In 2002, Massachusetts Family Institute published the Massachusetts Family Guide to Internet Safety. The Family Guide presented some of the challenges and dangers of the wonderful technology known at that time. Since then, the Internet has changed radically, but the responsibility to guide and protect children online remains the same. Massachusetts Family Institute has updated the guide including new material as well as resources to assist parents in addressing new challenges. It answers difficult questions about the complex and ever-changing World Wide Web.
Many parents are not aware when their children are online and trust that they are cautious when on the Internet. Others find it hard to comprehend their children’s attraction to technology, and the impersonality of internet communication. Seventy-nine percent of teenagers agree, however, that most are not careful about sharing personal information online, and 64 percent say that they are involved in things online that they would not want their parents to know about. While some of these “things” may be harmless, many of them could be dangerous.
It is vitally important that parents understand what is available on the Internet and what their children are doing online. There are many fine websites and other opportunities for appropriate learning; there are also many hidden dangers. Some of these threats may even be physically dangerous, as in the case of sexual predators. Others can harm a child mentally and emotionally and have long-lasting effects. Although no parent can protect his or her children from every danger on the Internet, all parents have the responsibility to become educated and teach their children how to be safe online. Ideally, the computer should be set up where parents can observe what is going on.
If there is an industry that has directly profited from the decline in morality and values in America, the purveyors of pornography have to be at the top of the list. At the beginning of the nineties, just over a thousand pornographic films were being made annually. By the end of the decade, that number was more than 10,000, with the U.S. sex industry collecting an estimated profit of $13.3 billion in 2006. The rapid growth of the Internet, a stunning lack of enforcement of obscenity laws by the government and a mainstreaming of sex by Hollywood have all contributed to this explosion and the consequences are very serious.
Studies now prove that pornography and other sexualized media have the capacity to alter drastically the user’s brain chemistry and functionality, sometimes leading to addiction. Even if a person does not become addicted, they are impacted by the mental, emotional, and spiritual effects of viewing pornography. These effects can lead to marital strain or divorce for married adults, relationship and intimacy problems and, for children, a permanently warped view of women and sexual intimacy.
Massachusetts Family Institute recognizes the destructive attitudes and behaviors promoted by pornography and calls on law enforcement to prosecute obscenity forcefully. Graphic pornography has been linked to criminal sexual behavior, including rape and child molestation, and therefore poses a public health threat to men, women and children. MFI rejects the notion of pornography as a legitimate form of “entertainment” and seeks to advance the public’s understanding of the dangers of pornography and to protect children from its damaging, prurient content.
Citizens must be informed that obscenity, or hardcore pornography, is not protected by the First Amendment, and is banned at the federal level and in over 40 states, including Massachusetts.