Wednesday, May 27, 2009

PSP Can Be a Free Gateway for Kids to View Online Porn (or Anything on the Internet)

I heard a story last week from a parent. I feel the need to share this as it was shocking to me and perhaps you should know about this.

First I need to explain that our family/our kids don’t own a PSP so when I heard this story I didn’t know this was possible. I thought a PSP was just a portable video game console. I was wrong, they have Internet viewing capabilities.

If you don’t know what a PSP is, it is a hand held video game device by Sony called Play Station Portable (users call it a PSP). For Christmas 2007 my two nephews (then aged 9 and 6) and my niece in another family (aged 10) received them as gifts from their parents. My boys envied them as it was a wide screen with the best graphics available at the time. My father-in-law felt bad that my kids didn’t have them when their cousins had them and were playing them in their presence with my kids looking on. Grandpa offered to buy them for our kids but my husband declined saying we didn’t want our kids playing video games at all or handheld video games, including when they were with family for holiday celebrations which we thought should be social time instead. The PSP was a popular gift for Christmas 2007 as I saw kids using them all over the place after that. Once a child owns a PSP their old Game Boys are often discarded.

So in my ignorance about the PSP I had no clue it could connect to the Internet. Apparently though I am not the only one. Other parents whose children DO own a PSP don’t know it.

The story I heard that happened to a friend of my friend goes that this family bought their son a PSP. He had it for some time. The family does not have wireless Internet in their home and they don’t know much about wireless Internet at all it seems. They did not know the PSP could hook up to the Internet. Suddenly the thirteen year old started locking his bedroom door and spending hours and hours in the bedroom alone. He played the PSP in the house and everywhere, using it more than normal (they apparently didn’t limit his time using the device). Then two things happened almost at the same time after two weeks of this behavior. One was that the boy was walking around holding the PSP out in front of him and walking randomly around in public places and at other people’s houses. The parents didn’t know why he was doing that. I can’t recall if they asked him what he was doing and he said, “nothing” or if they didn’t bother to ask. The final flag of what was really going on was when the father caught the boy masturbating while looking at the PSP screen (which seemed quite odd to him to do). It was then that the father figured out that:

1. The boy could access wireless Internet off of the neighbor’s account from his bedroom but no where else in the parent’s house and that is what he was doing behind the locked door.

2. Having discovered Internet porn he was glued to the screen viewing it for a solid two weeks and it explained why he had increased his time on the PSP.

3. While in public in his parent’s presence the weird walking around thing was the boy looking for a free wi-fi Internet access to get online while in their presence or while in the same room at someone else’s house. I guess since the parent’s didn’t have wireless Internet or use handheld devices like a Palm Pilot they didn’t recognize what it looks like to try to find a free Internet signal.

If people with wireless Internet do not put a password on it (such as your neighbors, your relatives or your relative’s neighbors or businesses), anyone can log in and access the Internet through their portal. Also know that some restaurants such as McDonald’s and Panera Bread offer free wireless Internet access that can be used not only inside their stores but also often from the parking lot. Kids could access free Internet at any of those places.

A neighbor of mine who knows nothing about the technical aspects of electronics paid thousands of dollars to get technical help in setting up their TV/stereo/Internet. That company did not put a password attached so frequently I have work trucks parked outside my house while employees use their Internet to surf the web using my neighbor’s portal.

The parents reported that to their knowledge there is no way to track browsing history via the PSP so there is no way for them to know exactly what kind of porn this boy has seen. I don’t know if this is true or not and I can’t find the answer online either.

I was curious if the PSP had parental controls and I did find on this site that yes, they do. This can be set so that the owner of the PSP cannot access the Internet anywhere unless they have the password. Here is the information to read more about that.

Although I am grateful for these helpful answers I note the writer first uses his platform to criticize parents by first suggesting the issue may be to limit the time their child spends using the PSP. I beg to differ. Buying a PSP for video game playing in what was thought to be a controlled, safe environment is a totally separate issue from trying to prevent a child from logging onto the Internet to access porn or any number of other age –inappropriate and/or illegal things (remember porn is supposed to be purchased only by people over age 18 yet this law doesn’t touch or help regarding the Internet). Limiting the time a child uses a PSP does not have anything to do with trying to prevent them from accessing inappropriate websites through free wireless Internet sources not controlled by the parents.


If you want more information about how to use the PSP to get on the Internet or want to see how easy it is, there are numerous YouTube tutorials on this topic. One is here.

Additionally the same helpful to parents article writer has a page on his site to help PSP users connect to other people’s wifi systems, here:


Kids Love You Tube

I note also that kids are YouTube savvy.

This weekend my cousin's husband said that her four year old watches You Tube videos by himself and discovers new videos by himself. I warned him about the feature that shows "videos being watched now" that can show nudity and porn images or as I've seen before, nude adults getting spanked. The thumbnail shows even when the video is flagged as mature content and cannot be viewed when it is clicked on. Also if an adult is logged onto their You Tube account and has it set so they can watch anything they want, a child using that account/that computer may accidentially be able to view porn or other mature flagged videos.

My niece who attends public school started telling me when she was in fifth grade (three years ago in the year 2006) that kids at school talk about YouTube all the time and shared which videos everyone was watching. Some that she showed me when she was in fifth grade contained profanity and sexual references. One that was viewed was what was supposed to be a joke simulation of anal sex but was really a finger on a bent knee/leg shot.

For two years some homeschooled kids have been talking to my boys about videos they saw. One boy who is a kid's friend who was in fifth grade who goes to school has his own YouTube channel with homemade movies he does starring he and his school friends.

My kids have been begging me to let them create videos for YouTube sharing but so far I have nixxed that.

Also another relative of mine who was nine years old has videos of him playing his guitar online with his full name showing (not good for privacy reasons). The video had information that could easily peg what town he resides in and also had the name of the summer camp he attended.

Yesterday my son and I were looking up a price on a toy that my nine year old wants to buy for himself and a YouTube video review of the item done by a kid of about 12 years of age was at the top of my Google search.

Another time my eleven year old was playing the 39 Clues game (target market kids age 9-12) and he was by a Google search to YouTube videos of kids talking about the game, sharing tips and giving out access codes to expand the free online play run by the publisher, the famous Scholastic! My point in sharing this is that kids know to go to YouTube to look for tutorials and information about the things they own or want to buy or how to expand on using things they already own.

Back to the PSPs and minor aged kids

It is easy to conceive that a child who owns a PSP will hear from their friends that the PSP is Internet connectable. Then a child who is Internet savvy can easy find directions online about how to connect their PSP to a wifi network.

Children as young as three are being given PSPs as gifts often from their parents, grandparents, or Santa Claus. Parents, I know that keeping up with technology is hard and not fun but I beg parents to investigate the options and capabilities of the electronic devices they CHOOSE to buy and put into their children’s own hands. I am sure that no parent would ever hand over pornography to their children or even their teenagers, but by handing them a PSP without parental controls enabled they are giving them a free gateway to possibly discover porn on their own.

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1 comment:

A Mac and a Mug O' Joe said...

Nintendo's new DSI has internet capabilities and a camera built in.

Thanks for the info.