The Internet: A Pandora’s Box of Threats to Our Children

The Internet has opened up a Pandora’s Box of threats to our children. These threats include grooming by online predators for sexual abuse or to be sex trafficked; having sexually explicit images and videos shared online that will haunt our children for the rest of their lives; exposure to pornography; messages encouraging harmful sexual behavior like sexting, hookup sex, and more; and the mental health impacts of seeing countless objectifying messages.

We believe a critical aspect of child online safety is the availability of caregiver controls on any device or platform where children are likely to be found. We are taking steps to ensure technology companies prioritize child safety and give parents more power.  

According to a Bark’s 2021 Annual Report that analyzed over 3.4 billion messages across platforms:

  • 68.97% of Tweets and 90.73% of teens encountered nudity or other sexual content.
  • 9.95% of tweens and 20.54% of teens of teens encountered predatory behaviors.

Thanks to your partnership, we are making significant progress in transforming the Internet into a safer place for children. Here are just a few highlights from the past year:

  • Our lawsuit against Twitter for facilitating and profiting from sexual abuse images of two young boys continues to move forward in the federal courts. It is presently pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
  • In August, Snap Inc. released its first set of parental controls, named “Family Center”, providing parents with the ability to view their children’s friends and report suspicious accounts. NCOSE participated in discussions and official expert consultations around the Family Center development.
  • After a half-dozen consultations with NCOSE, Apple announced multiple improvements to their parental controls, named “Screen Time”. These improvements included defaulting content restrictions based on a user’s age, and providing a “checklist” of safety features to ensure parents know what is available for them to protect their children.
  • Meta implemented numerous changes which NCOSE and our allies have been advocating for them to make for several years. In mid-November, Meta announced they would be defaulting settings to higher safety levels for 13-15-year-old users on Facebook and Instagram. These defaulted settings make it much harder for teens and “suspicious accounts” to interact with each other, and increase messages and educational tools meant to prevent sextortion and self-generated sexually explicit images. Earlier in the year, Instagram also restricted content for teens under 16 to the highest safety setting (though teens are able to change this and other settings – something we hope will be changed through more parental oversight tools).
  • This year Congress introduced SIX bills on online child safety, five with bipartisan support! Congress hasn’t addressed these issues in a serious way since the early 2000s!

Thanks for your continued support.

Thank you for believing a better world is possible!

©NCOSE. All rights reserved.

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