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Inappropriate Content

This article guides caregivers on how to deal with their children’s exposure to inappropriate content.

The Internet is full of opportunities for children and young people to see inappropriate content.  Everything from pornography to beheadings is prominent on a wide variety of websites and ready for viewing.  It can be difficult for parents and caregivers to monitor what children see, so it is important to understand what is out there, what can be done to prevent inappropriate content from seeping into your children’s Internet use (as much as possible), and what to do when/if something goes wrong.


Where can your child see or hear inappropriate content?

  • Online gaming chats such as Fortnite, Minecraft, Roblox, etc.
  • Video streaming sites such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, YouTube kids, etc.
  • Podcasts, Audible, Deezer, music, etc.
  • Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, etc.


Parental Controls and Inappropriate content

Along with communication, parental controls do exist and these can also help facilitate safe Internet use.  You can introduce parental software controls to a younger child with more ease than a teenager.  There is a wide range of parental control software to choose from and you should confirm that your parental control choice will allow you to set screen limits, filter content, block ads, and monitor your child’s online activities.

Once you set parental controls, check them from time to time (especially after software updates because they may reset your settings) to make sure that they are still in place.  Be careful about relying on parental controls 100% as children can learn how to disable the controls via Google research.


Privacy Settings and Inappropriate Content

Even with these options, parents should know that children can still find and accidentally happen upon inappropriate content.

  • One way to change this is to explain privacy settings to your child.
  • You can use the Internet effectively, even with strict privacy settings and restricted access from third parties.
  • Educate your child on how to use privacy settings.
  • On some websites such as YouTube, you can activate “safe search” so that your child will not be exposed to adult content.  (Or use YouTube Kids.)
  • Child safe browsers also exist.
  • Consider installing one on all Wi-Fi-enabled devices that your younger children use.

Even if your home has strict parental controls and privacy settings, your child may still see or hear inappropriate content away from home.  Other children or even adults may share or show your child something that you consider inappropriate.  Parents can counter these types of disclosures with honesty and open communication.


Checklist for Digital Parents

Communication is the most important way you can keep your children safe.

  • It is essential to explain to them your family’s digital rules and to keep lines of communication open.
  • Check in with your kids from time-to-time to make sure that they are not watching or have not accidentally seen something inappropriate online.
  • Let them know that if they do, they can always come to you to talk about it.
  • Try not to be too judgmental or angry should you find out that your children have been looking for sexual content.  This is natural and a teachable moment.
  • It is better that they feel comfortable to come and talk to you about it so that you can convey the information and morals that you feel comfortable conveying.
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Call to Action

Explain to your children why there are privacy settings and encourage them to talk to you if they heard or saw inappropriate content.

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