The Internet, Pornography, and Children why should anyone be concerned about pornography on the Internet? After all, this is a free country and everyone should have access to anything they want, right? This position would be true if only adults used the Internet; it cannot be true when children also use the Internet. Most people would agree that children should not have access to Internet sites that are considered pornographic. Does that mean that children should not be allowed Internet access or that the Internet should not have pornographic sites? Of course it doesn t mean that! What it does mean is that the issues arising from the mixture of children and Internet should be dealt with and not ignored.
This paper will attempt to intelligently discuss some of those issues. Areas covered will include what the Internet is, risks to children who are viewing the Internet, what pornography is, and laws concerning child pornography (in general and over the Internet). Additionally, the number, content, and accessibility of pornographic sites will be discussed. Lastly, this paper will discuss what measures can be taken to protect children from pornographic Internet sites. What exactly is the Internet? It is a global network of computers used to transmit all types of data between computers. Text, numbers, programs, illustrations, photographs, audio, animation, and video can all be transmitted over the Internet. Contrary to what some people may think, the Internet is not a single computer nor is it a single service. The Internet is not owned by or governed by anyone. It exists solely through the support of the companies and institutions that access it.
Though the Internet seems relatively new, its roots actually start in the 1960s. In 1969,the Department of Defense started the ARPANET project. ARPANET was a decentralized computer network that was used to link military researchers at four universities. The Internet later evolved out of ARPANET. Funding from the National Science Foundation in the 1980seventually led to the Internet being opened to commercial traffic.
Services provided over the Internet include the World Wide Web, electronic mail (the most popular service), Newsgroups, and Chat. For one computer to communicate with another computer on the Internet, both computers must be connected to the Internet. Connection to the Internet can come from commercial online services or through Internet service providers. Generally, home users connect to the Internet via the commercial online services over regular phone lines. Some of these services include Prodigy, CompuServe, and America Online. Businesses, universities, government agencies, and the like, often have direct connection to an Internet provider over high-speed digital lines. Some of these providers include Netcom and PSI.1.
The number of adults online in the United States by the end of 1998 has been estimated as low as 44 million and as high as 80 million. At the end of 1997, the number of children online was almost 10 million. It is estimated that by the year 2002, 45 million children will be online. While it is not clear how many these children have access to the Internet at home, it is clear what percentage of them have access at school. Currently, about 81.8% of all American schools have the Internet. It is estimated by the end of the 1998-1999 school year, about 95.9%of all American schools will be hooked up to the Internet.