Most parents who grew up in the 80’s were exposed to pornography in a similar fashion, visiting a friend’s house your friend pulled you aside and showed you a parent’s dirty magazine or perhaps you were the friend who’s parent had it and you were the one sharing with your friends. Many probably remember the games played to mock each other “Are you a virgin?” There was no right answer in 3rd or 4th grade – few if any knew what that word meant and you would be teased no matter your answer.
Did you ask your parents what a virgin was? – highly unlikely. Did you ask your closes friends, the ones who you knew wouldn’t laugh at you or at least you could all laugh together at the unknown? – possibly. Jump forward to the world of the Internet and guess who the kids are asking – Google!
Google won’t judge them, won’t tell them they’re in trouble, won’t insist on a long discussion about sex, and probably most importantly won’t laugh at them for asking. Instead what Google will do is likely in the long run far more damaging, Google will expose them to the vast amounts of porn on the Internet.
You see most kids are unlikely to click on the dictionary.com definition of virgin, or any other number of words you can imagine they are hearing on the playground, and much more likely to click on “Images”. Try this at your own discretion or if you don’t have the stomach for it, generally what you’ll find depending on how you phrase the search are images of child exploitation / pornography, numerous women in some form of undress, images of female genitalia, Madonna, Virgin Airlines images, and some pornographic bondage images.
So is that the introduction to sex you want your kids to have?
Anne Marie Miller a public speaker on this subject recently posted “In almost all of the stories I heard, this is how someone was first exposed to pornography – Google Image searching. The average age of first exposure in my experience was 9 years old.”
So what is the solution?
One major downside to Google is that it provides no parental controls. One option is to only install browsers that have parental controls, however being realistic most tech savvy kids will find a way around that fairly quickly. Another option is to install firewall that does content filtering; many businesses do this as a regular practice to keep unwanted Internet activity down in their offices. Another alternative that is gaining in popularity is installing programs like Qustodio which not only allows blocking of harmful sites, but also provides parents a list of web searches, list of applications used and time spent on each, web activity by page and time spent, and more.
So if you’re looking to avoid Google being your child’s sex ed teacher there’s no time like right now to start taking proactive steps. Ms. Miller said 9 was the average, taking these steps when your kids are as young as 6 or 7 certainly can’t hurt and may keep them protected from images and content you don’t want them viewing.