Preventing children accessing porn – it’s a parents responsibility too!

27 Feb

Bloggers, Mihaela and Jon of Blogger Power have come up with an interesting meme. This one doesn’t ask you to list your favourite varieties of cheese, or name fifteen books you have never read. Instead, it consists of an open letter to the producers of internet porn, requesting that they make it more difficult for children to access their products by introducing password only access for the free sections of their sites. You can read the letter below:

Please require a password-protected login before allowing even free access to explicit adult content. We understand that selling porn is your business and we respect your right to make a legal living. But understand our legitimate concerns and work with us. You already have the “warning adult content” on your websites. Yet kids, who are not legal customers of your product, ignore the warning. So to prevent them from having direct access to explicit images, texts and sounds, the simplest way is to have a password-protected login. No more “free tours” before a visitor supplies basic information.

I admire their sentiments, and I do think that if this measure were to be introduced it would have some impact on the number of children who see internet porn, either intentionally or accidentally. However, I feel this alone is unlikely to affect the viewing habits of teenagers. Since time immemorial, teenagers, especially boys, have had an interest in sex. Asking them for a password is not going to lessen the chances of them accessing free porn.

Adult material is legal in varying degrees in most countries. Personally, I don’t have a problem with this. However, there are laws about the kinds of material that young people can access, just as there are laws about the age at which one can drink alcohol, or drive a car. This is correct, people are given rights at an age when they can be reasonably expected to be act responsibly. The difference between porn and cars or alcohol is that responsible parents actively prevent their teenagers from drinking or driving before they are old enough to do so, yet many of the same people allow their sons and daughters to use the internet in their bedrooms, far away from the supervision of their parents. What is more, many (very responsible parents) boast of their internet illiteracy.

Yes, the producers of internet porn should make it more difficult for anyone who is under-age to access their material, but, parents should not expect someone else to safe-guard the moral welfare of their children. It isn’t hard to monitor internet usage, or to discover which sites have been accessed.

Computers should be in the main, family areas of the home, not tucked away, out of sight in bedrooms. This is a policy we have always had, and it is one which makes it very easy to monitor the internet usage of the junior members of the family.

Parents should make an effort to learn more about the technology their children are using. It isn’t clever or funny to remain in the dark. Knowing how to access the logs of the family computer means you can find out who, went where, and how often. My sons know that we check that information, and that deleting it won’t help, it will just arouse suspicion.

Young children may be less inclined to access unsuitable sites, but may stumble across them accidentally, therefore their parents should at least use the ‘safe search’ option which most search engines provide. This can be turned off later if adults wish to use the internet. Purchasing and installing one of the products which restrict access to certain sites is even better, this too can be turned of when it is not needed. Naturally, neither of these options should be considered an alternative to supervision.

So, yes, I do support the aims of this meme, but it should not give any parent a reason to think that the ultimate responsibility does not lie with them.

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