Unwanted Online Adult Content and Pornography – We Can Take Control


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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.

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Why Pornography Should Be Introduced and Critiqued In Sex Education Programming At All School Levels

The phrase love that dare not speak it’s name was coined by Lord Alfred Douglas. It first appeared in his poem, “Two Loves,” printed (in the Chameleon) in 1896. It’s a reference to homosexual love, in Lord Alfred’s case, of Oscar Wilde, who was subsequently charged with gross indecency. Homosexuality was a criminal offense in England and just about everywhere else in the 19th century. Today, there is another sexual outlet not so much forbidden as not addressed in polite or other society – a new form of love the name of which sex educators dare not speak: pornography.

This is most unfortunate: a new study suggests that while parents may not be aware of the fact, pornography is the leading sex educator of the young. Alas, the porn industry has no interest in serving a sex education function and certainly does not do so, at least not in a positive, constructive or healthy fashion.

Porn is pervasive, particularly where it is most highly censored. China, for example, is the world’s leading consumer of porn. Jerry Ropelato, author of “Internet Pornography Statistics” at the research website Top Ten Reviews, notes that $3,075.64 is spent on pornography every second of every day. In this one-second period, 28,258 internet users are viewing pornography and 372 internet users are typing adult search terms into search engines. Two of the top twenty search terms are teen sex and teen porn. The pornography industry has larger revenues than Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo, Apple and Netflix combined. Data from 2006 reported worldwide pornography revenues at $97.06 billion.

Australian researchers David Corlett and Maree Crabbe filmed 140 interviews with young people in what was called “The Reality and Risk Research Project.” They discovered that teens are increasingly turning to the net for sex education. (Source: Denise Ryan, “Teachers urged to address porn factor,” The Australian Age, February 13, 2012.) Porn sex education exerts a destructive influence in the lives of the young. One of the investigators said, “Every young person we interviewed told us that pornography is a significant part of youth culture and particularly of young men’s lives.” She added, “Pornography has become harder, rougher, more hardcore.”

Porn, as you might expect, does not commonly offer instruction in matters relevant to conventional sex education (e.g., the nature of contraception, the prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, the value of intimacy, principles of effective relationships). On the contrary, what it inadvertently communicates to young men, according to “The Project” research group, is reckless, coercive and abusive treatment of women. There is an absence of realistic perspectives and a dearth of respectful treatment of sexual partners. In addition, sexual practices of an unsafe nature are commonplace. While informed adults may have the maturity to manage such depictions, teens with little or, more often, no sexual experience clearly do not.

Since parents usually cannot keep porn from being accessed one way or another or one time or other by their children, the more likely best strategy is to include porn awareness in sex ed instruction. This is the focus of efforts by “The Project” team. Several grants have provided the resources to prepare and test programs for use in training sex education teachers for varied school grade levels. While teachers need skills to address this issue, teens need exposure to effective critiques of pornography’s representations of gender and sex. Among the objectives of the Project team is to develop teaching materials that present diverse scenarios for classroom discussions that will enable young adults to distinguish between what they see depicted in porn and reality.

The overwhelming majority of parents believe their child has never seen pornography. However, a 2003 Australia Institute investigation citied in the Australian Age article cited above reported that 84 per cent of boys and 60 per cent of girls had access to sex sites on the internet. A 2006 Australian study of youths aged 13 to 16 found that 92 per cent of boys and 61 per cent of girls had been exposed to pornography online.

Of course, Republicans in this country might favor a simpler solution: Pass new laws banning pornography or otherwise make it nearly impossible for young people to gain access to it. Given the widespread availability of social media of all kinds in the wired culture of our age, a reliance on censorship does not seem promising (not to dwell on the consistency of such a Draconian tactic with that troublesome First Amendment in America). Good luck cutting off porn – shy of creating a police state. Better sex education is cheaper and quicker, more likely and better suited to personal liberties and sound education.

Everyone, including the young, needs a broad set of knowledge and critical thinking skills to reject a sexuality that eroticises degradation and violence, glorifies unrealistic body types (particularly large breasts and out-sized penises) and undermines relationship elements founded on respect, courtesy and the common decencies.

It is hard enough in the current climate of Right Wing evangelical Republican culture war wedge politics to gain acceptance for sex ed of any kind, let alone adding porn assessment to the mix. If a school board or individual educator in this country tried to address pornography, he or she would be cited by Santorum, Romney or Gingrich as an example of what’s wrong with Obamacare. Try dealing with this crisis only if willing to deal with a firestorm of controversy from the Right.

Yet, all evidence and the lessons from Prohibition and the Comstock era suggest that ignoring or trying to repress the pervasiveness of pornography as it affects youthful sexual expectations and behavior is pernicious and irresponsible.

