Brian Wallace, Founder & President, NowSourcing
Parents and guardians have voiced innumerable detrimental impacts that COVID-19 stay-at-home orders left children with. Among the three most harmful effects of the global Coronavirus pandemic on kids, parents consistently ranked the lockdown’s resulting growth in screen time in a 2021 analysis.
Nationally, among adolescents, time spent on technology has increased exponentially, from an average of 3.8 hours per day in 2019 to a whopping norm of 7.7 hours in 2020. This reported leisure time doesn’t include time spent accessing the internet to listen to music, read, or surf for academic purposes. Factoring in this unaccounted-for online productivity, the totals are astronomical.
With easy, and increased, access to the worldwide web comes access to its darker parts too. The inadvertent access of pornography is all too common. Statistically, the majority of today’s kids first witness porn at 11-years-old; two and a half years below the average age in 1985. 34% of internet assessors have fallen victim to unwelcomed porn exposure via misleading links, pop-up ad clicks, deceitful emails, and seemingly normal website or social media embedded advertisements. Two polls focused on adolescents’ exposure specifically. One took the pulse of teens ages 13 to 17 years old. 5 in 10, among the age group, report exposure to porn one to two times monthly at a minimum. The second measured teenagers aging from 14 to 18 years of age. A shocking 81% of them have witnessed pornographic content accidentally, without consent.
In 2020 alone, 30% of documented child sexual abuse material (referred to as CSAM), was produced by minors. This large proportion reflected a 77% jump from the previous year, revealing another potential consequence of the global pandemic. Girls between the ages of eleven and thirteen years old account for an astonishing 80% of CSAM content creation. With these statistics in mind, along with witnessed and talked-about incidents, 84% of parents and guardians express concern regarding their kids’ internet safety.
To prevent the exposure of young eyes to explicit content, it’s crucial to understand how it’s reached. Many kids and teenagers easily access adult sites by cheating on age verification pop-ups that require birthdate entry. Direct messages and emails are often used to transmit unwelcomed messages, with a reported 43% of children between the ages of 8 and 13 years old communicating with strangers on the internet unsupervised. Digital videos in general often include clickable links and pop-ups that direct them to mature content, and with 56% of kids ages 8 to 12 years old and 69% of adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 years old watching online videos each day, they pose a fortified risk.
Curb the damaging potentialities of screen time by augmenting your awareness of how they strike. With more monitoring and the establishment of boundaries, growth in screen time can be barred too as kids develop healthier habits with the devices in their hands.
About the Author: Brian Wallace is the Founder and President of NowSourcing, an industry leading infographic design agency in Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH which works with companies ranging from startups to Fortune 500s. Brian runs #LinkedInLocal events, hosts the Next Action Podcast, and has been named a Google Small Business Adviser for 2016-present. Follow Brian Wallace on Linked