6 ways to shield your tween from porn

Get ahead of your child’s access to porn and prevent them from suffering from misinformation now!

Kids-6-ways-to-shield-your-tween-from-porn

There is a growing prevalence of pornography amongst our young’uns – a staggering 91 per cent of secondary school boys and 35 per cent of secondary school girls have been exposed to adult material.

Of those numbers, more than half of the boys intentionally searched for it on the net, while close to half of the girls surveyed stumbled on it. More distressingly, they are getting exposed at a younger age too — 48 per cent of boys during their upper primary years, 67 per cent of girls in lower secondary.

These statistics support the need to start educating your child about sex early. Chong Ee Jay, manager at Touch Cyber Wellness — the non-profit group behind the survey — says, “Have quality conversations to talk about dressing, sex appeal and the ‘birds and the bees’. It is often a taboo topic but we need to start talking about it, or else children would take reference from the media, friends and online personalities!”

Hershey Regaya, programme manager at Family Life Society, agrees, adding, “Parents should seriously take the role of being the primary sexual educator to their children.”

Both Chong and Regaya share their takes on how you can get ahead of your tweens surfing habits to steer them from the unsavoury, and shield them from sexual miseducation online:

1) Use teachable moments to spark conversations

It can be really awkward to start talking about “the birds and the bees” out of the blue.

Regaya says to use suitable newspaper articles or stories on the evening news to get the ball rolling: Remember to keep an open mind and allow room for an honest discussion and make sure you are really hearing the views and perspectives of your child.

Chong also reminds you to be confident in engaging them in a frank discussion about sex and sexuality, avoid the appearance of being shy or sheepish.

“Ensure they keep well within sight when they are surfing the web and step in once you see them viewing explicit material — stop and explain why it’s unsuitable.”

2) Teach them how to navigate the web

When should you expose your child to the Internet? “As early as you can manage but no later than school exposure,” said Chong.

As it is impossible to continuously prevent your little one from being exposed to explicit material online, surf the web WITH them or at least be nearby — within visual distance — when your children are using the web. Chong adds, “If you see them stumble onto explicit material — it can be provocative adverts with sexual innuendos or their friends sharing inappropriate content on social media — step in immediately and stop the viewing and explain why the content is not suitable.”

3) Web filters should help too

Ask your internet service provider about any web-filtering features. Chong notes that these are often value-added services (thus might cost parents more) that will help you keep a watchful eye in the long run.

Otherwise, third party software like anti-virus and internet security applications can block access to unsavoury web content too.

Is your tween’s “friend” asking them to GNOC or TDTM? Click more to find out what that means…


Kids-6-ways-to-shield-your-tween-from-porn2

4) Be conversant in net-speak

Learning the lingo, slang and abbreviations that your tween is using to communicate with their peers. Regaya shares a few examples:

· Sexting — the act of sending and receiving sexually-explicit images by text message.

· Snapchat — a smartphone application that allows your twen to share images, texts and videos lasting for a pre-determined amount of time with their peers before the image disappears; often used for sexting.

· GNOC — stands for Get Naked On Cam.

· TDTM — Talk Dirty To Me

· PRON — a deliberate misspelling of porn.

· NIFOC — Naked In Front Of Camera.

· POS — Parents Over Shoulder.

Once you spot these terms being used, it is vital to talk to your child about what has transpired. Be mindful not to sound judgemental or condemn their actions outright.

Choose to focus on what other actions can be taken to remedy the situation — decide if you need to lodge a police report. If you are at your wits’ end about dealing with it, a visit to a counsellor should help.

5) Curb (or observe) their mobile phone usage

Touch Cyber Wellness’s survey showed that 88 per cent of boys and 73 per cent of girls gained access to porn on their personal mobile devices. So if you really have to purchase a mobile phone for your child, skip the smartphone.

Chong says, “This will help emphasise the primary functions of having a mobile phone — for communication and not entertainment.” It is also important to choose the right mobile plan — Singtel, StarHub and M1 all offer a SIM-only plan which allows you greater convenience in choosing the amount of data that comes with the phone line.

There’s also the trusty pre-paid lines that can prevent overindulgent surfing while on the go. Switch on the security features on kiddo’s mobile phone — built-in parental controls can restrict the time, website and applications they spend time on. Also, ensure that your tween updates you with their new passcodes whenever they change it.

Checking their phone and your credit-card bills (especially if they have supplementary cards) are good ways to keep an eye on their activities — most times, purchases of apps and other mobile services should show up there.

“Besides keeping yourself updated about technology, knowing their lingo is crucial in knowing when you NEED to step in.”

6) Practise (continued) vigilance

Your vigilance is the best bet against junior’s continued exposure (or not) to explicit material.

While you can consider installing web-filters, Regaya says that no filter is 100 per cent effective. Being resourceful and savvy individuals, your kids are always going to circumvent the filters. Thus, keeping yourself updated with changes in technology, social media and your tween’s computer or gadget usage is critical.

Chong expresses, “It is part and parcel of parenting to stay connected with the latest social issues so you can share good quality conversations and discussions with your children.”

Chong Ee Jay is a manager at Touch Cyber Wellness, a non-profit spreading awareness behind new media literacy and cyber wellness. Hershey Regaya is the programme manager at Family Life Society, a non-profit charity which conducts sexual education programme My Child is Made for More.

Photo: iStock

Giving the “sex talk” – what to say and when

Teaching your tot to trust and listen

Mean Girls: How to handle girl bullies