7 Apps Where Kids Have Access to Explicit Content

Keeping kids safe from explicit content

Words by
Jackie Baucom

JAN 10, 2024

7 Apps Where Kids Have Access to Explicit Content

Keeping kids safe from explicit content

Pornography is prevalent in our society, and increasingly more accessible. As parents, we rely on internet filters and parental controls to protect our children. We can talk to kids about pornography in open and honest ways.

Knowing which apps and websites have easy access to explicit content, and how kids bypass these filters, can help you protect your child better.

sensitive content icon

Apps with Hidden Pornography

We often hear about the dangers of social media. However, there is a misconception among many parents that parental controls on phones will completely protect their children from harmful content.

Parents are working against a powerful system. Sites that distribute pornography advertise on social media.

The length of time a viewer spends on a piece of content, even how long they pause on an image, gives social media algorithms insight into our hidden interests. The app then uses that data to feed our kids similar content in greater quantities. 

Kids are smart and tech-savvy, so they can learn to bypass parental controls. Here are seven apps where kids can be exposed to explicit content and ways they avoid being found out.

spotify icon


Spotify is the most downloaded music app. Many parents don’t realize that Spotify is actually a full-service platform where users can access music, podcasts, audiobooks, and music videos. 

Sexually explicit podcasts

Sexually explicit album covers and music videos are nothing new, but these inappropriate images and videos are accessible on a music platform available to children. 

Podcasts are popular through Spotify. Many are sexually explicit, not only with discussions involving mature content, but with moans, groans, and sound effects to depict sexual activity.

Anyone can create content

Spotify is not only a place for chart-topping artists. Anyone can create content for the platform, meaning explicit digital content is constantly uploaded and made available to children.

Uploading the content must be done through a hosting service, which is easily done, with Spotify even having a list of partners they recommend. These amateur artists contribute to the more than 60,000 tracks added to the platform a day.

grand theft auto five

Grand Theft Auto

This video game series has been around for over 25 years, with 7 main games in the series and more than 370 million copies sold.

Each version varies in content, but all game console versions are rated M for mature by ESRB. The app versions of the game are all rated 17+ years old.

Still, many young children play Grand Theft Auto. The protagonists are all criminals who steal cars, go on crime sprees, and even pick up prostitutes. 

This game promotes the objectification of women and portrays sex as a commodity.

In December 2023, Netflix released three different Grand Theft Auto mobile games. Anyone with a Netflix account has free access to play these games through a mobile device. Netflix games are not available on kids’ accounts. Parents can set parental controls on Netflix through a browser and add a PIN to lock adult accounts.

Prostitution in Grand Theft Auto

Sex workers line the streets at night and players are able to pick them up. The prostitute provides services in exchange for money, and the player can murder the sex worker afterward in order to retrieve the payment. 

In older versions of the game, a rocking car was seen from a distance. Now players can watch sexual encounters or role-play them.

Shockingly, it has evolved to a pornographic experience where the player becomes the character receiving the sexual services from a first-person angle, complete with sexual moaning sounds. 

Strip clubs

In a few versions of Grand Theft Auto, there is the option of visiting a strip club. Visiting the club and getting a lap dance is necessary to complete the game and receive a trophy. Sex workers are clad in lingerie and some topless. Players can control the protagonist to touch the strippers, or take them home.


tiktok icon

TikTok is the most used social media network by minors. Experts report that children spend an average of 91 minutes daily on the app. During all this time, kids can easily be exposed to pornography in the following ways.

Explicit content

While scrolling through the ‘For You’ page—a TikTok area where users can explore and watch videos uploaded by strangers—kids may encounter pornography and explicit content.

Our employees saw explicit images within 10 seconds of scrolling this page. 

A spokeswoman for TikTok said the app has no way to differentiate between videos shown to adults versus videos shown to kids.

Explicit hashtags

Searching TikTok hashtags is also a common way to access pornography.

As a method of bypassing control algorithms, hashtags can seem perfectly innocent or be intentionally misspelled. For example, #orangeyoutube is actually code for Pornhub and won’t be flagged as inappropriate.

Search history deleted

TikTok makes it easy for kids to clear their search history. 

Nearly 40% of Gen Zers prefer using TikTok and Instagram over Google when performing online searches.


