Sexually Explicit Material
Sexually explicit material, such as legal adult pornography and illegal child pornography, are readily available online. Consequently, many young people are learning about sex from the Internet, media, or their peers. According to developmental pediatrician Dr. Sharon Cooper, “The more often a person is exposed to potentially harmful materials, the more normal it seems and the more desensitized the person becomes.” Without the counsel of parents and guardians, children may develop flawed views and opinions of their self-image and sexuality, which could affect their development.
Other Inappropriate Content
In addition to sexual content, children may be exposed to materials which glorify risky and illegal behaviors, making teens think it is “cool” to copy these activities. For example, some sites offer text or video instructions on anything from picking locks to playing alcoholic drinking games to making bombs. Other sites encourage dangerous behaviors such as cutting, anorexia, and suicide and may even have tips about how to hide the behaviors from family and friends.
Children do not have to look hard to find inappropriate content; it is as easy as typing a word into the search bar on Google. Even blocking, filtering, and monitoring software can be overcome by a determined child. A child may also accidently click the wrong link or misspell a Web address and be led to websites with inappropriate content. That is why when it comes to dealing with inappropriate material, adult guidance and supervision are key.
Normalization of Sexual Harm
, NetSmartz® Workshop, (October 04, 2007).