Now that consumers are getting more educated about online content, could the tide be turning in favor of more accountability and better online child safety? Earlier today I got a phone call from an FBI agent friend alerting me to the new Snapchat channel, “Cosmo After Dark,” after a parent called him with concern. This channel is searchable in the Discover feature of Snapchat. The issue became public knowledge when my friend at Protect Young Eyes, Chris McKenna, published his whistleblowing article, “Snapchat Introduces Cosmo After Dark (It’s P*RN).” Todays quick read explores why this is an issue GKIS parents need to know about.
Cosmo After Dark advertises that it is “an X-rated weekly edition that goes live every Friday at 6 p.m. and is exclusively dedicated to all things hot and h*rny.” Not only might your child access this content, they might even be able to subscribe to it! Although Snopes points out that Snapchat has age-gating tools that block “adult” content from users under 18 years old, Chris argues that Snapchat may be getting more desperate and allowing more lascivious content in order to maintain more marketshare. As Snapchat gets more worried about the bottom line, the worry is they may slip in corporate responsibility.
Another issue raised is if this content is Cosmo’s traditional sexy fare or is it actually pornography? You be the judge. Cosmo After Dark articles include:
“The 19 Best Sites to Binge-Watch Porn On”
“12 Songs You Should Have Sex to Right Now”
“The Steamiest Most X-Rated Sex Party Confessions”
Just sexy articles, right? I would argue that our kids and teens are harmed by hypersexual content. Are you comfortable with your teen son or daughter getting instructions for more satisfying anal sex? I didn’t think so.
After a busy day of watching this story evolve between clients, I am happy to say there is a happy ending. Due to parent outcry, Cosmopolitan magazine just pulled Cosmo After Dark. It turns out that our voices matter. As parents get more educated, we are becoming increasingly effective advocates with real influence. Thank you Chris for keeping an eye out for us. Unfortunately, this won’t be the last risk trap on social media.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PROTECT YOUR KIDS FROM ADULT ONLINE CONTENT?
If your teen has Snapchat, make sure their birthdate is accurate within the app. According to Snapchat, this will give some protection from inappropriate content.
If you’re worried your child may edit his or her birthday in order to access adult content, Protect Young Eyes reports that you can lock the edit feature by changing the birthdate on your child’s phone until you reach max attempts.
Avoid the whole issue altogether by following the Terms of Agreement on social media apps due to COPPA. If your child is younger than 13 years old, don’t allow them social media yet. Messenging apps and texting is risk enough.
Use sound digital parenting tools like Ourpact, Unglue, and Bark. Filtering content, tracking use, encouraging accountability, and monitoring content not only teaches kids important skills, it also puts parents in the screen driver’s seat so they can stay involved and offer teaching and support along the way.
Get informed about risk and best screen sanity parenting practices with Screen Time in the Mean Time: A Parenting Guide to Get Kids and Teens Internet Safe. It’s not just what you do that matters, how you do it counts too. Although safety strategies are important, forming a fun, cooperative relationship with your kids is key to a happy, healthy, screen safe family.
I’m the mom psychologist who will help you GetKidsInternetSafe.
Onward to More Awesome Parenting,
Tracy S. Bennett, Ph.D.
Mom, Clinical Psychologist, CSUCI Adjunct Faculty