In my view, we need to make clear as part of sex ed that porn has nothing to do with love. We dare not NOT speak its name – and dare NOT ignore the reality of pornography’s dreadful influence on the sexual miseducation of the young. If this upsets Republicans, well, that’s just too bad. If they had enjoyed better sex education, they might be more sensible about such things – and probably less interested in porn, as well.

Be weller than well, give ‘em hell and try always to look on the bright side of life.

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Teens and Pornography: Let’s Talk

Seriously, let’s talk. That wasn’t just meant to be a catchy title. It is time that we, as parents, start talking to our teenagers about their struggles with pornography. This problem is not going away; if anything, it will become more and more prevalent as the avenues for teenagers to view porn continue to expand. Teens are able to view porn through so many mediums that it is almost impossible to monitor everything. If a teenager wants to look at porn, they will likely find a way. The days where parents could lock down their teenager and completely block access to porn are slowly going away. Computer blocks? Many teens know how to bypass. Taking the computer away? What about all the phones and other devices with access to internet? You know…the ones that their friends have at school. What about all the kids out there who are willing to send your teenager pornographic texts? What about separate hard drives that you know nothing about? Parents are less able to police their teen’s access to porn than ever before. So what can parents do to help their teens who struggle with porn?

TALK ABOUT IT.

It is time that we lay everything on the table. It is time that we stop treating pornography addiction amongst teens as a secret sin that only a minority struggle with. The fact is that almost every teen will be exposed to pornography at some point. As parents, educators, counselors and pastors let’s stop tip-toeing around this issue as if we are still living in the 80’s when teens had to sneak to the corner store to try to catch a glimpse of the PLAYBOY magazines that were hidden behind the counter. This issue is no longer an isolated one. We must bring it out of the closet so that it can be dealt with in healthier ways. We must also stop dealing with pornography addiction in the same way we deal with a teenager who breaks curfew or who is caught in a lie. Pornography addiction is real and teenagers are a prime target to get hooked. They are curious about sex, underdeveloped emotionally, crave acceptance and attention and face unbelievable amounts of daily pressure they are ill-equipped to deal with. They almost all deal with shame on some level. A high percentage of them are extremely vulnerable to pornography addiction and are forced to deal with it in secret, which simply adds fuel to the fire. Handling pornography addiction by grounding your teen or taking away their cell phone for a week does nothing to address the real problem; that your teen is fighting a losing battle against a powerful enemy. Shaming them for it only feeds the animal. It is time we start coming alongside our teens in the fight for their hearts against the seductive and powerful forces of porn. It is time to stop punishing them and to start empowering them. I’m not talking about the teen that loves indulging in porn, sees nothing wrong with it and has no desire to stop. I am talking about the myriad of young men who escape into pornography, feel unbearable amounts of shame for it, are too frightened to tell anyone, and become caught up in a progressive web of addiction. These boys don’t need a good spanking…….they need parents who fearlessly go into the darkness with them. They need adults who face this battle realistically, knowing that their boys are going to fail as much as they succeed in the fight. These young men need counselors and mentors who will come alongside of them and help them find healthier ways to deal with the pressures and uncertainties of young adulthood. They need pastors and youth pastors who model intimacy with God so that these teens see that there is another way to handle life other than fantasy and escapism. They need adults who show them that the road of pornography is a path that promises so much but produces nothing for their lives except shame, poor relationships, and slavery to its demands. These teenagers need adults who are willing to talk with them about their desire to view porn.

So…let’s talk. Here are some tips for parents as they face this all-important issue:

• Be Proactive: Don’t wait for your teenager to come to you about pornography. It’s not enough to tell them you are there if they need to talk. Assume that they have had some kind of exposure to pornography and approach them. Be bold in confronting them about porn. The abundance of porn is no secret. Don’t bury your head in the sand and hope your teen is the exception. Be strong, sit him down, and talk to him maturely and with compassion.

• Be Prepared: Better acquaint yourself with the technology that gives your kids access to porn. Understand how they can get it, where they can store it, and the ways you can help them to control it. Also, do some research on the effects pornography addiction has on those who are caught up in it. There are many negative ramifications. It’s not just that pornography is lustful and, therefore, a sin. The dangers of porn are much more specific than that. Pornography addiction dehumanizes women and desensitizes men’s view of them; pornography is also a way to avoid genuine intimacy; reliance upon it can create huge problems when a man wants to be emotionally intimate with his girlfriend or spouse; pornography sets a man up for sexual problems later as normal marital sex, over the long term, cannot compete with the intensity and deviancy of porn. It sets up unrealistic expectations that only lead to dissatisfaction and the desire to act out again. This list is by no means exhaustive. The long-term effects of pornography addiction are a perfect example of the Enemy’s strategy of luring us in with promises of pleasure and then destroying us over a period of time. If you are going to march into battle with your teenager, make sure you are prepared.

