Families, Youth: Ground Zero for Internet Porn Explosion

by Rusty Pugh and Jody Brown

(AgapePress) Pornography on the Internet has become so prevalent that it is almost impossible for families to avoid. One pro-family expert says it is more important than ever for families to take measures to protect themselves against it.

According to figures released recently by the Internet filtering company N2H2 (n2h2.com), the number of commercial pornography websites has increased a staggering 1,800% in the last five years, with an estimated 260 million pages classified as porn. In a single month (July 2003), N2H2 says more than 28 million new porn web pages appeared. That one-month jump is roughly twice the number that existed in N2H2's entire database in 1998.

In a press release, N2H2 quotes a study by the National Research Council that attributes the growth in Internet porn to the economics of the industry, which it says "engages in tactics that seek to generate the broadest possible audience."

The Internet filtering company cites another study, this one by the Kaiser Family Foundation, that found that 70% of teens who get online have accidentally stumbled across pornography -- often through "porn-napped" websites (expired domain names of innocent sites taken over by pornographers) and "typo-squatted" sites (registered domain names with deliberate typographical errors that drive viewers to porn sites).

What that boils down to, according to Ed Vitagliano of the American Family Association (afa.net), is an environment in which it is extremely difficult for families to avoid the intrusion -- and the destructive effect -- of pornography.

"These pornographic websites are scattering and casting as broad a net as possible -- and not only can adults be hooked into this, but also children and teenagers. This is a dangerous, dangerous place. Parents need to be extremely careful about where their kids are going [on the Internet]. Part of the problem is that a lot of parents just don't understand computers and they don't understand the Internet."

According to the pro-family researcher, the key is for parents to get educated. "It's not as difficult as some people may think to become aware of how the Internet is used and how e-mail is used," Vitagliano says. And as parents are "coming up to speed" on computer and Internet use? Vitagliano has a suggestion: "Probably the most important thing parents can do is to get good Internet filters installed on their computers," he says. "Do it to protect your children -- just like you'd teach your children as they're growing up about crossing the street and not talking to strangers."

Vitagliano says contrary to what porn advocates and liberal educators say about the effectiveness of filters, there are many excellent filters that do work. "And besides," he says, "even a less-than-perfect filter is better than no filter at all."

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