Parenting is more challenging than ever before, with children allowed access to the Internet and mobile devices from an early age – whether for education, entertainment or communication.

Uncontrolled Internet access places minors at risk for exposure to inappropriate, harmful and often explicit content like pornography and violence. Andrew Wilson, CEO of Lucidview, which provides network management and intelligent cybersecurity analysis tools, says while children have a tendency to be naturally curious, given the ubiquitous availability of inappropriate (especially X-rated) content, it is not difficult for curiosity to spiral out of control and eventually lead to addiction.

But how do parents know if they are raising porn addicts in their homes? Like other addictive substances, the easiest way to prevent addiction is to remove exposure or temptation.

READ MORE: SA leads Africa in porn consumption

It’s adult content for a reason

According to TechAddiction statistics on pornography addiction,  the average age at which children are exposed to pornography is 11.

Roughly 200 000 Americans admit to being porn addicts, which means they spend more than 11 hours a week looking at porn. This addiction has led 48% of addicts to lose their spouses, 58% suffered considerable financial loss, while one-third lost their jobs. In addition, porn-related queries make up 25% of web traffic, while “child pornography” features in 116 000 search queries daily. Bearing in mind that South Africa has been ranked one of the top porn-consuming countries on the continent, it’s clear that this is a problem that parents need to address early on.

Wilson advises while it might be uncomfortable at such a young age to discuss the topic of pornography and its effect on each gender’s perspective and expectations of sex, marriage and relationships, it is necessary to remove such content in order to prevent children from accidentally stumbling across it. And stumble across it they will, given that there are more than 24,5 million dedicated porn sites on the Internet and this number is growing daily.

“By providing children with Internet access that is clean and safe, such awkward conversations can be postponed until the minor reaches the appropriate age, and parents can rest assured that they’ve taken the correct steps to protect their children against the dangers that pornography poses to their emotional and physical development.”

Clean safe Internet browsing is easier than parents think

Until now there was no effective, affordable way for parents to filter and block undesirable or illegal content automatically. No longer do parents have to turn on SafeSearch on their children’s browsers and hope for the best, as there are already local technology providers that have developed the solution to protect children from the dangers of the Internet.

Parents will be relieved to know that safe, clean Internet is as easy as plugging a simple software-independent device into the home network. By creating a new wifi point that manages all connections at the gateway and by diverting all home traffic through the device, parents are able to block the three major types of unsafe content by default: pornography, gambling, and piracy.

Furthermore, it should be a simple matter for parents to configure such protective devices to block other sites or content types as and when they’re deemed to be unsafe. Thanks to the delivery of monthly automated usage reports, parents are kept in the loop as to what sites users on the home network are visiting, and they’re able to see exactly how much time each child spends on which online activities.

READ MORE: Parents, look out for sex predators online

In addition to the ability to protect children from accidental exposure to harmful content, parents would do well to look for solutions that extend beyond content control. By looking for solutions that offer powerful security features, parents will be equipped also to block malware and ransomware phone-home connections, thereby effectively eliminating the dangers lurking on the Internet.

“This is especially important for children because access to a safe, clean Internet devoid of dangerous distractions means access to a world of information and age-appropriate entertainment –  all of which contribute to successfully raising healthy, well-adjusted adults,” says Wilson.