With the release of a survey published in USA Today, there's been a lot of talk about kids and their nefarious use of the Internet. The most alarming piece of information being passed around is that kids as young as 6 are surfing for pornography online. While it's certainly good to be aware of what our kids are doing online, it's equally important that we point the finger of blame in the right direction.
Having a 6-year old myself, I find it incredibly difficult to believe that kids this age are intentionally looking for pornographic images online. Just this morning, my daughter asked me to go online for her to print some coloring sheets. We visited three sites upon her request—Education.com, PBS.com, and Disney Jr. Add ABCMouse and NickJr, and you've got the extent of her online interests. Call me naïve, but I'm pretty sure pictures of naked people are about the last things she would think to Google.
Does that mean I'd let her use a search engine without some degree of monitoring? Of course not, but it's not because I mistrust her or think she'd use the opportunity to make trouble. The truth is, I trust her to do things 6 year olds do online—play games, watch silly YouTube videos, and look for printable coloring pages. What I do not trust is that she'll be able to locate these harmless things online without accidentally stumbling upon something that would scare, confuse, or disturb her.
Whether we'd like to believe it or not, there are people online who are intentionally trying to do all of the above. Why else would someone insert a graven image or explicit content into a cartoon and publish it on YouTube? For whatever reason, some people get a sick thrill out of corrupting innocent children and, as parents, it's our responsibility to keep our kids out of their reach.
In a perfect world, we could let our kids play outside as kids should without fencing them in or playing helicopter parent. Those days are over, though, and most parents these days accept that. What many parents have yet to accept, however, is that we can no longer keep the dangers of the world out of our homes and away from our children by simply locking the doors at night. The Internet has given the bad guys unfettered access to our children anytime they go online, whether it be on a laptop, tablet, or Smartphone. The question is: what do we do about it? In our digitally-driven world, banning the Internet is a temporary solution at best. Sure, we can talk to our kids about online safety until we're blue in the face, and we should! But none of that is going to keep our little ones from seeing an explicit image in a video that masquerades itself as G-rated. Internet filters are the only tools that will keep this kind of accidental exposure from occurring.
Qustodio uses smart technology to filter out harmful content that slips past ordinary monitors. Find out more about why it's the better way to protect your kids online.