Do you worry about how to protect your child from online pornography? I do.
When I’m creating my Cybersafety Classes, lots of times I search online for images for my videos. Over the years, the amount of pornographic pictures I have seen when searching really innocent words (teenagers, dating, cellphones, etc. ) could make your head spin. The last few months, I’ve noticed a HUGE increase in the number of naked and sexual pictures online. (Some of them were so graphic, it made me feel sick.) It was getting so common and so disturbing, I honestly dreaded looking things up. Every time this happened, I thought about my daughters and how upsetting it would be for them to see some of these images. As a grown-up I could barely handle it.
I started investigating to see if anything had changed with my settings. One thing I discovered was that both Yahoo and Google have options to turn on “Safe Search.” (Mine was not on.) Just by changing this setting, the majority of pornographic pictures were filtered out. (Instructions for turning on settings are at the end of the post.)
I also started thinking about my 8 year old, and how she loves to ask Suri to show her pictures of things. (Unicorns, dragons, etc.) I immediately went to check the settings on her device and made sure it was also set appropriately.
Over the years a lot of parents have asked me about software that helps block inappropriate sites and information. I’ve always advocated for educating kids about how to search safely, instead of relying on software to make good choices for them. I still believe education is the most important piece to empowering kids to use technology safely. However, after realizing how much more prevalent online pornography has become, it might be something to consider, especially for younger kids.
The most popular product available is called: Nanny Net. Not only does it block inappropriate content but it also monitors Social Media usage for things like Cyberbullying and Sexting. This type of software is not foolproof and the older kids get, the more savvy they become at getting around restrictions. Education should always be step one. However, when dealing with younger kids, this can be a good option. (If you choose to use internet filtering software, you will need to purchase licenses for each of your devices.)
As parents, we always want to protect our kids. With the internet, it is not always easy. However, by taking a few minutes to check the settings on your computers and devices, you can protect them from a lot of really graphic, inappropriate information and help them use technology safely.
To change your search settings on Yahoo:
- Go to the Yahoo Search box and type “search”
- Click on the gear icon in the upper right hand corner and go to “Preferences”
- Choose “Safe Search”
- You will have options: Strict, Moderate or Off ( I recommend starting with “Strict” and if too much regular content is filtered out, then adjust to moderate.
To change your search settings on Google:
- Start at www.google.com
- Click “Settings” in the lower right hand corner
- Choose Search Settings
- Turn Safe Search On.
On an Iphone, Ipad or Ipod:
- Go to “Settings”
- Choose General
- Find Restrictions
- Here you can enter a passcode to block adult content. You can even specify what movies you want them to have access to, music, videos, websites, etc.
If you find that too much regular content is being filtered out, you can adjust your settings.
Please share this information with your friends so we can protect our kids.