Supporting Kids on #DigitalWellnessDay
It has only been a few years since the debut of Digital Wellness Day. You may not have heard about it, but there is little doubt that it is needed — especially to protect the health of children, and in this post we show you how to take concrete steps to safeguard your family.
Through our new partnership with Canopy, an innovative app that protects children from accessing graphic content on their devices, you can help safeguard your family and support Culture Reframed.
Perhaps nothing speaks more to the urgency of Digital Wellness Day than a recent report that notes that the tech behemoth Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, is “struggling to prevent criminals from using its platforms to buy and sell children for sex.”
Equally eye-opening is the fact that more than half of all American teens report having first seen online pornography when they were aged 13 or younger. Shockingly, 15% of youth had viewed porn by the time they turned 10, when they were still tweens, too young even for admission to The Brady Bunch or The Hobbit at your local movie theater. Yet, instead of watching Finding Nemo or Frozen, these children were clicking on links that led them to Pornhub and xTube.
So, yes, there is great need to acknowledge and take action on Digital Wellness Day.
The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychology reports that 90% of underage American teens have used social media. Many of them have not even reached their 13th birthdays. In its 2020 report on global trafficking, the United Nations called social media platforms “digital hunting fields.”
Around 40% of all teens now believe that it is “normal for people my age to share nudes with each other” through social media. Adolescents, too, reports the American Academy of Pediatrics, also widely post to the internet “illegal alcohol use or overuse, illicit substance use, high-risk sexual behaviors, and harmful behaviors, such as self-injury and disordered eating.”
The same report cited studies that link the viewing of social media by young people, often so they can engage in the unhealthy practice of “social comparisons,” to depression and “declines in well-being and life satisfaction.” Kids who use social media are also at high risk for cyberbullying, sexting, and cybergrooming by online predators.
Young people online are also at high risk of encountering pornography. In fact, about half of all kids first stumble upon porn by accident. They mistakenly click on an unexpected ad that popped up on their screen, fall prey to phishing or website spoofing, simply type the wrong url into their browser, or pull up the history of a porn-using parent or relative.
Often, too, young people simply follow the links. Instagram requires users to be at least 13 years old. But 40% of kids aged 9-12 view Instagram daily. And while Instagram bans nudity, it is often a favorite social media platform for porn performers, who use the g-rated platform to drive traffic to their more explicit pages on freely-available porn and “sex webcamming” sites. According to one source that promotes pornography (which we will not link), the top ten most popular pornstars on Instagram had more than 177 million followers in April 2023. It often takes a user only about three clicks to go from an innocuous looking Instagram post to a page on Pornhub.
And don’t think that the major porn or “tube sites” block kids. Not so! No federal US law requires age-verification. Pornhub, for example, requires no registration, no credit card, and no payment. In the US, too, Pornhub and other such websites do not even bother to post a cursory ‘age gate’ that asks the user to click an “I’m-over-18” button. Since most porn sites derive revenues by selling advertisements on a per-view basis, the company gets payment whether the viewer is 45 or 14.
The porn industry profits from underage audiences.
Social media companies are no better at enforcing their own rules. That’s why the attorneys general from 40 states and several territories wrote a letter to Mark Zuckerberg in 2021 urging Facebook to abandon its plans to launch a branch of Instagram aimed at kids who are under 13. They had no faith in the ability of the industry to respect the health of young people.
We do not want you to resign yourself to the false belief that porn and other bad online actors are an inevitability for your child. Digital Wellness Day encourages us to take proactive steps to secure the health of young people. At Culture Reframed, we suggest the following:
- Set up appropriate apps and programs on your household devices to prevent children from accessing porn and inappropriate sites – and to prevent the predatory porn industry and criminals from finding your kids. Culture Reframed’s new partner, Canopy, provides an app that uses artificial intelligence to scan, detect, and eliminate explicit content before it appears on your child’s screen. Canopy also analyzes photos taken and downloaded to your child’s device to prevent them from accessing or sharing potentially problematic images. The app helps children make better decisions by giving them the option to delete or keep these photos. If the latter, the images are sent to your own personal devices for review, so you can grant your child permission or delete them. You can use this code when signing up at canopy.us for a 20% discount on any of their packages: CULTURE20. A portion of those revenues will support Culture Reframed.
- Read our “A Parents’ Guide to Supporting Family Online Safety.” It provides practical steps for how to manage your kids’ online behavior and foster responsible digital citizenship, and links to “Social Media & Mobile Phone Contract” which you can formulate in collaboration with your children.
- Start talking to your kids about pornography today. We show you how through our free parents programs, which are based on the latest scientific, peer-reviewed research on the harmful effects of porn on young people’s social, emotional, and cognitive health. (Many of these scholarly articles are compiled and summarized in our online library.)
Culture Reframed, like Canopy, supports, in the spirit of Digital Wellness Day, “well-being in the digital era.” Our kids deserve no less.