The monster behind every digital device!
I now write about a topic that is often taboo. On numerous occasions I have started a blog post with the plan to address the topic, however, have often stepped back because of its inherit danger and wicked and deceitful shroud. In fact, I think this post may present a risk, however, I am adamant the issue must be addressed.
The issue is one we know about, yet, rarely discuss and a matter of high importance, however, more often than not is low on agenda. The problem is forever present and is continually awaiting its victim. In fact, the danger is expanding at a phenomenal rate and it behaves like a cancerous disease. Young children can easily fall victim to its ways and teens may be allured by its poison. Unfortunately, adults avoid having to deal with the online monster because of their own lack of awareness or deep seeded parental fears. It is essential that we discuss the issue of Pornography. It can be stumbled upon and more easily found that one may think and I'm not talking about rude images, I refer to explicit images of the most revealing nature.
If SafeSearch is not enabled on Google a basic search of images can reveal explicit results. When basic and innocent terms like "three" are searched in Google Images the results include rude images. The photos may be considered artistic, however, many may argue the nude images are indeed explicit. Typing the word "wet" and add certain suffixes can produce absolutely shocking results. If SafeSearch is enabled some but not all of the images are available. In fact, the worst image will still remain. This basic Google experiment demonstrates how easily inappropriate content can be found.
My test highlights the need for internet filtering within every home. If robust filtering is not enabled within the home environment children are left vulnerable and can stumble across pornography. Schools have established extreme measures to protect children and it is essential that the parent community join in partnership with schools to create a constant and consistent level of security and care. While young children may accidentally discover inappropriate content older children are more street wise and may be more deliberate in their actions and search for words with which you or I are not familiar. Providing History, Cookies and Cache are cleared there is little that can be done to view online activity. Internet security must be enforced and all online activity monitored to provide a reliable system of protection.
Google offers various services.
Most are familiar with 'Web' and 'Image' searches and the ability to search 'Videos' is made extremely convenient within the tab menu. Simply typing in sex related terms can reveal a host of videos. One may think that the material is accessible only through the use of a credit card and that age restrictions will prevent access. This, however, cannot be further from the truth because the material is freely available and is completely searchable. Regardless of time, location or age, children can access the synopsis and details about videos, including video length. Red---- and ----hub are two free services that are open to all ages and the entire public. A post from Northside Christian College earlier this year alerted me of the pornographic websites that are popular among teens.
One might argue that access to pornography has been created by 1:1 technology. Regardless of the introduction of electronic devices by schools, children can access material from any of their personal electronic devices. The iPod Touch that was given as a Christmas present or the Android Tablet that was provided as a birthday present both provide the same danger. The Sony Play Station, Apple TV, XBox, Smart Television and Smart Phone all present the same inherit dangers. The home computer that has been available for use throughout the years has provided the same potential risk. Schools that have implemented one to one technology have exposed the need for families to enable web filtering. Colleges have revealed the need for a proactive approach in protecting children from accessing inappropriate content and material.
Many, if not all schools have established exceptional web filtering that blocks inappropriate material from being found. Nambour Christian College uses CheckPoint, the world leader in online security and protection. Often when students leave the school grounds there is insufficient protection available. There are various services that can be used such as Net Nanny, Norton Family, K9 and Open DNS. Often these services can be circumnavigated and more robust filtering methods need to be employed. CyberSafe247 is a hardware option that allows customised filtering for individual family members and guests. In addition to software and hardware strategies families must also demonstrate safe and responsible practice by monitoring activity and enforcing internet use within open spaces. Online activity within the bedroom can encourage internet exploration and should be avoided at all costs.
According to research, people may demonstrate certain characteristics when using the Internet to conduct inappropriate activity. Six signs include;
- Change in character, sense of depression or mood swings.
- Isolation from family and friends.
- Having trouble completing tasks at work or home.
- Feeling a sense of euphoria while involved in Internet activities.
- Feeling guilty or defensive about Internet use.
- Losing track of time spent online.
The majority of parents do not monitor the online activity of their children and most families do not have web filtering enabled. Unless deliberate action is taken to educate children in appropriate use of technology and conducting safe research and online exploration then children are left vulnerable. Exposure to explicit content can be accidental and intentional.
With iOS7 there are many new features. Some of the new elements feature within Safari and Restrictions. Parents can create their own Whitelist and determine what sites are appropriate and inappropriate. Apple have selected a number of sites that are suitable for children including Disney, Discovery Kids, Scholastic and National Geographic - Kids. Websites can be added to the list. Websites can also be added to create your own Blacklist by selecting 'Limit Adult Content'. Adding specific sites that are not allowed will make the designated sites completely inaccessible. Developing your own list of websites can be a suitable means of controlling inappropriate online activity on an iPad.
I have fallen victim to pornography on several occasions. Within my blogging account I am able to view statistics and information about the audience that have viewed my posts. The data is very informative and I can even view the source of internet traffic. Twice the source was from a website that unbeknown to me was pornographic. The programmers of the site must have written a script that skimmed Blogger accounts to leave a trace that their site had viewed various posts. Interested in seeing who had visited my page I 'clicked' an unknown link and it lead me down a dangerous path. Web designers can be conniving and deceitful and as I discovered I fell into their trap. Sometimes web developers can use typo-squatting as a means of capturing unwary individuals.
Christian character and conduct will terminate inappropriate online activity. "Fear of the Lord" (Duet 10:12) and desire to meditate on "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable" (Phil 4:8) will ensure responsible use of technology. Respect for others and thyself is essential and can contribute enormously to appropriate conduct. I encourage every parent and adult to be vigilant and establish a system and strategy that can protect all family members against the monster behind every digital device.