How to Protect Your Family From Internet and Cell Phone Porn

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A relatively new pervasive outbreak of the “pornography plague” has come to your personal mobile phone, the most worrying aspect being that your child can create, access, or be sent, porn on his or her phone - without you knowing about it.

The Saturday Argus (5 November 2005) reported in a headline story “KIDS IN PHONE PORN SHOCK” that “young children accessing hard-core porn via cell phones and the Internet have escalated to such an extent that the child protection organisation Childline, is taking emergency steps to deal with the problem.” The report went on to say, “Childline staff were alarmed that children are increasingly emulating sex acts, such as oral sex, because of their exposure to porn.”

It must be remembered that it is a criminal offence to distribute XX (these would include images of women being abused and raped) and X18 material (material is classified as X18 if there are close-up shots of the genital area). XX materials may be possessed privately but may not be distributed. X18 materials may only be sold at a licensed sex shop. It is also a criminal offence to expose a child (anyone under the age of 18) to pornography. These offences should be reported to the police and to the Film and Publications Board:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or fax: 011 – 483 1084, Tel: 011- 483 0971.

There are 4 ways that porn is accessible via a cell phone. The first method is through a phone’s Internet server (GPRS, 3G, HPSDA enabled). The user would do a purposeful search or website address entry. As on computers you can also unwillingly receive pornographic spam emails. Here the same principles would apply to protecting yourself and your children from Internet porn. Consider only purchasing phones WITHOUT an Internet connection. Visit the following sites for more spam and filter info www.filterreview.com and www.internetsafe.org. Accountability services can be downloaded from www.xxxchurch.com and www.covenanteyes.com.

The second method is by receiving pornographic images/film clips or texts through MMS/SMS. The user requests these SMSes by SMSing a number advertised on TV or in a magazine. Adverts for such SMSes are sometimes broadcast during the late hours of weekends. After many complaints from Christians, e-TV agreed to only broadcast these ads after eleven o’ clock at night and before 6:00am. If you see these adverts on TV at any other time of day, complain to the Advertising Standards Authority. SMS Porn can also be accessed through links in spam SMSes and malicious JAVA applications. Vodacom has produced a Guide to Parental Control of Cell Phones available on www.waspa.org.za.

The Wireless Application Service Provider was formed by South Africa’s trio of cell phone operators (Vodacom, MTN, and Cell-C), to govern the code of conduct of cell-phone networks and to protect against bad practices. According to the Film and Publications Board, porn SMSes or Mmses are deemed “films” by the Film and Publications Act and therefore must be submitted to the FPB for classification. It is therefore illegal for e-TV to advertise such SMS pornographers, since they have not submitted their content to the FPB.All adult content clients (SMS porn senders) need to be members of WASPA and need to abide by their code. If you or your child are receiving pornographic SMSes, report to WASPA (fax: 086 606 2016 or send an online complaint at: www.waspa.org.za) and insist on feedback. SMSWEB has created a service where they will block SMS porn from a phone. SMS BLOCK and the cell phone number to 41333 or call 086 176 7932 for more information. The service costs R25 per year. See www.smsweb.co.za.

The third method is when individuals create porn images or video clips of themselves and send it to their friends or any cell numbers they posses. This has been dubbed ‘sexting’. These may be used by immoral people for dares, blackmail, revenge or perverted thrills. This is becoming an increasing phenomenon in some high schools where teenagers have reportedly filmed other teenagers having sex or posing naked and then have sent or shown the clip around the school. Producing pornography of anyone under the age of 18 is considered child porn and is a criminal offence. The only way parents can deal with this type of porn is to make their children aware of it and insist that they refuse to have any part in the viewing or production of such immoral practices.

The fourth method again is similar to Internet porn. Paedophiles can interact with children via chat rooms or chat services such as MXit, Facebook or MSN. Children should be warned against arranging meetings with strangers or sending photos of themselves to strangers. A Parent’s Guide to MXIT can be found at http://netucation.co.za/downloads/mxit/. Also see: http://www.wiredsafety.org/ for more information on internet safety. Parents need to be aware of what functions their children have on their phones and what sites they are accessing.

MORE TIPS FOR PROTECTING YOUR FAMILY ONLINE

  • Keep the computer in a family room where Internet activity can be monitored.
  • Limit the amount of time they may spend online. Monitor your child’s time and sites visited on the Internet, just as you should their time watching and choices of television programmes.
  • Learn more about the Internet and how it works. A short and simple guide such as Internet: Parental Control by Jan Howells and John Watson, published by Dorling Kindersley: Great Britain, 2000, will help.
  • Place a good filter on your computer that can prevent them accessing or stumbling on, porn sites by mistake. There are many unsuitable sites, including some that promote drugs and cults etc. There are many kinds of filters that work in different ways. Visit www.filterreview.com operated by the U.S. National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families for more information.
  • Internet Explorer also offers ways to censor sites that feature pornography. Click on “Start”, go to “Control Panel”. Click on “Internet Options” and click on the “Content” tab. In “Content Advisor”, click on “Enable”. Click on the “Ratings” tab. This will give you options such as “Nudity” or “Sex” where you can choose the different levels allowed to be viewed on your computer. The “Approved Sites” tab allows you to list websites that will be blocked on your computer.
  • Introduce your children to Christian websites and sites especially set up for children.
  • Many search engines such as www.google.com offer filtering options. Children should use a search engine designed for minors such as www.yahooligans.com.
  • Check up regularly on the sites that have been visited on the computer. Click on History in your web browser (Internet Explorer).
  • Children must never give out their personal details on line.
  • They must not order anything online without your permission, or accept offers for presents, money or free offers.
  • Ask children to talk to a parent if they see anything on line that they don’t like, or think might be wrong.
  • Find out what safeguards are used at your child's school, the public library and at the homes of your child's friends. These are all places outside your supervision where a child can encounter an online predator.
  • Know your children's online ‘friends’.
  • Instruct your child NEVER to arrange face-to-face meetings with someone they ‘met’ online and not to respond to messages or bulletin board postings that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent or harassing.
  • Inform schools or other parents if you hear about children accessing porn on their computers or cell phones. Remember that allowing children to view porn is a form of child abuse.
Christian Action P.O.Box 23632 Claremont 7735 Cape Town South Africa info@christianaction.org.za - 021-689-4481 - www.christianaction.org.za
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