By default, every device that connects kids to the internet also connects kids to porn. It’s that simple —and it’s that infuriating! To keep kids safe in the digital age, parents need to stay one step ahead of trends and know exactly what they are up against.

Keep kids safe —boy looking at tablet

In this post we’ll highlight 9 major culprits that should be on every parent’s radar in 2018!

Want to teach your kids how to stay safe from pornography in every situation? Get our FREE Quick Start Guide for Proactive Parents at the bottom of this post.

1. Apps that let porn slip past parental controls

In 2018 so many kids are growing up with a device in their hands from the time they leave the cradle.

In response to a question about the age recommendations for Amazon’s Fire HD 8 Kids Edition, one mom enthusiastically replied, “My eleven month old loves it, if he breaks it it will be replaced [free of charge], and it is saving my phone!”

Whether it’s a tablet at age two (not that we’re recommending it) or a smartphone at twelve, many parents believe the myth that if a browser has not been installed (or parental controls have been set) kids will be safe from all internet dangers. But not so!

Earlier this year Chris McKenna shared how easy it is for kids to find hidden doors to the internet through apps. Even the Holy Bible app can lead to porn! That’s because most apps also come with a built in search engine.

Here’s a simple example: If your kids have any live chat features on their device though any app, they could be sent links to porn that are not registered on the browser.

And here’s the kicker: getting on the internet through an app completely bypasses parental controls that have been set up on the device! It’s a completely unfiltered internet experience. That’s seriously scary stuff!

2. Xbox, PlayStation, porn bots and sextortion

Sextortion is one of the fastest growing threats to online safety for kids and gaming systems are a breeding ground for predators. Police in the UK report being inundated with calls almost every day about children pressured into sharing explicit pictures and videos of themselves online —some of these kids are as young as 10-years old!

Gaming systems are notorious for introducing kids to porn. Sadly, our friends at Protect Young Eyes report gaming systems may be where parents most underestimate the risks. Dangers inherent to gaming systems include:

  • Violent, hyper-sexualized content of many games
  • Live-chat features connect kids with complete strangers
  • Pornographic content live-streamed via webcams
  • False notions of invincibility inspired by conquering gaming levels translating into more risky online behavior
  • Failing to set age appropriate parental controls
  • And NEW for 2018 —porn-bots!!

According to mic.com, without strict privacy settings in place, gamers (of any age) could be solicited by porn bots multiple times in a 24hr period. These porn bots will start with generic questions: “What are you doing? What’s your age?” Then quickly move to more provocative messaging. If the gamer takes the bait, they’ll be invited to view a “private webcam” show.

These solicitations could be scams to get credit card information, introduction to a porn site, and/or sextortion traps.

3. 50 Shades: Mainstream media normalizes domestic abuse

50 Shades of Grey is poised to wash out the #TimesUp “Blackout” (inspired by the recent Golden Globes). But you can do something about it!

50 shades of grey is abuse

Hollywood has lined up (for the third time), another pathetic promotion of domestic and sexual abuse for Valentine’s Day. “50 Shades Freed”, billed as the final climax in the E.L. James trilogy, has convinced millions of women and teen girls to fantasize about a relationship that is a living hell for abused women everyday. In a year marked by not one, but two, powerful anti-abuse campaigns (#metoo and #timesup) we find this unconscionable.

At the 2018 Golden Globes, Oprah Winfrey recounted the story of Recy Taylor, a woman who was brutally raped and beaten by 6 white men in 1944, as she walked home from church. Recy never saw justice in her lifetime because her abusers were beyond reproach.

But can Oprah’s speech resonate in our society if women (who are the major purchasers of 50 Shades) continue to support the normalization of sexual violence in mainstream media?

When “50 Shades of Grey” became a movie in 2015, it made over 85 million dollars in its opening weekend and teens in Florida who had been denied entry “stampeded” their way into a theater. Social media was buzzing with controversy over the BDSM (bondage & discipline; sadism & masochism) and abuse themes within the film. 

Visit fiftyshadesofabuse.com. Flood social media with the truth about 50 shades. Talk to you your sons and daughters about why this franchise is abusive against women and is a threat to the both the #metoo and #timesup campaigns.

4. School library databases push porn to students

Most parents trust their kids’ schools to filter out the dark side of the internet. Unfortunately, porn will be pushed to millions of American kids in grades K-12 through their school’s library portals, the ones they use to complete school projects and find educational resources.

In fact, students using EBSCO Information Services can easily get links to graphic sexual material using innocent search terms like “7th grade biology.” No wonder the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) has added this company to their Dirty Dozen list.

