Educating Your Kids on Dealing with Sexually Explicit Content
The internet is a great place for children to have fun and learn new things. But it also presents a fair share of age-inappropriate content that your children may unintentionally stumble upon.
One example of such content is sexually explicit materials. Your children are just a click away from online advertisements featuring scantily clad women or even pornography.
A survey polling 836 students (aged 13-15 years old) was conducted by TOUCH Cyber Wellness in 2014 to examine teenagers’ exposure to pornography 1. The survey results showed:
- One in two teenagers has watched or read sexually explicit materials, with some as young as seven when they were first exposed to it.
- One in three teenagers admitted viewing pornography in the past year, whether intentional or accidental.
- 77 per cent of those exposed to sexual content accessed it through smartphones.
- Five per cent of the teens who had seen pornography encountered it first in lower primary levels – at age nine or younger.
It is important that you educate them and help them know what they should do when they encounter such content.
Monitor online activities
It is important that you monitor what your children are doing online using parental control software or simply checking their browsing history in the web browsers. This will give you a good idea about where to start when you educate your children on this matter.
If you notice that they have accessed a suspicious-looking website, take the chance to talk it through with them and let them know how you feel about the website.
Use child-friendly search engines
Most search engines provide filtering tools that can protect your children from undesirable content. Google’s filter, known as SafeSearch, serves to filter out any adult content from the search results by scanning through keywords, phrases and URLs.
Once you turn on this feature, you can then lock this setting to prevent your kids from disabling it. By having your kids use a child-friendly search engine, it will reinforce what content qualifies as acceptable or not.
Encourage open sharing
Have your children cultivate the habit of voluntarily sharing their online activities with you. As they may be worried about getting into trouble if they tell you about their encounters with age-inappropriate content online, it is essential to create an environment for them to talk to you comfortably.
Let your teens know that they can come to you any time and you will not take away their rights to go online. Rather than shunning this taboo topic on sexually explicit online materials, you also want to make this a common educational topic around the house.
Give them useful contact details
If your children still don’t feel comfortable speaking with you about this topic, let them know that they can talk to another trusted adult such as relatives whom they are closer with or their teachers. Have these trusted adults feedback to you about what your children have shared to them so you too can act accordingly and take the relevant precautionary measures.
Alternatively, you can also give them details of some helpline that they can call into if they wish to speak to someone else in confidence. Here are some useful contacts that your children should take note of:
- TOUCH Cyber Wellness (TOUCHline, Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm): 1800-377-2252
- MeToYou Cyber Care (under Montfort Care): www.metoyou.org.sg
- Singapore Children's Society (Tinkle Friend Helpline, Mon-Fri, 2.30-5,30pm): 1800-2744-788