The Internet's Dark Side
The Internet's Dark Side is very ugly. Unfortunately, most people seem to think Internet pornography is just a collection of Playboy-like naked women or "pin-up girls." This is not true, but it is difficult to convey what is really out there. Of course, what your child can see on the real Dark Side is not censored.
Many parents believe the "bad" hardcore pornography requires a credit card to obtain, and thus children are not likely to get there. Not true. While all porn sites do invite you to use a credit card to get deeper into that site, many of them have numerous free high-detail "sample" images.
Parents often have a rose-colored view of what their kids may or may not do. In one sense, that's good kids need to know there is someone who will err in the direction of trust rather than mistrust. But don't let that trust lull you into complacency. A teenager's hormone-fueled curiosity is an extremely powerful force; you should not underestimate its power to draw your "good kid." Many good parents never imagined this could be a problem in their home yet it was.
Is Playboy really that bad?
What about soft core porn? There are those who say that since God created the female body as a thing of beauty, there is no problem letting children see images from softcore sites. In reality, any pornographic portrayal of women is degrading and dangerous. Pornography is invasive and progressive. By invasive, I mean that for a boy brimming with hormones, pornographic images take hold of his imagination and won't let go. Pornography is progressive in that excitement turns to boredom after a while, and the viewer is drawn into harder and harder core material. Eventually, a boy gets bored with seeing "normal" things that a man and woman can do together, and excitement comes from seeing deviant sexual/violent behavior with people, animals and objects. It's all "out there," waiting for curious souls to click on readily available hyperlinks.
The Internet never sleeps
The Internet's Dark Side is not a passive danger. Pornographers have many tools in their arsenal to draw young teenagers into their world, intending to hook them for life. They send out thousands of speculative "spam" e-mail messages containing inviting Web hyperlinks. If your child clicks on one of those e-mail message links, many browser windows are often spawned simultaneously, each one open to a different porn site. These windows often employ a concept called mouse trapping, meaning that if you try to close a window, it automatically re-opens to a different porn site. Also, if you respond to such e-mail messages with an "unsubscribe" directive, your e-mail address is sold on a premium "active" list, which will spark much more of the pornographic e-mail spam. Porn sites also sell advertising space to other porn sites, so one page can lead to another and another.
What makes home Internet access so dangerous (as compared to the public library, for example) is the combination of privacy and opportunity. All families leave older children home alone at times, and many kids will find the temptation to explore the Internet's Dark Side irresistible.
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