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Has it happened to you? Have you been online browsing, perhaps doing research, and you mistype a URL (you thought you had the correct website) and suddenly, up pops an adult site, which you have no desire to see. Perhaps it gets worse, and you get more and more and more…and you effectively lose control of your machine until you reboot. Annoying at best…and it could be worse…perhaps you had to reboot and you lost important work.
Has this happened to your child while doing homework? Nine out of ten children between the ages of 8 and 16 have been exposed to online pornography, and most of the time it happened by accident while they were doing work for school. How bad is that?
The average age of first internet exposure to pornography is 11 years old. Last year 28% of all youth Internet users reported unwanted exposure to online pornography.
In 2006, three years ago, US revenue from Internet pornography was $2.8B. That is a lot of pornography online. There are over 80,000,000 web pages with pornographic images and there are new sites appearing daily.
It is not just the accidental views that create a problem, and it is not just a problem for children.
10% of adults admit to Internet sexual addiction. 47% of families say that pornography is an issue in their homes. Two thirds of divorce lawyers say that excessive interest in online pornography played a significant role in divorces.
These are not problems that we are helpless to prevent or to protect ourselves against. We have greater choice than internet or no internet. We have the ability to take charge and to bring ourselves a G-Rated internet experience.
There are three primary mechanisms for obtaining a G-Rated internet: physical, legal and mechanical.
The physical solution is simply to ensure that computer usage takes place in a public location. Keep computers in family areas at home and not in private rooms. Use your computer where others can see, at least peripherally what you are doing. This does not prevent the accidental stumbling on of unwanted sites, but it helps to prevent the temptation to “just take a quick peak” at some questionable site. It keeps children from playing where they should not.
The legal solution is to diligently report unwanted sites and online experiences. Report them to your ISP. Report them to the local authorities. Most police organizations and certainly the FBI diligently track and prosecute those who abuse the internet by forcing unwanted adult content down our throats.
The mechanical approach is not really mechanical at all…it involves using software solutions to prevent the unwanted content, the pornography, from appearing. There are many solutions which monitor chat, text messages, email, etc. These can detect and even block inappropriate online conversations, alert parents or other adults to potentially hazardous online situations and help to prevent long term damage to reputations.
Detecting inappropriate images is more complex. There are not many solutions out there, fewer than fifteen, and mostly they don’t really work all that well. There are two fundamental problems:
1) True image analysis is very complex and requires substantial compute power, more than your PC or laptop;
2) Sites often have dynamic content so what a site that was fine one day may be inappropriate the next.
Most solutions rely on URL name white and black lists to keep “bad” sites from showing up. These can certainly help, but they cannot address the dynamic content problem, and new sites are coming along so often that the black and white lists are always out of date. Some products claim to do true image analysis based on skin tones and colors entirely on your laptop or desktop. True, accurate image analysis is complex and requires significant compute power as well as continual tuning and updating. The average laptop or desktop cannot provide compute power to execute true and accurate image analysis.
You can take control of your internet experience. Using tools like those mentioned here, or which have similar capabilities, can provide you with a G-Rated internet experience. When the tools fail, report those failures to the vendors, and report the sites to your ISP and to the authorities. Use common sense when using and placing your computer. By combining these three approaches, you can go back to have enjoyable internet experiences despite the proliferation of unwanted adult content and pornography online.
Launched in 2009 in cooperation with Milabra and based on their proprietary analytic technology, Online Chaperone believes that families have the absolute right to have a G-Rated internet experience in their homes, that they have the right to know with certainty that no one in the family need to be exposed to unwanted images, adult content or pornography and that the Internet is intended to be fun, safe and clean, and that it should encourage learning and socializing without exposing innocent eyes to unwelcome pictures. Online Chaperone offers URL, image and text analysis products.