• Be Patient: This is where many parents, especially Christian parents, falter. Many Christian parents still view pornography addiction as a behavior that must be continually punished rather than a serious issue that must be healed. Because of this perception, parents often dish out consequences and punishment when their teens fall “once again.” Dealing with pornography is uncomfortable and parents want the problem to go away quickly. They want their teenager to obey the rules and just “stop looking at it.” I wish it were always that easy. Pornography addiction is just that…an addiction. If we could simply snap our fingers and stop doing what we’re addicted to then there would be no need for any kind of rehabilitation programs or, for that matter, diets for those who can’t stop overeating. By the time that many teens realize that pornography is adversely affecting their lives they are already addicted. Parents must understand that this addiction will not go away immediately and that the teen is going to take steps both forward and back as they try to overcome the problem. Certainly parents need to work with a counselor in setting up household rules and boundaries that help to limit the behavior. However, the actual behavior is only a symptom of an underlying wound in the heart that must be healed. This is why parents need to approach the problem of pornography as it really is; a journey in which they come alongside their teen for better and for worse. If parents become impatient and start to resort, once again, to punishment as a way to handle the behavior the teenager simply begins the process of shameful hiding; the same process that led them down the road to addiction in the first place.

• Be Perseverant: Don’t give up on your teenager. Let them know that you will stick by their side through thick and through thin as they struggle against a powerful enemy. When you catch your teen viewing pornography AGAIN, show him compassion and strength rather than frustration and condemnation. Pornography addiction is real and it is vying for the hearts and souls of our young men. Be a warrior for your kids. When they are weak, lift them up with courage, resolve, and the encouragement to go on. Let them know that their problem with porn does not define their value; that they are your son and your love for them doesn’t fluxuate based on their when they are winning or when they are losing this battle. Continually help them to find the resources they need for the journey. When you find pornography in the home get rid of it and re-establish your defenses by adapting passwords, evaluating accountability software and parental controls. Consequences are also okay but the overriding theme must be understanding and love. Finally, be persistent in your prayers. This is a spiritual battle we are in. Intercede often for your sons and for your families. Lead your son to an intimate, ongoing relationship with God. The closer he walks with the Lord, the less he will want to turn to pornography when life gets difficult. Bottom line…….don’t give up and understand that your teen is not evil but simply in a fight for his life. Stay in the fight with him.

Parents, it is time to bring this issue out into the open. There is a dark power in secrecy, one that feeds the need to turn to pornography in order to lift one’s mood and escape the stresses of life. It’s time to take that weapon away from the Enemy. Let’s lift the curtain and trust that scripture is correct when it says that the truth sets us free. Let’s stop punishing and start communicating. We have fallen behind the Enemy in this war for the souls of our teens. He has infiltrated their lives and ensnared them with powerful shackles. He’s also done it by using sex and porn; subjects that many Christians see as taboo, awkward and try to avoid. In essence, Satan has assaulted our teens and used us to make the situation worse.

It is time to reverse this trend. It is time to thwart the Enemy’s schemes. And in regard to our teens and their struggles against pornography…it’s time to talk.

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Is a Pornography Addiction a Big Deal?

There are many wide ranging views on pornography, not to mention a pornography addiction. Some people view all pornography as an illness while others feel that it’s really nobody’s concern what you view in your own home. In order to meet the standard criteria set forth to qualify as an addiction, one would have to say that if the user can’t go without watching their pornography, there is a problem.

One of the biggest problems with ignoring a pornography addiction is that it can lead to more severe behaviors. It’s not that big of a step from the chronic use of porn to heightening the level of the high by heightening the seriousness of the pornography. This can lead to moving onto sadistic and child pornography and then into things like snuff films. All of these are highly illegal and can certainly be considered immoral even by those who support the use of adult pornography.

Many pornography addicts move toward sexual addiction. While it’s not true for all individuals who are thoroughly addicted to pornography, there is a link between escalating behaviors and escalating pornography preferences.

The chronic use of pornography is not just a men’s disease. There are plenty of women addicts who fly under the radar because they are women. Most people, even some professionals, have a strong gender bias when it comes to women and their use of pornography.

Regardless of where you stand on the issue itself, any behavior that interferes with normal relationships, family time, and work related issues is problematic. Many addicts choose to use the late night hours when the household is asleep before they delve into serious pornography. This allows them privacy. Privacy is the first step to hiding the frequency as well as the content of the pornography of choice.

It can be difficult to recognize the signs when you have a rather open mind on the issue. If you feel there is nothing wrong with watching the material, it may be much harder for you to be able to recognize the symptoms of an actual addiction.

Getting help for an addiction to pornography is vital. This is generally not an addiction that can be handled on one’s own because access is so incredibly easy. It may not seem like it, but to an addict of pornography even suggestive television can prompt urges. It is within everyone’s best interest that an addict receives intervention counseling as soon as possible. The loss of family, friends, and livelihood can depend on how early treatment is sought and accepted.

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