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Parents: What’s Better than Internet Filters? Direct Conversations About Porn

Think about talking with your kids about porn earlier than you might have initially thought. Whether they’re teens or elementary schoolers, there are ways to discuss porn in age-appropriate ways.

By September 10, 2021No Comments

This article contains affiliate links. Fight the New Drug may receive financial support from purchases made using affiliate links.

For every issue today, it seems like there’s a quick fix. Whether it’s ordering food for delivery when you don’t have time to make dinner, or using mass amounts of duct tape to repair just about anything, there are many convenient ways to solve issues even if it’s only temporarily.

Unfortunately, something that has recently been found to be more of a “quick fix” than previously thought are parental controls and other filtering tools to prevent explicit content from being viewed on electronic devices used by children and teens.

Like duct tape, filtering tools can work for a time, but a study by the Oxford Internet Institute has found these tools to be generally ineffective in preventing teenagers from viewing pornography.

Related: How Early Porn Exposure Traumatizes Boys And Fuels An Unhealthy Perception Of Masculinity

But never fear—there are even better solutions than filtering software.

Bark

Evolving technology in this evolving fight

Kids are curious about sex. Spoiler alert: this is normal and healthy.

What’s not healthy: going to porn for all the answers.

Technology changes quickly, and it seems to be impossible for these different filtering tools to keep up with the changes (though Bark is a great option).

The study found that in order for filtering tools to be effective, anywhere from 17-77% of households would need to have them, and that 99.5% of the time, whether or not a teen encountered sexual material on the internet was dependent on factors other than parental control tools put on devices.

Related: For Parents: How To Update “The Talks” With Your Kids To Include Porn

Considering the majority of kids are exposed to porn by age 13, with some exposed as young as seven according to a 2020 survey, this is real cause for concern. So if internet filtering tools are proving to be ineffective, what should parents do to prevent kids and teens from coming across porn?

As to be expected, none of our answers are quick fixes, but rely on continued research, communication, and investment.

Here’s a short list we compiled to guide a parent through preventing their children from encountering explicit content on their devices.

Conversation Blueprint

1. Open, ongoing, honest conversations.

Think about talking with your kids about porn earlier than you might have initially thought. Whether they’re teenagers or elementary schoolers, there are ways to discuss internet porn in age-appropriate ways.

Every day, we get dozens of messages from people all over the world who are looking to navigate successful conversations about porn with their parents, children, partner, friends, or strangers. This is why we’ve created an interactive, step-by-step conversation guide website, Let’s Talk About Porn. If you’re a Fighter, you need to check this out!

For younger ones, consider children’s books on the topic, such as Good Pictures Bad Pictures, authored by Kristen A. Jenson and Gail Poyner. A junior version is also available for younger children.

2. Be informed and have a plan.

One of the biggest ways to help prevent your kids from stumbling across porn or going to look for it intentionally can be to have information ready on the many negative effects of pornography. Be prepared to have these conversations, when the time comes.

If your child encounters explicit material either accidentally or on purpose, it helps to have a plan and appropriate resources for talking them through the incident.

3. Make “screen time” as safe as possible.

Consider keeping computers and other screens in places that are open, rather than in private and behind closed doors, and make sure to keep up on checking browser history. Likewise, consider proofing any games or apps being downloaded beforehand.

BHW - General

So does this mean I should get rid of my internet filter?

Absolutely not! Many experts say that internet filters are still good tools when they are used in a mixed-methods approach, rather than as a first line of defense.

Combining an internet filter with open communication about pornography and technology, as well as other preventative measures, can help ensure that a child will be prepared when they run into hardcore sites on their device.

Remember: even if your internet is filtered, this absolutely will not stop them from encountering porn in public places, through friends and peers, or some other way. It’s not an “if,” it’s a “when.” But—there is hope, and help. Now more than ever, parents can prepare them and prep them for what to do when they see something.

RelatedParents: If You Don’t Teach Your Kids About Sex, Porn Will

Though it may seem scary to talk about a topic as intense as pornography with teens and children, there are resources in place to help and your kids will be much better off because of it. Check out our free conversation guide resource called “Let’s Talk About Porn” to help with navigating these tough but important conversations.

Being informed and then informing your children about pornography and its negative effects can be some of the best ways to help them navigate the internet and avoid porn. Unfortunately, you can’t rely on a filter to do that job for you, but you can be a constant, trusted resource that your kids will feel safe with and rely on for times to come.

Bark

A tech solution: Bark

In an ideal situation, a child would feel free to tell their parents about what they heard on the playground or found on the computer by accident. Often, they can be too scared to say anything, and the issue won’t be brought up.

We think it’s important for parents to talk to their kids about what porn is before they see it for the first time, and keep the conversation open, shame-free, honest, and loving. Instilling a total fear of porn in a young child may work for a short while, but it’s not a long-term help to keeping the lines of communication open.

Related: 20 Mind-Blowing Stats About The Porn Industry And Its Underage Consumers

If kids feel their parents are open to listening to their struggles or questions, they’ll be more likely to approach the subject whenever it comes up instead of hiding their curiosity and searching for it on their own.

And to help curious minds from looking for answers in the wrong places, Fight the New Drug recommends tech-based solutions for anyone who needs help with web monitoring. This is why we highly recommend checking out our affiliates at Bark—an easy-to-use, smart tool that parents can use to filter and help protect their children online. Bark uses filters and a highly advanced algorithm to alert parents when it detects porn site visitation as well as potential threats or signs of danger, such as:

Cyberbullying

Internet Predators

Depression

Suicidal Thoughts

Sexting

Click here to learn more about their trust-building, common sense online tools and filtering systems.

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