Children and Internet Pornography

  • Accidental Internet Hits.   80% of first-time hits on porn sites are accidental, and the sites are very difficult to get out of because they are linked.  Children as young as 10 are being exposed to online pornography, mostly by accidentally viewing sexually explicit web sites while surfing the internet.  One in four young people had unwanted exposure to soft-core porn (nudity) in 1999, and 60% of that was not reported to a parent.  
  • Exposure to online pornography could lead children to become sexually active too soon, or could put them at risk for being victimized by sexual predators if they visit sites that prey on children.  (Sharon Hirsch, University of Chicago psychiatrist)
  • The internet has exposed children to graphic sexual images in hardcore pornography to a far greater degree than at any time in history.  11 million youth under age 18 visit porn sites each week.  In 2000, more than 27% of children under the age of 17 who used the internet visited adult sites.  
  • Children are intentionally targeted by internet porn producers, as well as magazine owners who purchase spots in stores where children are exposed to sexual concepts.  E-mail teasers have also been carefully worded to lure youth into pornography.
  • Addiction can come with one exposure of Internet pornography in some cases and with three or four exposures with other children.

What You Can Do
  • Every child who has any access to the internet and digital world can be taught about the dangers of pornography in a simple way they can understand.  Parents and grandparents can teach very young children to recognize pornography, how to respond, and how to help a child forget bad pictures.  Read Good Pictures, Bad Pictures, Jr. - a Simple Plan to Protect Young Minds, by Kristen A. Jenson, MA. 

    By age 6 or 7, read your child the book Good Pictures Bad Pictures:  Porn-Proofing Today's Young Kids, by Kristen A. Jenson, MA and Gail Poyner, PhD.  Children will learn 5 powerful lessons:
  1. How to recognize pornography by the way it makes them feel.
  2. How looking at pornography can become a real addiction, like drugs or alcohol.
  3. How to keep their thinking brain in charge of their feeling brain to stay safe.
  4. How to keep their attraction center from being tricked by pornography.
  5. How to use the CAN DO Plan to effectively reject every exposure to pornography.
Additional Resources

  • Some parents rely heavily on OpenDNS, a free wifi filtering service — it redirects all internet activity on your wifi signal to a different Domain Naming Service (DNS) that can be filtered based on your preferences. It works through your router. It filters everything from gaming, gambling, pornography, and lingerie sites to cheating, dating, video sharing, social media, etc.  It has robust options to customize to each family’s preferences. It is a baseline tool, and every family needs some sort of filtering support. It also disables the capabilities of browsers to support “private browsing,” if you select that option. You can see every website that is visited from any device that is using that signal. It is a free service.
  • There are quite a lot of new tools for monitoring teen activity, but almost all of them have workarounds or drawbacks.  Some families do not allow their children to have internet enabled phones, which are too much of a temptation, because there are too many workarounds that other youth will describe and detail.