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Parents, Kids, and Pornography on the Internet:
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Clearly, there are a lot of sources for someone seeking pornographic materials on the Internet. Nonetheless, many parents trust their children not to go looking for this material. "Oh, my kids wouldn't be interested in looking for that," was a common reaction among the parents we spoke with. A debatable point, according to some of our teenage reviewers.
But what was not debatable was the reaction we found among a group of parents SuperKids recently invited to search the Web. Most expressed significant surprise -- not at the availability of pornography on the Net -- but at the frequency of unintentional exposures any Web searcher or surfer will receive.
How easy is it to accidentally encounter pornography?
Although there is an incredible amount of content available on the web that contains sexual content -- over 755 million pages according to Google -- the likelihood of truly accidentally encountering it, has declined.
For example, in 1999 a shopper's search for young boys clothes on Excite! produced four objectionable sites in the top ten search results. Click here to see an example of what we encountered. Similar results were obtained using all the other then-leading search engines we tried: AltaVista, HotBot, Infoseek, and WebCrawler.
OK, you say. But my kids aren't likely to look up "young boys clothes." Another reasonable search for a young student -- zoo animals produced a result on HotBot that was even more(!) objectionable than our previous search.
The same searches conducted today on Google, produced no unintentional porn-containing pages for these previously scary searches, when conducted early in 2009. Progress? Clearly.
But what of the inquisitive child? A recent British study determined that the average teen there spent 87 hours/year, looking at porn on the Internet. That's an hour and 40 minutes a week.
What should parents do?
There is a vast amount of pornographic material easily available on the Internet. At a minimum, make sure your children know your feelings about it, and what your expectations are for their behavior.
Perhaps more importantly for most parents, is the reality that frequent unintentional exposure to pornographic sites is unavoidable. Once again, making sure your children know how to handle this is crucial. If you have young children, you may want to seriously consider using one of the software filters SuperKids has reviewed.
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