10 Sneaky Ways Porn Will Target Your Kids in 2021

by Jan 5, 2021Prepare Kids to Reject Pornography

Porn targets kids even in the most trusted and mainstream places. Protecting children from it can seem like a game of whack-a-mole. That’s why our first post of the year always lists the sneaky ways the porn industry is targeting your innocent kids. 

In this post you’ll find how porn targets kids through…

  • explicit ads on apps made for kids,
  • deepfake technology,
  • the dark web,
  • erotic lit,
  • erotic podcasts,
  • porn spam on Google Drive,
  • social media such as TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram,
  • video games popular with kids,
  • an organized, massive porn industry and
  • porn sites masquerading as sexual wellness centers.

1. Porn targets kids through EXPLICIT ADS ON APPS MADE FOR KIDS

2019 was supposed to be a year of reckoning for online advertisers. The FTC gave big fines for tech companies who ignored COPPA, a federal law designed to protect children online. As a result, in 2020 both Apple and Google cracked down on ads in children’s games in their app stores and on YouTube. 

But their methods have been far from perfect. A recent report by Common Sense Media on kids’ media use found that inappropriate ads (including violence, sexuality, alcohol, or politics) were found in almost one in five YouTube videos targeted at kids.

Plus, smaller apps and websites still often fly under the enforcement radar. Free apps and game websites make their money by selling your child’s attention to advertisers. And not all of these advertisers are pushing kid-appropriate wares. 

Parents across the internet are seeing ads for explicit dating simulation games and other sexually-focused ads, even on websites recommended by teachers. With kids across the nation schooling from home, they are more likely to run across these inappropriate ads than ever.

Learn more: 

Take action to protect your kids:

  • Consider how developers are making money. If you didn’t have to pay for the app or website, your child is mostly likely being sold to advertisers with little regulation.
  • Don’t take a game’s word for it! Just because a website or app sounds educational doesn’t mean it is high quality or safe for kids. Check the app out yourself and be there when your child plays.
  • Look for apps and games from reputable publishers and pay for them. Great publishers of children’s apps avoid ads and give your child a more playful experience. Some high-quality children’s developers include Toca Boca, Sago Mini, Dr. Panda, and PBS.

2. Porn targets kids with DEEPFAKE TECHNOLOGY

Customized pornography is now more accessible than ever through AI-created “deepfakes.” Deepfakes are photo and video manipulations almost indistinguishable from reality

For the past few years, they could easily be created by almost anyone with a computer, some free software, and a large database of images. 

Now it’s even easier as websites that create deepfake porn are popping up across the internet. Users simply upload a photo to a chatbot and receive back an altered image where the person in the photo is now nude. This service is completely free and the images are automatically added to an online gallery. 

Now any photo, even a simple snapshot in school clothes, can be used to create pornography. Once created, a photo can be shared online and quickly spread. There’s no putting the genie back in the bottle: once the image is online, it’s impossible to eliminate. These deepfake nudes can haunt a person’s online presence for the rest of their life.

Learn more:

Take action to protect your kids:

  • Check social media privacy settings (for all members of the family). If the profile is public, your kids’ photos could be harvested to create child pornography.
  • Talk with your teens about the permanent nature of the internet. Photos shared online or even messaged to friends can easily be used by others to create fake pornography.

3. Porn targets kids on the DARK WEB

Open web, Deep Web, Dark Web? Confused yet? Yes, there are “several” webs out there! The Open Web is what most people use when they search on Google or another browser. 

The Deep Web holds information hidden behind security passwords such as your banking information.

But the Dark Web (or Dark Net) is the most deeply hidden part of the Internet. You need special encrypted software such as Tor to access it. And while not all activity on the Dark Web is illegal or abusive, some of it is: human trafficking, illegal drug and weapons sales, and malicious cyberattacks occur in this part of the anonymous Internet.

Learn more

Take action to protect your kids:

  • Have the conversation: 
    • Ask your kids what they already know and then build on that.
    • For kids, the main attraction to the Dark Web is the mystique associated with it. Kids may be excited about going into “hidden areas” of the Web anonymously. Take charge and educate your child about the real dangers such as child sex trafficking, sextortion, or other illegal activity. 
  • Supervise: 
    • Check all devices for the Tor software and delete any unknown browsers. 
    • If you know that your child has been using Tor to access the Dark Web, watch for any unusual mail or packages delivered to your home.

4. Porn targets kids through EROTIC LIT

Erotic lit is nothing new, but it should still be on every parents’ radar. It’s often a gateway to hardcore porn. In some ways, it can be more harmful as it allows the reader’s imagination to take over. They can picture themselves and someone they know in real life in these intimate situations and develop a fantasy relationship with someone they may have never even spoken to. Then when they see that person in real life, it’s uncomfortable. This can discourage young people from making actual, meaningful connections with one another.

