If you’ve just given your teenager a smartphone, laptop, gaming device, or iPod for Christmas, he or she is just a click away on multiple devices from finding pornography. For instance, 87 percent of university students polled have virtual sex mainly using webcam, Instant Messenger, and telephone. In addition, Covenant Eyes, a helpful site focused on protecting adults and kids from pornography, has several shocking statistics listed on their web site, including:
- Nine out of 10 boys and six out of 10 girls are exposed to pornography online before the age of 18.
- The first exposure to pornography among boys is 12 years old, on average.
- 83 percent of boys and 57 percent of girls are exposed to group sex online.
- 69 percent of boys and 55 percent of girls are exposed to same-sex intercourse online.
- 71 percent of teens have done something to hide their online activity from their parents.
- 28 percent of 16-17 year olds have unintentionally been exposed to pornography online.
- 20 percent of 16 year olds and 30 percent of 17 year olds have received a sext.
How well are you protecting your teenager from finding porn? While we likely will not stop them from ever finding porn online, there are several things any parent can do.
Would you pass this quiz?
Take this quiz to see how protected your teen is. While not every question may provide an answer that fits you exactly, choose the one closest to your reality.
- My teenager uses a smartphone in his room alone, with the door closed.
- A. Yes. I think he deserves his own privacy.
- B. Sometimes I let him as long as I know what he’s doing on the phone.
- C. No. I have a policy of no smartphone or computer use behind closed doors.
- I have filtering software installed on my teenager’s computer and/or smartphone.
- A. No, I do not have any software installed or filters set up.
- B. Yes. I have software that blocks adult websites when she is at home and on our Wifi network. When she leaves the house though, I’m unable to filter out websites.
- C. Yes. I have software installed for all devices at home and the software monitors what they do on their phones when outside of our home WiFi network.
- I regularly ask to look at my teenager’s phone to review search history, apps and social media usage.
- A. No. What he does on his phone is his business.
- B. When I remember to ask I just check his text messages and nothing else.
- C. Yes. I regularly ask to look at his phone and talk to him about what he’s been doing on his phone lately.
- I have adjusted my teenager’s smartphone settings so that it blocks adult content.
- A. No. I don’t even know how to do this.
- B. No. I want to learn how to do this though.
- C. Yes. And every device she uses (tablet, gaming console, etc) also has these settings in place.
- I have parental controls turned on for YouTube to block mature or adult content.
- A. No. I’m unaware of how to do this or I don’t think YouTube has content that is too mature for my teenager.
- B. I would like to know how to do this.
- C. Yes and I have his YouTube app connected to my Gmail account so that I can easily see what videos he’s recently watched.
- For every A answer, give yourself 1 point each.
- For every B answer, give yourself 3 points each.
- For every C answer, give yourself 5 points each.
5-10: Your teenager is not at all protected from finding online pornography. He has full access to the world of online pornography. You do not really have any precautions in place to protect him from viewing pornography. I recommend you start with some basic filtering software like Covenant Eyes.
11-20: Your teenager is somewhat protected from finding online pornography. She is likely pretty safe while at in your house, on your own WiFi network, but once she leaves the house you cannot monitor her internet usage. I recommend you consider some software to prevent finding online pornography outside of your home and start having regular discussion with her about what you see on her phone when you ask to look it.
21-25: Your teenager is well protected from finding online pornography. You have taken several wise precautions and are communicating with your teenager. I recommend you continue to be open and honest with your teenager. Ask hard questions. Display understanding and empathy, not judgment if he admits to finding a way to look at pornography.
The lesson to learn from this quiz, no matter your score, is that you must be involved in your teen’s device use. This cliche has been used over and over, but it rings true: you would never hand over the keys to your car to your teenager without first teaching him how to drive it properly and safely. So, don’t hand your teenager a phone if you don’t have the time to teach him or her how to use a smartphone properly and safely.
And it doesn’t stop there. You must also ensure that you’re aware of how your teen is using her smartphone. Keep communication flowing, ask good questions, and enforce boundaries. You will never regret asking your teenagers those hard questions about what they’re doing on the their phones.