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Video games: Portals to porn?

February 18, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
If your kids are hooked on video games like the Nintendo Wii or Sony PlayStation, watch out. Many parents may be surprised to learn these devices could be a pathway to something quite shocking.In this digital world, you can connect to the Web without a computer from your cell phone and handheld gaming devices from just about anywhere and at any time. These portable devices don't just play games, they can also connect to the Internet.

And, that means your kids can access pornography from their PlayStations and iPhones.

Hardcore pornography is not the type of material you'd expect to find playing Nintendo's popular Wii game. But the Wii and other video games can access the Internet, and offensive material on it.

Parents who try to block questionable content on their home computers may not realize these electronic gadgets can log on to porn just as easily.

That's something Adam Carpenter and his friends found out. Adam is just 15, and like many kids his age, loves to play video games.

The Corona high school student knows how easy it is to surf the Web for pornography and other inappropriate material from the same gadgets he uses to play video games.

Adam knows several kids who have either stumbled onto adult content or searched for it on game devices. But Adam says, it's not for him.

"I just say, 'I'm out, guys. I'm going to go.' I try to stay away from it as much as I can," said Adam.

Adam's mother Tracy, says she was well aware of the dangers of accessing pornography and offensive material from computers. But games marketed for kids, that's a whole different matter.

"With the gaming, I felt like, What did I miss? There should have been a warning label or something, like, I didn't know, what did I miss?" Tracy said.

"If you're going to hand your kids a piece of technology, you'd better know everything that that piece of technology does," said Mike Foster, ThePornTalk.com. "A gaming console is not just about playing games. It can do a lot more things than that."

Mike Foster runs a Web site called ThePornTalk.com. The Corona father of two says the site aims to help educate parents about the dangers of pornography. Foster says taking the time to talk to kids about porn encourages a culture of openness and helps make your home a safer place to talk about anything.

"What we're telling parents, be responsible when you're introducing new technology into your home," said Foster. "Know what it can do. Use parental controls. Engage with your kids these pieces of technology."

Foster showed us how easy it is to access adult-only sites using a handheld game controller.

Many portable devices have parental controls, allowing users to block access to pornography and other questionable content.

Among those are the Wii, Sony's PSP, the Xbox, Nintendo DS, and the iPhone 3G. Some wireless carriers charge customers an extra fee to filter content on smart-phones like the popular BlackBerry models and the T-Mobile Sidekick.

The problem with parental controls is that many kids can figure out how to disable them. And if their own devices are blocked, their friends' devices may not be.

"I don't think you're going to control it," said Tracy Carpenter. "I don't think you're going to keep it away in this culture, in this society."

Both parents agreed that the best way to steer your kids away was to keep an open line of communication.

ThePornTalk.com

Wii parental controls

PlayStation parental controls

Xbox parental controls

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