These stories often feature relationships that are inappropriate in real life–such as an athlete and a coach or teacher. Visualizing these stories can leave kids vulnerable to sexual abuse.

Most kids find erotic lit by accident. They pick up a story that looks interesting and it’s a really good book. They become so wrapped up in the story that it’s hard to put down, and then they suddenly find themselves reading sexual content. Some kids may then seek out more and could be hiding it right under their parents’ noses–like in a Kindle secret collection.

And it’s not hard to find. Earlier this year we shared how kids as young as five have access to erotic lit on their school-issued devices.

Learn more

Take action to protect your kids

  • Take time to explore the library apps on your child’s school-issued device. You don’t have to spend hours doing this. We found erotic lit in less than 60 seconds on the devices we tested. Also be aware that sites like Good Reads allow kids to read chapters from erotic books for free with no account.
  • Talk to your kids about pornography and give them a plan. This is just one more example of why it’s so important to talk with kids about pornography at a young age. When kids have porn refusal skills, they’ll also be prepared to reject adult content in literature. The Good Pictures Bad Pictures series of books help parents get the conversation started in a comfortable, age-appropriate way.
Prepare your young kids to be safe with Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr: A Simple Plan to Protect Young Minds CLICK HERE to learn how to protect kids ages 3-6 from the dangers of pornography.

5. Porn targets kids through EROTIC PODCASTS

Do your kids enjoy listening to podcasts? They’re a great way to get some screen-free audio entertainment, especially during long car rides. And they’re growing in popularity, especially in this past pandemic year.

64% of parents who listen to podcasts at least a few times a week said they are likely to purchase a subscription to a paid podcast service for their child. 

Sarah Shevenock, Morning Consult

As podcasts gain momentum among younger listeners, parents need to be vigilant about the content their kids may stumble across. This includes sexually suggestive or erotic material. Much of this content is aimed at adults and found by children by accident by browsing through genres.

The title itself doesn’t always give away the content, so you may not know what is appropriate or not until you read the description.

But make no mistake, some of these erotic podcast episodes target teens. Here are just a couple of the descriptions we found aimed at a younger audience:

 “You’re a babysitter, and the kids’ dad is late. He’s had a stressful night, and could use a drink — and some company.” 

“Your mom is throwing a party, and one of her guests — a sexy older man — takes a call outside of your bedroom. You get turned on spying on him. He catches you.”

Erotic podcasts are harmful in the same ways as erotic lit. But the fantasy can be even more realistic as sound effects are added and these podcasts are made to feature the listener as the star.

Take action to protect your kids

6. Porn targets kids with PORN SPAM ON GOOGLE DRIVE

By now we’re all used to hearing about porn spam through email, but did you know it’s now arriving via Google Drive? If your kid has a Google account, they could have unsolicited porn shared with them and added to their Google Drive. It just shows up. And getting rid of it is not as simple as just deleting it since the owner of the file still has control.

Kids will also use Google docs to share things with each other that they don’t want parents to see. It’s a way to get around parental monitoring of texts and emails.

Learn more

Take action to protect your kids

  • Use Bark to monitor your child’s Google Drive
  • Create a family safety plan. Make sure your kids know what to do if something like this ever pops up in their email or Google Drive.
  • Report any porn spam to Google. Google has received numerous reports of this issue and for some reason have not fixed it (despite some pretty obvious and simple solutions). But the more reports they get, the more attention this issue will receive. You can learn how to report porn spam to Google here.
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7. Porn targets kids through SOCIAL MEDIA LIKE TIKTOK, INSTAGRAM, & SNAPCHAT

This should come as no surprise, but it’s such a HUGE problem and it deserves attention every chance we get. Social media platforms popular with kids such as TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. are plagued with pornography. 

Social media is often a gateway to actual porn sites. But kids can get plenty of explicit material without ever leaving social media.

Most kids aren’t being exposed to porn for the first time directly from the porn sites, but from apps like TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram.

Collin Kartchner

Social media also leaves kids vulnerable to predators and traffickers. And it leaves them more open to sextortion, cyberbullying and FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).

Learn more

Take action to protect your kids

  • Delay social media access. Social media can be a really dangerous place for a developing mind to navigate. Adults even have a tough time with appropriate social media use. How can we expect kids to handle it well? We encourage you to consider delaying social media use. 
  • Create family media values. Make a plan as a family. We even have a free guide to help you get started: 4 Steps to Create your Family Media Values. If your child is already on social media, talk to them about each platform they’re on. Ask them if it meets those family media values. 
  • If your child already has social media, discuss what they’re seeing and how it makes them feel. Encourage them to try giving up social media for a week to see if it changes how they feel. Or talk with them about deleting the apps altogether. Collin Kartchner gave some great tips on how to have this conversation in an article he wrote for us earlier this year.
  • If you feel your teen is ready for social media, talk to them about the dangers. They need to know what they might encounter and have a plan for how to handle those situations.

