28 Jul The Hidden Internet
**Updated on July 16, 2016 – Did you know you can access porn through the Bible App? Through the Weather Channel App? Through LinkedIn? The hidden internet is real – read more below**
In July 2015, a 44-year old Grand Rapids woman was caught having a 2-year relationship with a (now) 13-year old boy from New Jersey. It’s a disturbing, but a common story with a familiar plot – a predator adult exploits unmonitored internet access to target a young person. But, this one had a slight twist, because contact wasn’t initiated through a computer, iPod or Smartphone. It wasn’t even at night when online dangers lurk heavy. The relationship was ignited in the light of day through the boy’s XBOX.
If you’re a parent with a child who has a smart device, can you do something for me? Make a list of every internet doorway that exists for this one child, including devices and locations. Don’t forget church, school, or McDonald’s free Wi-Fi. Don‘t forget the home computer, iPad, Smartphone, smart TV, gaming device, etc. and then multiply that list for every friend‘s home that is visited.
What you will quickly discover is that the list of internet doorways is LONG. Your child has internet access everywhere.
Recently, I’ve become more and more aware of what I call “the hidden internet.”
These are non-traditional ways to access an unfiltered internet search. Consider this list:
- Through Instagram’s “Blog” section, you can perform an unfiltered Google search (click the link and look under “What Parents Need to Know” and then the “Unfiltered Internet Access!” bullet).
- Through the “About” section of any Twitter or Facebook page for search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo, you can perform an unfiltered internet search (click the link and look under “What Parents Need to Know” and then the “Unfiltered Browsing” bullet).
- Internet access exists through the XBOX 360, XBOX ONE, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo DS. The XBOX features in-game chatting and video chat through XBOX Kinect.
- (*July 2 2016 Update*) Bible App – Unfiltered access to Twitter and Facebook exists by clicking on “More” in the bottom menu, and then “About.” From there, you can search through Twitter without ever leaving the Bible app, or access a Google, Bing or Yahoo search bar by clicking on google.com on Google’s Twitter profile within the app.
- (*July 16, 2016 Update*) Weather Channel App – Unfiltered access to Twitter, Instagram and YouTube by clicking the gear in the upper left corner, then AdChoices, and at the bottom are icons for 5 social media platforms. Similar to The Bible App, you can search in Twitter for Google’s Twitter account, and click on google.com in their description, and get a Google search bar for whatever you want.
- (*July 16, 2016 Update*) LinkedIn App – Unfiltered access to Twitter, and from there, you can access a search bar for Google or Yahoo by finding their LinkedIn pages, and then clicking on the yahoo.com or google.com address in their company description. From there, you’ll get an unfiltered search bar.
Parents are increasingly savvy about using a filtered browser like Covenant Eyes or Mobicip on the iPod, iPad or iPhone, but they often forget about these more obscure avenues to unfiltered internet access. And, with up to 30% of the internet classified as pornographic, the risk of accidental exposure is high, especially given the many, many ways a child can access the web.
Consider these tips for equipping kids to handle these hidden doorways:
- Filter the wireless signal in your home with Open DNS (this is an absolute must).
- Enable parental controls on gaming devices.
- Understand what apps carry the risk of unfiltered internet access.
- Control what apps are added to their devices until age 16 (yes, they will hate you for this).
- For Apple’s iOS devices, enabling restrictions will prevent clicking through to sexually explicit websites in the Google, Yahoo and Bing search bars in the Bible App, Weather Channel, and LinkedIn, but it won’t control image searches.
- Have continuous conversations with kids about what to do if they see something online that they know is wrong or makes them uncomfortable. Since it’s impossible to monitor every internet doorway, empowering your kids to identify harmful internet behavior is crucial. We’ve created *free* conversation sheets to give you a boost.
I’m a dad of young kids who wants to help you protect the young eyes in your home. Since we can’t prevent everything, let’s teach our kids how to use the internet responsibly! Please share this information with your friends if you find it helpful.