Statistics shared by eMarketer revealed that: “75% of children are willing to share personal information online about themselves and their family in exchange for goods and/or services.”

Surprised? Well, as parents we ought to be more informed and prepared rather than shocked, if we need to protect our children from those paedophiles seeking access to children. As Michelle Nasir puts it: “When it comes to the ‘wild, wild, web’, there is no off-limits and nothing is too sick or twisted.”

The PTCL (Pakistan Telecommunications) has moved to block 1,000 pornographic sites. However, this is still a limited defensive measure. It is a painful fact that an alarming 60% of the estimated one million internet users in Pakistan visit pornographic sites. Adults and kids are equally a victim to the unscrupulous porn industry that is fuelled by billions of dollars. Thousands of internet cafes have sprung up in major cities and in remote areas. Youngsters spend hours surfing pornographic sites for as little as 15 rupees ($0.35) an hour.

Below are just a few successful strategies that are facilitating the pornography industry:

Pornographic cartoons – who do you think these are aimed at?

Misspelled domain names – anybody can make a typo.

Cyber Squatting – Pornographers often buy up commonly used domains with legitimate sounding names, which many people would assume are decent websites, but, in fact, are not.

Advertisements – often with photos, used on websites, which may not be pornographic, but are looking to do anything to make profits.

Unsolicited e-mails – by giving out personal information that is sold to people for a profit. This enables them to send e-mails offering products/services you have not requested.

Now we no longer need to visit an adult site. They come to us via junk mail. All we need to do is click on the mouse and there it is. And we thought checking mail was so innocent.

The question is: What needs to be done? Should we prevent ourselves, and our children from using the internet? Not really. The web is not all bad when used supervised and correctly. It can be an extremely powerful tool for education. Having said that, like any tool, we must approach it carefully, following all the rules, and understanding how it functions. Some helpful tips for parents and internet users in general, are:

  • Most importantly, if you own a computer – learn to use it. This will develop a sharing relationship with your kids.
  • Place your computer in an open room, so anyone walking by can monitor what is being worked on.
  • Anyone who surfs the web, uses chat rooms, receives and sends e-mail should be monitored. Make it obvious you are monitoring their online activities.
  • Make the rules crystal clear, they cannot delete any e-mails without your checking them. If you cannot read it, they should not be receiving it.
  • The kids should not be allowed to use the computer at odd hours of the day, when you are not around.
  • One of the most important steps to take would be to educate our youth, to lead by example, and to revive and adhere to our Islamic moral principles.

We must not accept lewdness as part of ‘being tolerant’, but raise a voice to end it. The government needs the help of the ISPs, the Internet café owners and the citizens. Make sure everyone in our homes is constantly reminded of Islamic morals and recognizes the evil that is porn. With a little effort on our part, the Internet can be a wonderful tool to explore the world Allah (swt) has created.