8. Porn targets kids through  VIDEO GAMES POPULAR WITH KIDS

Aside from inappropriate ads in kids’ video games as we discussed above, many of the video games for older kids and teens (and the ones rated adult that many teens are playing) are full of sexual objectification–mostly of females. Often, female characters are scantily clad and their bodies are disproportionate to emphasize the body in a sexual way. 

Due to the free play structure of many popular games, some games even allow for characters to interact sexually (even in games you wouldn’t consider like Fortnite, Minecraft and Roblox). 

A huge problem with many video games is that kids are connecting and interacting with strangers in the game. The chat feature of many games can be extremely inappropriate for kids. It leaves them open to exposure to sexually explicit content and predators.

And kids can even get to popular porn sites like Pornhub directly through gaming consoles like Xbox, Playstation, and Nintendo Switch.

Learn more

Take action to protect your kids

9. Porn targets kids through an ORGANIZED, MASSIVE PORN INDUSTRY

The porn industry is highly organized, big business. They employ talented developers, marketers, lawyers, and more and they are targeting your kids. That’s how they ensure the next generation of porn consumers. They employ the same tactics the tobacco industry used decades ago–deny, disinform, defame.

Companies within the porn industry are making massive amounts of money off the sexual exploitation of others. And in many cases they don’t even have to pay to produce content. Users upload content to sites like Pornhub–often videos of rape and sexual abuse. This allows the sites to offer access to hard core porn for FREE. They make money on advertising and premium subscriptions.

Mindgeek, the company that owns Pornhub, is “…a private pornography conglomerate wtih more than 100 websites…If it operated in another industry, the Justice Department could be discussing an antitrust case against it.”

The New York Times

Learn more

Take action to protect your kids

  • Have the porn talk–early and often. No kid deserves to face the porn industry alone! They need you to talk with them about what pornography is and help them come up with a plan to defend themselves when they encounter it. The Good Pictures Bad Pictures series of books and our new Brain Defense: Digital Safety curriculum can help you start the conversation.
  • Add your voice to millions to take down Pornhub. As we reported last month, there is growing momentum to take down one of the largest porn sites in the world and to hold its executives accountable for allowing millions of videos of illegal and abusive activity on their site. There are two easy and quick things you can do to take a stand against Pornhub. Find out what you can do here.

10. Porn targets kids through PORN SITES MASQUERADING AS SEXUAL WELLNESS CENTERS

Would you trust a porn site to teach your kids about sexual health? What if that porn site hosted videos of child rape and sex-trafficked victims? Or millions of videos promoting despicable racist themes, hateful violence towards women and incest?

That’s exactly what Pornhub, one of the most visited porn sites in the world, is proposing to do. In fact, they have a “sexual wellness center” and now they’ve come out with a sex ed curriculum for kids. 

Pornhub is shamefully trying to buy public goodwill by marketing sex ed material – for free – to lure in more subscribers, and the result is that children will have easy access to Pornhub’s version of sex education. The truth is that Pornhub profits from some of the worst content imaginable.

Dawn Hawkins, senior vice president and executive director, National Center on Sexual Exploitation.

The irony would be laughable if it were not so terribly damaging to kids. Pornhub normalizes unhealthy sexual attitudes and behaviors. In fact, research shows that pornography is damaging to relationships and fuels sexual violence in viewers. 

Take action to protect your kids

Here are three surefire strategies:

  • Make sure you educate your own children about sex, and start from a young age. Use these books to get the convos going. 
  • As your kids mature, make sure you teach them the difference between healthy sex and porn sex. 
  • Help your children understand how porn harms their brains, relationships and the world. 

Porn is both SNEAKY and BOLD in how it targets kids

Knowing some of the ways porn targets kids helps you protect them. But porn is both sneaky (popping up where you’d least expect it) and bold (showing up everywhere and becoming mainstream). So it’s not a matter of if kids will be exposed to porn, but when. 

That’s why it’s so important to help your kids develop an internal filter by having age-appropriate conversations about pornography and healthy sexuality early and often. If you’re not sure where to start, we have powerful resources to help you out! Be sure to check out our best-selling Good Pictures Bad Pictures series of books, Brain Defense: Digital Safety curriculum and download our free guide below.

Protect Young Minds Staff

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