You Caught Your Child Watching Inappropriate Content. Do’s and Don’ts
The World Wide Web is not all about fun, leisure, and education – it is as well full of content that is not appropriate for kids. Unless you follow your child on their every online step, it is almost for sure that sooner or later they will come across something unsuitable, forbidden or even shocking. That’s where two main issues come up: did the child come across some objectionable content accidentally or were they looking for it on purpose? And – how should parents react in each situation, what they should and shouldn’t do?
This article will teach you how to protect kids from inappropriate content on the Internet and how to block inappropriate content.
First of all, let’s figure out what an age-inappropriate/objectionable online content is. It may include materials or images that are inappropriate for the age or stage of development of a child and may shock, insult or upset them. Objectionable content is usually aimed at adults; it may also contain inaccurate or hoax information that may lead to a child’s dangerous or unlawful behavior. It is worth mentioning that each parent’s opinion of what is age-inappropriate for their kid is subjective and most surely will differ from their child’s opinion.
Inappropriate content may include:
- Pornographic materials – adult content that shouldn’t be viewed by minors, especially young kids;
- Materials that content swearing and may teach your child rude and insulting social behavior;
- Sites and materials, which may encourage crime, terrorism, racism, vandalism, eating disorders, self-harm or suicide. Each type of such content is dangerous in its own way and may lead to serious safety issues, criminal liability, as well as threaten your child’s health and life;
- Information and media materials (g., games, videos or images) that may show cruelty or violence targeted towards other people or animals and can give bad moral patterns or shock your kid;
- Gambling games or sites that should be avoided by all means;
- Unmoderated and anonymous chat rooms and messenger apps where supervision is impossible, and thus, a child may unknowingly talk to online fraudsters, predators or other criminals, may be enticed into sexting or become a victim of cyberbullying.
If you happen to catch your kid watching inappropriate materials, it’s crucial for you to try to hold your emotions under control, stay calm and analyze the situation. First of all, you should find out if your child came across the forbidden content accidentally or was viewing them intentionally, and act accordingly after.
It is surprising to which extend the World Wide Web keeps our children exposed to porn. According to a 2010 APA (American Psychological Association) report, as much as 12% of all websites contain pornography content, and 25% of all online search requests come for porn. These numbers are likely to have somewhat risen by 2017. It means that chances are high for your child to come across adult content on the Internet unintentionally. Just in one click kids might be exposed to videos and images that they neither physically nor cognitively or emotionally are prepared for. Such objectionable encounter may shock and upset a child; parents support and guidance would be what they need.
Unintentional viewing of inappropriate materials refers not only to pornography but also to many other things that kids don’t mean to look for on purpose. For example, they may come across brutal lexis or offensive racist comments on a random site they are viewing, or see scenes of violence in a new video game they are trying out. A caring parent’s task is to prevent their children from such situations, give them proper explanations and support.
If you noticed that your child came across inappropriate materials accidentally:
- First of all, to be sure it’s an accident you have to ask and analyze. Most probably, your child will look surprised, shocked or scared and will be able to prove they were not viewing the content on purpose;
- Don’t blame or scold your kid, stay calm and act maturely;
- Ask what exactly have they seen/read, suggest to give explanations if they have got any questions to ask;
- Contact a trained psychologist if your kid happened to see something that shocked them too much; show your support and care at all times.
Many children can’t withstand the temptation of watching pornographic content online. In such a way they try to learn more about the adult sexual life. Needless to say, porn can’t give children any realistic image of sexual relationships between men and women. All it provides is a biased body image, and way too explicit, possibly even violent, scenes. A good thing for parents to do is to start a frank and open discussion of sexual life beforehand. Many experts advise that the age of 9-10 years should be just fine; however, it may depend on each child individually.
If you get to know that your kid watches pornography materials repeatedly and on purpose:
- If you caught your child watching pornography intentionally, don’t make scenes, don’t yell and threaten to cut off the Internet wire and take away all kid’s devices. Taboos may only spark extra interest in the subject, and a child might continue watching videos secretly or elsewhere outside the home;
- Start an open discussion and try to find out what makes them want to view adult content;
- Suggest answering the questions and giving explanations if a kid needs
Finally, you may as well find out that your child has been watching objectionable content (for example, scenes of violence, cruelty or crime-related materials) on purpose. This problem may turn out to be even more severe than the two described above. What you have to do in such a situation is:
- Make a child explain why they were interested in viewing such kind of materials;
- Let them ask questions and give explanations regarding the content;
- Be open minded and be objective in your judgments;
- Consult a trained psychologist if you notice any wrong declinations in interests or behavior of your kid.
Whichever situations described here parents happen to face, they should remember that developing a strict set of rules of using the Web and mobile devices, supervising their kids’ online life, setting Internet filters and using a reliable parental monitoring app will help them out in preventing their children from viewing any age-inappropriate content.