or toys.

This article gives 10 tips for the parents who are looking to protect their children. It will briefly reveal to you how to track all of the videos and images stored on your computer to determine if any pornographic material is stored on it and offers a suggestion for a free pornography filter and useful approaches to learning more about internet safety and communication. This list is by no means exhaustive.

Tip #1: Educate Yourself.

There are hundreds of techniques kids can use today to hide their Internet tracking. It is important for parents to realize that kids are on the Internet daily, and if they come across websites such as the one you are viewing now, they can learn methods to hide their surfing habits just as you are trying to learn how to find them. For this reason it is important for parents to stay ahead of their child in educating themselves on how to track, view and monitor surfing behavior.

There are a number of resources you can find on the subject. Google will be your best friend in this endeavor and it is recommend you get your feet wet by searching for various search terms on Google such as "protecting kids from pornography" and "monitoring my child's surfing behavior". There are thousands of resources out there, one simply just needs to go looking for them.

Tip #2: Check your computer for all image and video files on a regular basis.

Depending on how often your child uses the computer, it is important to remember that many kids come across pornography on accident even though some access it intentionally. To search for all the image and video files types that are typically pornographic on your computer you want to look for pictures with the both the .GIF and .JPG file extensions and video files with the .MPEG, .AVI, .MP4, .QT, .MOV and .WMV extensions. These are standard image and video file formats, so it will also find all of your regular photos and videos you may have stored on the computer as well. To do this follow the steps below:

  1. Click 'Start'

  2. Click 'Search'

  3. If you have the search companion (the dog), click "All Files and Folders"

  4. In the search box, enter "*.GIF" without quotations and click Search
All of the files on your computer with the .GIF extension will show up, then it is a matter of going through them to see if any abnormal photographs exist. You will do steps 1 - 4 above with all of the file extensions listed above to check for all types of files pornography typically takes on a computer.

Tip #3: Monitor your computers internet tracking "cookies".

All websites sites often store what is known as a "cookie" onto your computer with their domain address attached to it, the filenames typically look something like "cookie:username@domain.com". The 'domain.com' can reveal whether a user on your computer has visited a particular site with sex content assuming that website has a domain that suggests it. To check your cookies follow the steps below.
  1. Open 'Internet Explorer'

  2. Click 'Tools'

  3. Click 'Internet Options'

  4. Under 'Browsing History' select 'Settings...'

  5. Select 'View Files...'

All files in your temporary folder also have a section called 'Address' that will tell you where a photo, text file or cookie originated from. As an important side note, if there are no files in your temporary internet folder or no cookies this is a sign that someone has wiped the history from the browser and is attempting to cover their tracks. Take this as a red flag. Remember though, that by default this folder clears itself every 20 days, so you could have caught it just after its 20 day cycle.

Tip #4: Learn how to install and master an Internet pornography filter.

There are a number of Internet pornography filters out there, I would suggest starting with the free one entitled K9 Web Protection which has presets for content that is considered pornographic. Once you have downloaded and installed this filter, do not just enable it and walk away. As we have discussed before, kids today are extremely computer savvy, and understand that there are ways to get around filters.

The user who installs this filter can add additional sites to the filter, so it is important to know your child's interests and go online and search for sites yourself to add to the filter you might deem inappropriate. This filter will give you the ability to keep your child from accessing certain websites, and if they find that one of their own sites that you do not find offensive is blocked, you can allow them access to it after viewing it.

As an additional important side note, make sure you change the password to your pornography filter on a monthly basis and ensure it is a password that is not easily guessable.

Tip #5: Approach your child with humility.

If in the instance you find pornography stored on your computer it is important not to panic. This will provide you a wondrous opportunity to communicate with your child about sex. It is very likely that they know all about the subject matter in this day in age, between friends, television, movies and the Internet it is very unlikely that they have not encountered the subject in great detail.

At this point one should sit down with their child and communicate to them the importance of avoiding pornography, and the pains it can cause on a relationship. Christian parents can communicate to them the dangers established by God that point out that people can become addicted to pornography and it can become a danger to their joyous connection with God. It may not seem like your children are listening, but believe me, they are listening more than you know.

Remember that pornography is a weakness for many individuals, and many of them know they are not supposed to be viewing it. If they didn't already realize they weren't supposed to be viewing it or downloading it they wouldn't have hidden it from you. For this reason, it is important not to lash out at them, rather to communicate to them why it is important for them to avoid it.

Tip #6: Have the computer in a room where there is family traffic and windows from the outside looking in.

This is quite possibly one of the most effective methods of protecting your children from pornography. Having the computer in a family room where there is constant traffic from all members of the household and having it in a room where there are windows from the outside looking in will keep a child from going to sites they know they ought not be going. It also will give the parent and opportunity to discuss it with a child if they happen to see their kid come across it by accident.

Tip #7: Be persistent.

It is important to keep on track with both the filters and tracking surfing behavior. Many times it is over long periods of no accountability that leads a child to continue visiting places they ought not to visit. As a result, they may start viewing materials they should not be viewing, and if they find that they are not being held accountable for those materials then they will continue to view them more and more often as they get away with it.

It is important to catch the accidental or intentional surfing behaviors before they develop into anything too significant to address, doing so will benefit both you and your child greatly if it is caught early.

Tip #8: Get involved.

The internet is an exciting and wonderful educational resource, odds are your child has found all sorts of wonderful and entertaining things they love to visit. Take the time to get involved in what your child is experiencing online, become a part of it, view the sites with them and learn what is so fascinating about it. Be careful though, you just might find yourself having a good time in the process.

Tip #9: Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. Sheltering into the teen years will not do the trick.

It is understandable if you want to make sure your children are not exposed to pornography at an early age, but once they reach the age of being a teenager, sheltering them is not going to do much good. At this point, they will be hearing about pornography and sex from television, movies, school, friends, the internet, magazines and many more places. At this point you must become a great communicator to them about sex and lust and teach them the importance of not 'using' others to give themselves pleasure.

This will need to be done on a consistent basis, perhaps as you are watching television with them or if you come across an article in their magazine. It will be uncomfortable at first, but after awhile it will likely become normal and they may become more comfortable talking to you about it. Be very careful to avoid the trap of sheltering your child their whole lives and never teaching them 'why' it is important to not do certain things. It often results in them not being able to handle the world as it really is, and when exposed to it, the complete opposite occurs, they reject you and embrace the world.

For Christians, it is important to 'apply' the word of God at this point, a simple "God said so" will likely not work, you will need to be able to explain to them why God said so and why it is important to them personally in their relationships with both others and with God. I recommend a book entitled 'The Truth About Sex' by Kay Arthur and for the young adult who is struggling with lust a book entitled Impossible Joy.

Tip #10: Seek out more than just these tips and understand all the threats.

This website is far from the only resource for educating yourself and for useful ways to protect your child from internet pornography. There are various other threats that exist out there including websites that encourage children to continue their anorexia or bulemia and how to hide it from their parents as well as sexual predators who use social networking sites to communicate and entice children into doing things they normally wouldn't do. Even though the internet is a wonderful resource and an amazing tool, it is both as useful and as devilish as the individuals who participate in it.

In Conclusion:

Remember that as your child begins to grow they will want more and more Independence, and you may need to adjust or tweak these tips depending on how old they are or how well they understand the importance of avoiding particular places on the Internet. This will become especially true in the teen years. Many kids will rightfully desire an amount of privacy when it comes to talking with their friends over e-mail or through social networking sites. This should be taken into consideration and within your discretion as their parent.

Craig Chamberlin

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