What's out There?
There are a number of things on the internet not suitable for children. For example, it only takes a few minutes and a search engine for kids to find pornography. And while it is impossible to completely shield a child from sexual content, the open dialogue and supervision of parents and guardians is still key.
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 right guidance, children may develop flawed views and opinions of their self-image and sexuality.
In addition to sexually explicit materials, children may come across violent images or hate speech. There are also websites that encourage dangerous behaviors such as cutting, anorexia, and suicide.
Posting Inappropriate Content
Seeing inappropriate content is not the only concern. Older kids may join social media websites to share pictures and things they find interesting. Most of the thinks kids post are harmless. However, it is important to go over the things that are inappropriate, including:
- Hate speech
- Offensive language
- Threats of violence
- Underage drinking or drug use
There can be immediate and long-term consequences for posting inappropriate content online. Kids could:
- Damage their reputations.
- Be punished at school if what they post breaks school rules.
- Be charged with a crime if they are breaking a law.
- Have difficulty getting into college, getting a scholarship, or getting a job in the future.
 Normalization of Sexual Harm , NetSmartz® Workshop, (October 04, 2007).