7 Dangers of the Internet for Kids

The World Wide Web is the greatest invention since the printing press. Nothing else has so radically shaped culture, media, commerce, entertainment, and communication. But with these benefits come great dangers all parents should know about.

1. Pornography – Warping the minds of youth

Repeatedly viewing pornography, especially from a young age, can radically shape one’s sexual attitudes and beliefs. Frequent exposures to sexually explicit material is closely linked to more permissive attitudes about sex, such as having multiple sexual partners, “one night stands,” cynicism about the need for affection between sexual partners, casual sexual relations with friends, and even mimicking behaviors seen in pornography.

2. Sexting – The unsafe ‘safe sex’

Sexting is sending or receiving nude or partially nude photos or videos through the Internet or cell phones. When teens engage in this risky behavior, many things can go wrong. These images are easy to forward on to others. At times, these images can be considered “child pornography,” and some teens have already been given felony charges.

  • Nearly 1 in 5 teens who receive a sext share it with someone else.
  • 20% of teens have sent or posted a nude or semi-nude image of themselves.
  • Of those who have sent sexts, 76% of girls and 57% of guys sent it to get someone else to like them.

3. Cyberbullying – The mean way kids treat each other online

Bullying happens on both the playground and in the digital world. Hurtful words are exchanged. Rumors start easily and spread quickly. Profiles and e-mails are hacked. And these types of activities are common today:

4. Predators – Those seeking to ensnare our children

The Internet is a perfect forum to meet new people, but some with malicious intent can use it to “befriend” your child. Internet predators are expert manipulators, able to foster a relationship of dependence with a teenager. Most prey on a teen’s desire to be liked, their desire for romance, or their sexual curiosity. Often a predator “grooms” a child through flattery, sympathy, and by investing time in their online relationship. These can then turn into offline relationships or, in extreme cases, opportunities for kidnapping or abduction.

  • 76% of predators are 26 or older.
  • 47% of offenders are 20 years older than their victims.
  • 83% of victims who met their offender face-to-face willingly went somewhere with them.

5. Gaming – More risks of exposure to sexual media and interactions

While online and console games can be very fun, educational, and interactive, there are also hidden dangers. Much of the content of some games include sexual content, violence, and crude language. Plus, Internet-connected games enable kids to interact with strangers, some of which can be bad influences or mean your kids harm.

6. Social Networks – Redefining privacy

Social networks like Facebook are very popular online activities. But parents should be aware of the image their teens are projecting as well as the influences they are absorbing online.

7. YouTube – ‘Broadcast yourself’ culture means anything goes

YouTube is the world’s largest video sharing website. But because anyone can upload anything to YouTube, often videos can break the Community Guidelines for YouTube, and even those that do not can still be full of sexual innuendo, provocative content, and foul language.

  • 48 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute (about 8 years of content uploaded every day).
  • Over 3 billion videos are viewed every day on YouTube.
  • Users upload the equivalent of 240,000 full length films every week.’

Internet Safety Facts

Learn more Internet danger stats in our new guide, Parenting the Internet Generation: 7 Potential Threats and 7 Habits for Internet Safety. In this guide you will also learn proactive steps you can take to protect your children and your home. You will learn about habits you can teach your teens to prepare them to become responsible adults in the online world.

I originally published this post for the Covenant Eyes blog, Breaking Free.

6 thoughts on “7 Dangers of the Internet for Kids

    • Pornography is good… Especially for the home schooled who have no idea how to communicate with the out side world and no social skills. Sheltered kids become the next Ron Jeremy..

      • Interesting perspective, Ron. Since Ron Jeremy wasn’t homeschooled, I wonder how he ended up the way he did. I’d love to know why you think porn is so good and why you think it helps homeschooled kids to communicate better and have more social skills. Seems like the opposite would be true.

      • I am a homeschooled student, and I have no lack of social skills. If anything, I have too many friends. ^_^ I can connect with anyone, any age. I have friends who are babies, friends who are 6, friends who are 12, friends who are 18, 19, 21, 43, 67,… –you name a number and I’ve got a friend that age. There has been a myth going around that homeschoolers are not social. My friend, let me tell you from my own homeschooling experience that homeschoolers are some of the most social people out there. Sure, you have some shy and introverted homeschoolers, but those of us who are extroverts and capital S’s (as my family always called me and my 7 siblings) make friends with all–even those who are shy. One other thing I’d like to add… if you view pornography it will damage (or even destroy) your relationship with your parents, two of the most important people in a teen’s life. (because you won’t tell them about it, you will lie to cover it up) Therefore, viewing pornography does *not* help your social skills (unless you think it’s more important to communicate only with people you want to have sex with ???? I’m not sure you meant to imply that, Ron.)

        In response to your first sentence. Pornography is not good. It destroys the brain, and it makes you think of the opposite sex (or the same sex) as a tool, only to be used. It will hurt future relationships, especially if you get married. It also hurts your thought life, and makes you fantasize. You get these pictures of what sex is all about, and that it’s perfect, and it’s the basis for a perfect relationship. That is a lie. Just look at the statistics of those couples who cohabit before marriage and then got divorced… I could go on, but I don’t think you want a whole post here in the comments. :p

        Back to the original article. Thanks, Mr. Gilkerson, the article was well written and I agree with it. Sometimes I wish I did not have internet… not always, of course. But I do see many dangers even with the many benefits.

  1. I think that this is a good article. However there are a few points to point out.

    1) Children are not stupid. If children want a Facebook/twitter/ myspace they can do it without their parents knowing. I think having open communication on this is what is important. I know people who have created facebook accounts for their kids and it’s a win win situation.

    2) Cyber bullying.- Doesn’t not start online. It starts in the home from the way the children see their parents or role models act. Then it starts in the school and no one putting a stop on it. I also feel like cyber bullying has been blown way out due to things being taken out of context.

    3) Video Gaming- There is nothing wrong with it. I feel like children do not pick up on it it is never brought up. Boys especially use video gaming to get out their emotions in a healthy way. Some kids use sports others use video gaming.

    Just want to point out another point of view.

    • Hi Pink. Thanks for your thoughts. I mostly agree with you, though I’m not sure if your comments are meant as a correction or just an addition. I have some thoughts below.

      1) Yes, children are not stupid. Yes, children can start accounts without their parents knowing. And yes, open communication is the best situation (this is exactly what accountability software can give parents). I agree with you completely. My statistics about social networks have more to do with the adult content and culture on social networks and the unhealthy habits that can be developed.

      2) You are right: bullying happens more often in person than online. I don’t dispute this at all (see one of my other articles with more bullying stats). But the point is what starts “on the playground” can now be taken to the Internet where the bullying becomes more ubiquitous, anonymous, and more malevolent. Bullying should be combated on all fronts, on and offline. (I thought the recent CBS special on this subject covered it very well.)

      3) I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with gaming as an activity (which is why I said online and console games “can be very fun, educational, and interactive”). I’m only saying the content of some games can be harmful. My friend Lisa Eldred did a wonderful job in a series of articles about the pros and cons of gaming. It’s called “Not Just Child’s Play” (see Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3).

      Thanks for stopping by!

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