#instaporn

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We MUST be aware of what our children are up against. (Granted, I don’t have kids yet.)  However, I become increasingly worried for the little ones whose parents blindly give them technology without discussing the dangers. Children can only observe and emulate others’ behavior. We live in a world where blatant sexual attention is often apathetically accepted and sometimes desperately sought after, young girls and boys can only imitate the role models society gives them. America’s teenagers are given role models like Miley Cyrus, who, in recent music videos, “twerks” and wears next-to-nothing for sexual attention, promoting her hyper sexualized brand.. Young male teens are taught through every type of media that women are there for their own pleasure. Technology is only making pornography more extreme, and widely available, giving men and women an unrealistic goal of sexual performance and body image.  Social media such as Instagram, SnapChat, Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter exacerbate the pornography problem because many of their users see what celebrities and porn stars post and attempt to emulate that behavior, posting their own pornographic images.  Thinking the sexier the photo the more people will like it (and like me), Kids are led to believe that unbridled blatant sexuality is empowering and not demeaning.  Pornographic material should be more restricted and tightly regulated in advertising, television, and online and social media because its uncontrolled, easy access has over sexualized America, contributing to the dehumanization of humans as mere objects of sexual pleasure.  Unfortunately, it is unlikely that pornography will become more controlled.  So, it is up to US, the parents and the children, to fight this difficult battle together.

Social media sites often feign concern about pornography and obscenity by explicitly prohibiting it in the “terms of use” statements, but they do little to enforce the terms.  Terms of use agreements that appear before one can use computer software, visit a website, or use an application on a smartphone often seem unimportant and annoying to read.  These terms of use agreements are only an obstacle in the way of using the product.  Instagram, and many other social media sites throw their terms of use agreement out the window when it comes to enforcing their basic terms.  Instagram’s second basic term states, “You may not post violent, nude, partially nude, discriminatory, unlawful, infringing, hateful, pornographic or sexually suggestive photos or other content via the Service.” Yet, take one glance at the most liked photos of Instagram on the “popular page,” and most of the photos are sexually suggestive. Instagram alone has 150 Million active users and an average of 55 Million photos posted per day. New York University professor Terri Senft says “Instagram has moved from a niche thing to something people have heard about, and that means it has a critical mass. Whenever you have a critical mass on the Internet, the sex shows up.” (Bosker)  Although full and partial nudity are not often on the popular page Instagram, Tumblr, Vine, Twitter, and Facebook are still covered in it.

Certain well-entrenched, popular elements of social media sites enhance the user’s ability to engage in sexually oriented, dehumanizing dialogue with strangers.  Perhaps chief among these is the “hashtag.”  Hashtag, is a tool on social media sites used to group posts together by putting a pound sign or hash (#) before the phrase or word (i.e. #instagram).  While banned hashtags on Instagram include “#nude” and “#sex” another example of feigned anti-pornography concern by the social media giants, there are plenty that make up for that like #handbra, #funbags, #instasex, etc. linking thousands of photos of nudes, partial nudes, masturbation, genitals, and even child pornography together.   Vine, the popular video sharing app, is also plagued with these R and X rated posts.  Videos of couples masturbating can be found with a press of a few buttons.  Through the promotion of sex, casual sex with strangers, the dehumanizing effects of these images and videos are obvious and incalculable.

While I’m not trying to frighten the heck out of everybody, I am trying to educate parents about the importance of understanding the hardships that can come with technology. Pornography is an almost irresistible addiction for the 21st century generation.  It can be free, viewed almost anywhere on a smart phone, and there is a seemingly endless supply.  With most teenagers spending over ELEVEN hours on some sort of technology everyday there is ample opportunity to view pornography.  Almost 70% of apparently pornography viewers started watching before the age of fourteen.  Many pornography addicts believe that overtime, masturbation and pornography use contributed to: anxiety, depression and other psychological effects; the belief that it is negatively affecting the ability to find a partner; the quality of sex in relationships; and a loss of the capacity for self-control.  Although many believe pornography has several harmful consequences, many Americans defend it because they claim it is protected free speech guaranteed by the Constitution’s First Amendment.  Mattias Caro, an editor for Ethika Politika, speaking on the notion that pornography is protected free speech, issue said “to take this position is simply monstrous. Take a step back and think about it. Pornography exploits human beings. Sure, no one is compelled into a photoshoot, but the freedom of engaging in smut does not somehow make it morally right.”

Many women seem to view pornography as a necessary evil.  Women rationalize male use of pornography by thinking that men are built to have these fantasies and can’t control their urges.  Many girls on social media view porn stars as role models and women they should aspire to be like because these women are something that men want. I felt this way once.  Lost and confused I only found value in the way boys thought of me.  I didn’t want to be beautiful I wanted to be thought of as sexy.  With this sort of thinking I lost my light.  It wasn’t until I started viewing myself from the inside that I felt happy and found my worth.  Similarly, confused young girls start posting sexually suggestive photos on social media to feel empowered and in control of their sexuality.  However, it opens up a world of cyber bullying, low self-esteem, and anxiety.  Sadly, in this day in age many girls only can feel proud of themselves for the amount of likes and comments their photo gets on Instagram. In Nancy Jo Sales Vanity Fair article, “Friends Without Benefits” she quotes Ronna Gradus, a co-director of Sexy Baby and writer for The Miami Herald saying ‘“Technology being so available made every girl or woman capable of being a porn star, or thinking they’re a porn star, they’re objectifying themselves. The thinking is: ‘If I’m in control of it, then I’m not objectified’”

Pornography use is something that has become societally accepted in the U.S.  Although it is considered protected under the First Amendment It is something that harms more than it helps.  Pornography can lead to depression and anxiety, as well as create low self-esteem in young and old women alike.  On a larger and more extreme scale pornography fuels human sex trafficking and can lead to murder.  Social media sites like Instagram and Twitter have made pornography so readily available.  Pornographic images should be much more tightly regulated on social media because it directly contributes to the dehumanization of men and women as objects of sexual pleasure.  However, it is not very well controlled!  It really is up to us to do the regulating. Parents I ask you to be very aware of what your child is doing when they spend time on a smart phone, tablet, or computer.  Please talk to them often about these dangers and take the appropriate measures for your child’s safety.

Here are some links & apps that may help

5 Steps you can take right now to protect your kids

How to block Safari and other apps on iPhone

For iOS:

MobicipMobicipIcon200x200_thumbnail

A safe browser that filters out inappropriate content according to the users settings. It also filters Youtube videos. (set iPhone restrictions to not allow Safari)

Parent Kit

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A monitoring app to schedule usage of Safari and other apps from your own device remotely.

For Android:

Screen Timeunnamed

An app to control how long your child is on their phone.  Helps when your child is trying to study but continues to look at their phone.

Kid’s Placeunnamed-1

An app launcher that restricts kids to only the apps that you approve.  Creates a mode that is just for children that keeps your own data restricted.