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Adult Content and the Internet

We live in a world where movies, television, music videos and magazines not only provide us with hours of enjoyable entertainment but they can also expose us to countless images of sex and violence.

Supporting a Child/Youth

Access to websites and magazines with mature, adult content are readily available and are inappropriate and unsafe for viewing by an immature audience. As a child goes through adolescence parents need to make decisions about how much independence to allow their child. Based on your family beliefs and values and your child’s ability, you will need to decide what you are comfortable letting your child decide for themselves. This is especially true where the internet and web sites containing adult content are concerned.

Tips for Parents / Caregivers and Staff:

  • Set boundaries on discussions about sex and sexuality. For example, questions about sex can be asked of parents, health nurses or doctors but they are not a subject to be discussed in public areas or with people you do not know.
  • Physically locate all of the computers in your home (including laptops) in an area where they can be monitored. Make sure the computer screen is facing out into the room. This will enable you to monitor your child’s activities – which websites they are visiting, who they are “talking” to etc.
  • Web sites containing sexual content are often given internet names that are similar to the names of legitimate websites. Access to the content on these web sites can be blocked with the use of filters. Filters can be in the form of a system or a service. Although they can be beneficial, be aware that filters installed at a home or school will not block that material from being accessed somewhere else such as a library or internet café.
  • All internet browsers (e.g. Internet Explorer, Firefox) include a parental control program that helps parents monitor and set limits on the child’s use of the Internet.
  • Check the internet history on your computer on a regular basis to see which websites have been viewed by the users.
  • Limit the time an individual spends emailing or visiting social networking sites like Facebook, My Space, Twitter, etc.
  • If websites or printed material containing adult content are to be viewed by an individual, the person must have reached the “age of majority” for the area in which they live. In Ontario, the age of majority is 18 years old.
  • Stress the importance of doing this in a private place and not in a public space like a library or internet café. Give concrete examples of what is appropriate in a public space and what should be done in private. Make individuals aware of the consequences if this is not followed.

Supporting an Adult

As an adult who is using a computer, you will have access to adult content that may be a potential threat to your personal and /or financial safety. You may not recognize this threat.

One of the best ways to stay safe is to maintain an ongoing open dialogue about what you are doing on the internet with someone you trust. This could be a parent, other family member, a staff, a friend or a volunteer. Someone else may be able to point out safety concerns that you did not think of or were not aware of. Talk about where you are going on the internet – the websites, the chat rooms, the game sites that you are going to, the people you are chatting with and the types of conversations you are having, or anything that may seem strange to you.

Tips for Parents / Caregivers and Staff:

All of the tips included in the child / youth section are still relevant and important for those over the age of 18. However, you need to remember that the individual is an adult and has a right to make their own decisions on what they view on the computer. How you address the issues becomes one of making them aware of the issues and concerns (especially safety, financial and criminal impacts) and working together to ensure a safe experience on the internet.

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