Keep Kids Safe: 8 Ways Adult Content and Predators Are Targeting Kids

KRISTEN JENSON on August 17, 2018

The truth is, every device that connects kids to the internet also connects kids to porn. It’s that simple —and it’s that infuriating! Keeping our kids safe in the digital age means staying one-step ahead of the trends and knowing exactly what we’re up against.

Here we will expose 8 major culprits that should be on every parent’s current radar:

 

1. Apps that let adult content slip past parental controls

Most kids today are growing up with devices 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!”

No matter at what age your kids get a device, 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!

Chris McKenna shared how easy it is for kids to find. Even the Holy Bible app can lead to porn! That’s because most apps also come with a built-in search engine. If your kids have any live chat features on their device though any app, they could be sent inappropriate links 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!

Update: With Mobicip's upcoming update, parents will be able to block such apps that attempt to bypass traditional parental controls. Mobicip goes a step ahead than other parental control tools by allowing parents to preemptively block inappropriate apps by searching on the Appstore or Playstore, even before their kids can download them. When kids try to install an app already blocked by their parents through Mobicip, it will simply disappear on iOS devices or display a custom block-screen on Android devices! 

 

2. Xbox, PlayStation, bots and sextortion

Sextortion is a major threat to online safety for kids and gaming systems are a breeding ground for predators. Police in the UK report getting 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. 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 this year — 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  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. School library databases push porn to students

Most parents trust that their kids’ schools will filter out inappropriate internet content. 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.

EBSCO promises “fast access to curriculum-appropriate content,” but 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 while 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 the school principal about their library databases. Continue to talk with your kids about the harms of pornography–no matter where they find it.

 

4. Adult content won’t disappear from Snapchat —your teen’s favorite social app

It’s no secret that 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. However, when you swipe to the “Discovery” section, you will find just the opposite.

Snapchat’s Discovery is really an advertising section posing as a news feed. You’ll find snippets from Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Buzzfeed, Self and more that contain 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. It’s difficult for curious minds not to get lured in. You can imagine what images might go with these headlines!

Warning: Predators know how popular Snapchat 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.

A 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.

Update: With Mobicip's upcoming update, parents will be able to block dangerous and addictive social media and gaming apps, and also regulate overall screen time Parents can block inappropriate apps for their kids like Snapchat, Kik, Tinder, Yubo, & Musical.ly among others. Addictive games like Minecraft, Fortnite, Clash of Clans & Pokemon Go can also be blocked permanently. If parents do not want to block apps, games and social media for older teens, they can use Mobicip's screen time feature to schedule responsible use of digital devices. Mobicip's screen time feature locks the device and renders it useless during the daily or weekly schedule set by parents.

 

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

YouTube has been forced to start cleaning up their act on their popular YouTube Kids app, but this profitable site (with over a billion users!) is still pushing inappropriate content to our kids. That’s why YouTube remains on the Dirty Dozen list created by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.

Here’s are some problems you can expect to find 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.

Update: With Mobicip's upcoming update, parents will be able to supervise all the video content that their children view on popular apps and streaming services. This feature can help parents decide the appropriateness of a certain video sharing platform. As always, Mobicip's robust dynamic filtering ensures that all content viewed through a browser (even YouTube videos on the website) is filtered with extreme care. 

 

6. Anime cartoons “trick” kids into a world of adult content

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 pervertIt 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 just 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.

Update: With Mobicip's upcoming update, parents will be able to supervise all the video content that their children view on popular apps and streaming services. This feature can help parents decide the appropriateness of a certain video sharing platform. As always, Mobicip's robust dynamic filtering ensures that all content viewed through a browser (even YouTube videos on the website) is filtered with extreme care. 

 

7. 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. Meaning, 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.

Kids are just so trusting. And they are often distracted as they play or create, and predators are experts 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.

Update: With Mobicip's upcoming update, parents will be able to block apps. Parents on the lookout for inappropriate apps with secret live-chat features can block them instantly. Parents can even block such apps before their kids download them; Mobicip allows parents to search for apps on the Appstore or Playstore and block them in advance. When kids try to install a previously-blocked app, it will simply disappear on iOS devices or display a block screen on Android devices.

 

8. 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 adult industry. Luxora Leader reports:

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?

Raising kids in this digital age is not an easy task. But at Protect Young Minds we advocate that knowledge is power. When parents are educated about what dangers kids are experiencing, 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 child 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.

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

Update: "Mobicip is designed for the modern multi-device family, and its range of supported platforms is impressive" - PCMag. With its latest update, Mobicip will allow parents to schedule screen time, block apps & games, track their child's location instantly, filter and regulate internet access, block websites, supervise videos viewed by their kids, & monitor all the above through an intuitive dashboard on the go 24x7!

 

 

Writing Credit: Kristen A. Jenson is the founder of ProtectYoungMinds.org, a website dedicated to helping parents empower their kids to reject pornography. Kristen is a frequent speaker and guest on podcasts, webinars and radio broadcasts, and is a leader in the Prevention Task Force of the National Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation. A mother of two daughters, and a son who is waiting for her in heaven, she lives with her husband in the beautiful state of Washington.

 

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