Earlier this month, Symantec published a list of the top 100 kids’ online search words for 2009 (ages 18 & under). The data comes from a free search monitoring service for parents called OnlineFamily.Norton.
As expected with a sample group including teenagers, some of the online search words are anything but innocent. However, what is shocking is that “porn” is the 4th most popular search word among kids ages 7 and younger.
Amusingly, “Norton Safety Minder” is the 46th most searched for phrase among kids 18 and under. Search results include instructions on how to temporarily disable OnlineFamily.Norton.
BAD SEARCHES FROM THE TOP 100
by boys and girls (ages 18 & under)
#4 – Sex (#4 for boys & #5 for girls)
#5 – Porn (#5 for boys & #24 for girls)
#32 – Boobs (#17 for boys)
#82 – Pussy
TOP 25 SEARCHES
segmented by age groups
You can learn a lot about someone by what they search for online. These top search results paint a pretty clear psychographic picture of the priorities, preferences, and habits of online youth.
Kids and teens are obviously learning and experimenting with adult content much sooner than many parents, kids’ ministries, and youth ministries realize. As Time magazine reported early this month, 40% of adolescents have intercourse before ever talking to their parents about safe sex, birth control, or sexually transmitted diseases. Parents often dread giving their kids the sex talk(s), but studies show that kids want to learn from their parents. Instead, many kids learn about sex through friends, the Internet, and experimentation.
Parents sometimes say things more vaguely because they are uncomfortable and they think they’ve addressed something, but the kids don’t hear the topic at all.
- Dr. Karen Soren :: New York Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital
From a children’s ministry perspective, it is important to realize that statistically quite a few 7-year-olds in your class are searching for porn and exposing themselves to things much more serious than what traditional lessons cover. Obviously, children’s ministries cannot be straightforward about sex, but being too vague doesn’t work either.
Perhaps there are subtle ways to layer lessons with mature spiritual principles. Ideally, children’s ministry lessons should clearly yet subtly word things in a way that trains, helps, and ministers to the kids who are hurting and/or have picked up bad habits while simultaneously “going over the heads” and still teaching the kids who still have their innocence. Unfortunately, that is easier said than done.
- What do you think about these online trends?
- How can churches help?