top of page

Protecting Children at the Device Level

One of the most pressing issues when it comes to pornography, is the fact that children have easy access to explicit images. The Institute for Family Studies (IFS) has taken special interest in this issue. They have decided that the best way to limit children’s access is to start with the devices (smartphones and tablets) they are using. They have developed a policy brief, endorsed by The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) and Protect Young Eyes (PYE), in which they “present the current harms to children caused and facilitated by smartphones (and tablets) and the app stores they host, driven by Big Tech companies’ financial incentives that misalign with the welfare of kids.” They also “present several possible solutions for lawmakers and industry leaders to implement, which ensure devices and their app stores are safer for children and bring much-needed accountability” (Morell and Toscano, 2023).

The authors, Clare Morell of the Technology and Human Flourishing Project and Michael Toscano of the Institute for Family Studies, quickly begin by explaining the big issues. What they’ve found is that companies (mainly Apple and Google) have not prioritized children’s safety on technology. They even cite examples of the way we’ve made “toys, food, playgrounds, medications, furniture, clothing, television, and radio…safe for children to use or consume” (Morell and Toscano, 2023). They propose that certain steps need to be taken by federal or state policymakers and industry leaders. These include requiring age verification when the device is set up, requiring default safety settings (filters, accurate age-rating systems, etc.) to be automatically enabled and easier to find, and amending already existing laws to hold companies responsible for harms to children (Morell and Toscano, 2023).

There is not time to cover the entire 21-page brief here, but it is equally important to talk about the ways in which you can support this. You may agree wholeheartedly with all of the authors’ ideas, and desperately want the lawmakers and industry leaders to take action. How could we get them to do that? Well, a simple way is to write a letter. It’s easy to simply search local representatives in your district or state online and send even a simple email. Every communication with them, and with federal leaders, makes a big difference and can help raise lawmakers’ awareness. If talking to people in high places is uncomfortable to you, rest assured that even spreading the word among your friends and on social media platforms can be a huge help. You’re bound to spread the word to someone willing to write to a leader.

If you live in Idaho, you can educate yourself about and show support for Senator Kevin Cook’s Child Protection Bill. This bill aligns with the goals of the IFS policy brief and will be voted on in the upcoming 2024 Idaho Legislative Session. You can read more about and even sign your name in support here.

In conclusion, no matter what you choose to do in support of these ideas, remember that “there is no one silver bullet solution to recommend. Rather, a serious approach to addressing these problems will require comprehensive action at multiple levels. If nothing else, this is an opportunity for lawmakers, attorneys general, and even Big Tech itself to do the right thing” (Morell and Toscano, 2023).

To read more about the brief, visit:


Morell, C., Toscano, M. (2023, November 16). Making smartphones and app stores safe for kids: Federal, state, and industry measures. Technology and Human Flourishing.

Photo Credit: Pexels



bottom of page