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The internet is a wonderful learning tool that gives children and adults an opportunity to access a virtually infinite amount of information which can be used for productive and educational endeavors. It is, however, a double-edged sword, because it can also open Pandora’s box of harmful materials that can be detrimental to the emotional and developmental wellbeing of young people.

Accessing pornography and doing other inappropriate activities online can be very damaging, so make sure to protect your children by keeping a close eye on their activities and by empowering them to make the right choices. In this article, we will discuss some helpful tips on how you can do this.

Install filters – Be aware of the many different ways your kids can access pornography in your home, whether accidentally or deliberately. Do some research about the latest and best-reviewed filtering tools or software which you can install in your children’s computer to limit their internet access. Also install similar filters on smartphones and game consoles, which can also provide access to such materials from the internet. Consider getting a system with remote notification and management features, which will allow you to configure the system’s settings while you are not with your children or while you’re away from home.

Learn about the technologies – There’s no better way to learn about the technologies your children are using than by using these techs yourself. Is your child on Facebook or some other type of social networking site? Create an account and use it to “friend” your child. There should be no exceptions. Wherever your children are online, you should also be there in order to monitor their activities.

Keep the devices in common-use areas – Instead of setting up computers, smart televisions, or gaming consoles in your children’s rooms, keep the devices in places where all members of the family can access them. For instance, you can install them in the living room or in the recreation room. By removing the element of privacy, you can prevent your child from accessing pornography and other inappropriate material using those devices.

Be open to your children – Discuss with your children why you need to set up the restrictions. Being vague about the matter or appearing repressive could just send the wrong message to young people, which in turn may trigger more curiosity or rebellion. Make them understand that what you are doing is for their own good. Empower you children by being open to any question they might have.

Check regularly – Set a strategy for monitoring your children’s use of devices, apps, and social networking sites, and make sure to do it on a regular basis. Never do this surreptitiously or you could build distrust. Again, be open to your kids, and let them understand why the check and balance system should be in place.

Let your child know that porn exposure is dangerous – Pornographic material can send a dangerous message to children: that sex without responsibility is normal. Studies have shown a correlation between early exposure to pornography and sexual activity that leads to teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and sexual addiction. In an age-appropriate manner, discuss with your child about the dangers of porn.

Warn your children about social media use and texting – Nowadays, sexting and sending nude images online is a growing trend among teens and even among younger children. Not only can such activities cause embarrassment among the children involved, kids can also get into trouble with the law, or they could become victimized by sexual predators. Their images could also end up in the hands of those distributing child pornography. Talk with your children and emphasize the fact that anything sent over the internet will be around forever and can be shared for the whole world to see.

Talk to your children’s friends and parents – Lastly, keep in touch with your children’s friends and their parents so you can stay in the loop with what your children are doing and discussing online or with whom they are communicating. Also be aware of warning signs that could indicate something is wrong. If your child is cutting classes, skipping activities they used to love doing, has suddenly experienced a drop in grades, or is constantly depressed, and if you suspect that it has something to do with their online activities, have an earnest talk with your child or seek professional help immediately.