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Mobile Safety Canadian Center for Child Protection
Know the Risks

Exposure to inappropriate material

Today's children/adolescents are impacted by a strong media presence through the Internet, television, music videos, advertisements, mobile phones, etc. Many messages in the media promote the normalization of sexually explicit behaviour at an increasingly younger demographic. Parents should be aware of children/adolescent's exposure to inappropriate material—sexually explicit, violent, or threatening text, pictures, videos, or phone calls—through their mobile phones.

How could children be exposed to inappropriate material on their mobile phone?

  • Receiving sexually explicit/threatening material through text messaging/instant messaging
  • Receiving sexually explicit photos/videos
  • Receiving sexually explicit or threatening phone calls
  • Receiving inappropriate material from nearby users with Bluetooth-enabled devices (for more on Bluetooth, see
    What mobile phones can do).
  • Viewing inappropriate websites via a web browser
  • Absence of filtering software

What can parents do?

  • Stay involved with how your child/adolescent is using his/her mobile phone—what is your child/adolescent doing on his/her phone?
  • Check on who your child/adolescent is talking to regularly, and what functions and applications s/he is using while talking/messaging with people.
  • Encourage your child/adolescent to update their social networking sites from the home computer rather than from his/her mobile phone. Without filtering in place, children/adolescents are more likely to be exposed to inappropriate content.
  • Include mobile phone use in your discussions with your child/adolescent about the media (video games, TV, Internet, etc.). How much time is your child/adolescent spending on mobile phones, video games, TV, and the computer? It's important to establish limits on use—for example, making sure the child/adolescent turns the phone off during school hours.
  • Review and implement parental controls—talk with the mobile phone provider about how you can filter content or disable/limit functions on your child/adolescent's mobile phone.
  • Monitor monthly bills (if the mobile phone is on a postpaid/monthly plan) to see how and when the mobile phone is being used.
  • Encourage your child/adolescent to speak up, and to speak with a safe adult if presented with an uncomfortable situation.

For more information on the power of messages in the media, visit Media Awareness Network.

For more ways to reduce the risks associated with children/adolescents and exposure to inappropriate materials,
click here

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