By age fifteen, your teenager has probably seen pornography, say social science researchers. You may be one of the parents who has walked in on your teen looking at pornography. However, many of today’s kids and teens are tech savvy enough to hide their pornography usage from their parents. If you believe your teen might have started viewing pornography, here are three red flags to watch for.
A sudden desire for privacy when using technology
If your teen starts to balk at long-established family tech rules, like keeping computers in public spaces or turning off the internet when no adults are home, don’t chalk it up to normal teenage envelope-pushing. Few (if any) teens will view pornography out in the open– darkness and secrecy are pornography’s preferred environment. So, if your teen wants excessive alone time, especially with electronics, ask yourself what he/she can’t do in the open.
Loss of interest in other activities
It’s normal to be excited about a new video game or television show, but if your teen starts neglecting school work, ditching sports practice, and avoiding friends so he or she can spend time online, get worried. Pornography is highly addictive, and it’s all too easy for teens to be sucked in. Pornography use is also linked to depression, which is also characterized by dropping favorite hobbies and pastimes. Either way, apathy in teenagers is a red flag.
Internet history has been deleted
You may not know how to delete your internet browser history, but your teen almost certainly does. And if he doesn’t, a Google search will inform him within seconds. You won’t get a notification that your browser history has been deleted, so watch for an unusually short browser history or the absence of sites you know you visited recently. Consider using a parental support system, like Clean Router, that records the sites visited on your internet network even if the browser history is deleted or incognito browsers are used.
Some families periodically delete their browser history as part of their computer maintenance. If so, consider a family rule that only a parent is allowed to delete browser history. As a parent, you need to know where your kids go online, just like you need to know where they spend their time offline.
Of course, the best way to know if your teen is viewing pornography is to ask. But too many parents don’t ask, because their teen is such a “good kid,” that he or she would never look at pornography. This fallacy has left too many “good kids” vulnerable! Gone are the days when teens had to go looking for pornography; now, pornography goes looking for kids. Their targets are the “good kids,” whose parents trust in their kids’ goodness to protect them. Parenting in the digital age requires carefully monitoring kids and teens online, watching for red flags, and maintaining an open, continuous dialogue about pornography and internet safety.
Do you know where your kids go online?