Although EBSCO promises “fast access to curriculum-appropriate content,” its system actually bypasses school internet filters and delivers XXX content to America’s elementary, middle school and high school kids.

What can you do to keep kids safe using school resources? Find out here (including how you can see for yourself if your kids can link to porn via their school databases). Then ask your school principal about their library databases. Continue to talk with your kids about the harms of pornography–no matter where they find it.

5. Porn won’t disappear from Snapchat —your teen’s favorite social app

Snapchat has a serious porn problem. But despite what many parents fear, it’s not access to sexualized content that draws kids to Snapchat. Young people say the “disappearing posts” give this app an “in-the-moment” vibe that for teens feels real and honest. That is, until you get the Discovery section which has fake written all over it.

Snapchat’s Discovery is really an advertising section (Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Buzzfeed, Self and more) that poses as a news feed. It contains highly sexualized adult content that the Snapchat creators say they can’t or won’t control.

What’s incredibly annoying is this feature cannot be removed, customized or edited in any way. Subscribers to the app have to scroll past the Discovery section every single time they want to see their friends’ stories.

There’s literally no way to keep kids safe from sexualized headlines and images that the advertisers provide. Bare bums, near nip slips (nipples) and silhouettes of naked women are everyday experiences with Snapchat Discovery. It’s difficult for curious minds not to get lured in. You can imagine what images might go with these headlines:

  • 14 Drunk Convos Every Woman Has Had”
  • “12 Awkward Things that Can Happen When You Have Sex with a New Partner”
  • “Everything You Wanted to Know About Penis Tattoos”
  • “How to Treat Camgirls, According to Camgirls.”
Warning: Predators know how popular Sanpchat is among young people. They use the app to both contact kids and send and receive child pornography. Snapchat’s disappearing features make it more difficult to track predators.

12-year-old New Hampshire girl told investigators she’d used Snapchat and Kik to send numerous explicit photos of herself and her 10-year-old sister to a 33-year-old man in Fort Wayne, Ind., at his request.

6. YouTube features free porn (no help to parents trying to keep kids safe!)

Although YouTube has been forced to start cleaning up their act on their popular YouTube Kids app, this profitable site (with over a billion users!) will still be pushing porn to your kids in 2018. That’s why YouTube remains on the Dirty Dozen list created by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.

Here’s a run down of the problems with YouTube.

  • YouTube ignores their own strict Terms of Use, which specifically prohibit sexual nudity, pornography, and other sexually explicit content. Massive amounts of pornographic and sexual content is uploaded on the website each day. The result? Millions of kids have access to porn on YouTube while Google rakes in the ad money.
  • YouTube depends on users to flag and report inappropriate content, not their own employees. In fact, when users see the bad stuff, they’ve got to watch it and then go through a rigorous process to report it for removal.
  • Even the YouTube Restricted mode can include inappropriate videos because uploaders often label their content with innocent terms to get past the YouTube filters. And guess what, it’s easy for kids to toggle off the Restricted Mode and then turn it back on again! (There’s no way parents can add a passcode to keep the Restricted Mode on.)
  • YouTube often keeps flagged videos up because they are generating millions of views and profits for Google.
  • Inappropriate ads often precede innocent videos. YouTube–can you do something about that to help keep kids safe?
  • YouTube pops up suggested videos which can be extremely inappropriate for kids! And if a curious kid clicks on one, YouTube suggests even more!

Find out more about what you can do to encourage YouTube to enforce their own Terms of Use and keep kids safe. Click here to take action.

7. Anime cartoons “trick” kids into a world of porn

Anime is a style of Japanese animation easily distinguished by characters with large round eyes, brilliant colors, extraordinary hairstyles and a unique sense of fashion. That in itself is not pornographic. What’s difficult for many kids to distinguish is when anime crosses the line from innocent children’s cartoons to something much more sinister.

In truth, most anime is not created for children. Anime themes run the gamut from action, sci-fi, romance, erotica, to extreme sexual fetishes. Hentai is a genre of anime that literally translates to pervert. It contains some of the most violent pornography made today.

When pornography is created through animation there are no limits placed on the cartoonist’s imagination. They can make sex scenes of fetishes that would be impossible in porn shots with real actors.

Even anime created for younger audiences often presents young women and teens in provocative clothing, heavily accentuating their exaggerated female anatomy. Kids don’t need to be exposed to the hard core Hentai to find themselves lured into a fantasy world they find difficult to escape. One reader in recovery from an anime porn addiction related that she would have been too embarrassed to watch real porn. However, she was quickly pulled in to watching cartoon porn, because it didn’t seem real. Unfortunately for her, anime porn was still as addicting.

The innocent looking and childlike features of anime characters are alluring; but depending on the genre can also be extremely deceptive. This is another example of the cardboard butterfly phenomenon. When it comes to anime, it’s difficult to keep kids safe from rampant sexual objectification and even pornography.

8. Minecraft Skinseed app with live chat

Skinseed is a popular app with kids who play Minecraft. It allows them to create different “skins” for the characters they create. Sounds fun until you realize that Skinseed app also includes a live chat function. Yep, other users can chat with your kids via this app!

Recently a Protect Young Minds reader discovered that her son was chatting with someone on Skinseed who had all of the markings of a child predator. Even though she had tirelessly educated her son about online dangers and warned him not to give out personal information, there it was in the messages they were sending back and forth. Her son’s school, his age, etc. etc.

Kids are just so trusting. And they are often distracted as they play or create, and predators are expert at nurturing online relationships and patiently, methodically, extracting bits of personal information. Apps with live chat make it difficult for parents to keep kids safe from predators.

9. Virtual Reality Pushes Porn

The bad news about VR (virtual reality) technology is that more than half of all content created for VR is porn. And it’s making a lot of money for the porn industry. Luxora Leader reports:

keep kids safe

“Industry experts estimate that more than 50% of all VR content is porn-related and that adult content is a major driver of hardware sales… The VR porn market saw an estimated $93 million in revenue for 2017 and could reach $1.4 billion by 2025.”

For the porn industry, which has been negatively impacted by the abundance of free porn on the internet, VR is a cash cow, bringing back welcome revenues to porn production companies.

Can kids get access to VR porn? This is the bad news mixed with the good news. The three major manufacturers of hardware, Samsung, Sony and Facebook-owned Oculus, are blocking porn apps from their online stores.

“While apps aren’t required for viewing porn, they provide a user-friendly interface that allows consumers to access and view videos without having to manually download each new movie.”

While these workarounds might discourage some, for others it’s just one more technical challenge to overcome. It’s a no brainer that some kids will find ways to consume porn via VR.

Is it possible to keep kids safe?

There’s no doubt about it, raising kids in the digital reality of 2018 isn’t a walk in the park. But at Protect Young Minds we advocate that knowledge is power. When parents really know the what dangers kids have to overcome they CAN make a plan to keep kids safe!

Remember this simple formula

    1. Filter and monitor the areas under your control.
    2. Help your kid install an internal filter so they CAN protect themselves in the areas you can’t control.
    3. Continue to have open and ongoing conversations about pornography, sextortion, and other dangers found in media
    Porn-proofing today's young kids“Talking to your children about porn doesn’t have to be embarrassing and awkward. We used this book with our 13, 9, 7, and 5 year old children to teach them about the dangers of pornography. It was a great experience. . …Highly recommend!

    In other words, you may not be able to prevent all pornography exposure, but you can keep kids safe by minimizing the negative impacts of being exposed.

Get Your FREE Quick Start Guide Now!

If the thought of talking to your child about the topic of pornography seems scary or awkward, don’t worry! Protect Young Minds is here to help you every step of the way. If you are new to our website, download our FREE Quick-Start Guide for Proactive Parents.

Get answers to these important questions:

  • Why are so many good kids getting pulled into pornography?
  • How can parents get more comfortable talking to their kids?
  • What are the benefits to tackling this subject early?
  • What EXACTLY do your kids need to know to stay safe from pornography in every situation?

Learn all this and more in The Quick Start Guide for Proactive Parents. Get your FREE copy by clicking on the image below:

Kristen Jenson
Kristen A. Jenson is the founder of Protect Young Minds and author of Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today's Young Kids. Kristen enjoys speaking, writing and anything else that will help empower kids to reject pornography. Kristen earned a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, and a master’s degree in Organizational Communication. Kristen currently lives with her husband in Washington State, where she enjoys growing a vegetable garden, watching Masterpiece Theater, and taking long walks with friends who tolerate her incessant talking about you know what. Above all else, her husband and three children are her greatest treasures.
Marilyn Evans
Marilyn Evans lives east of Toronto with her husband and five sons. Concerned with the ease of access to online pornography, she began searching for ways to address this subject with her own children. Frustrated with the lack of resources and information available to parents at the time she began speaking out about the harms of porn anyone who would listen. After a concerted but somewhat futile effort to gain the attention of her school board Marilyn felt her voice would be better served in the blogosphere. Over the past two years she has written regular articles for Parents Aware, as well as guest posting for Strength to Fight, and recently published an opinion article in Education Canada. She is thrilled to add her voice to the community at Protect Young Minds.
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