User history is available for seven days, but users can turn this feature off or delete it entirely. Once it is deleted, parents have no way of knowing what their kids have been explosed to on the app.


instagram icon

Instagram is a popular photo-sharing app that lets you connect with nearly anyone. As such, pornography is easy to find using hashtags and within user profile URLs.

Indecent guidelines

Instagram’s Community Guidelines allow nude photos if certain parts are covered or blurred. Although explicit images considered art are marked and only available to individuals over 18, it is easy to lie when creating an Instagram account. Many photos makes it past these guidelines.

Search history

Kids can also delete their search history and interactions (which include comments or image likes) on Instagram’s Your activity page. Once it’s deleted, it’s gone for good.


snapchat icon

Snapchat is popular among teens for its fun filters and disappearing snaps (photos and videos sent within the app). 

Vanishing content

The function allows kids to share explicit images, including nudes, with the hope that the images will disappear once they have been viewed. This is not true in reality, since the receiver can take a screenshot before the image disappears.

59% of users have received unsolicited nudes on Snapchat.

-Survey Monkey

Since snaps disappear, parents can be completely unaware of what their child is seeing on Snapchat.

In addition to explicit content, Snapchat’s disappearing features make it a breeding ground for cyberbullying.

X (formerly Twitter)

twitter x icon

X (formerly known as Twitter) is an online news and social networking site where people communicate in short messages called posts.

X’s media policy (as of March 2023) states that users, “can’t include graphic content or adult nudity and sexual behavior within areas that are highly visible on X, including in live video, profile, header, List banner images, or Community cover photos” (emphasis added). This includes “full or partial nudity, including close-ups of genitals, buttocks or breasts.” Despite this policy, objectionable material is still viewable within user’s feeds on the platform. The policy also allows exceptions on nudity and sex in “artistic, medical, health or educational content.”

Part of what makes pornography easy to find on X, despite the policy, is the use of hashtags. Users can track other users and content through hashtags, making objectionable material easy to find even if not posted to those “highly visible” areas on X.


Trending hashtags on Twitter often get hijacked by spammers and contain pornography. [1]

Hashtags are where the porn is.

-Protect Young Eyes

Since X functions as its own search engine, kids can use it to access pornography often undetected. Searches within X will not appear when parents search web browsers for explicit content.


pinterest icon

Known for its pinned boards with inspirational crafts and decor, Pinterest is another app that kids can use as a search engine. Just like Twitter, these explicit searches are not found when parents comb the history of their web browsers.

Codewords for pornography

When searching for an explicit word directly, you will receive a message stating “Some nudity is okay for Pinterest, some isn’t.” However, searching for codewords will reveal suggestive images. 

For example, #boudoir will bring up images of women in lingerie and sexually suggestive poses. While technically there are no fully nude photographs, these publicly available images are still not appropriate for children.

Some nudity is okay for Pinterest, some isn’t.

—Pinterest Search Message

Although Pinterest uses technology and human review to filter out some intentionally explicit content, some images still make it through.

The Effects of Pornography on Young Minds

Pornography can be damaging to the developing brain. It can affect young people’s relationships, sexual development, and general well-being.

young hands typing on a keyboard with the letters for porn in red

Objectifies human beings

All pornography objectifies women, men, and children as commodities to be sold and consumed. Explicit content often depicts women as submissive or abused, including a frightening category of “rape porn” fantasizing about sexual abuse.

This can result in unrealistic expectations about sexual performance, the normalization of abuse, and a distorted view of consent.

Diminishes relationship satisfaction

Significant pornography consumption in youth can diminish self esteem and reduce relationship satisfaction. Further, their time spent alone with a screen has negative social and academic consequences.

While this may sound frightening, please know all is not lost if your child is viewing pornography. There are ways to help your child discussed later in this article.

Encourages lying

To avoid getting in trouble, kids hide their activities when they feel ashamed. Maintaining secrets increases shame, resulting in lower self-esteem. [2]

Some kids worry that if their parents find out about their online activities, they will lose their phone or internet privileges. Consequently, many become experts at deception.

a father speaking seriously to his son while holding hands

How Can Parents Help?

Laws trying to ban pornography have continually failed to pass because of infringement upon First Amendment rights. Pornography is here to stay, but there are ways parents can help their children withstand the onslaught.

Accept curiosity

Most kids who initially seek out pornography do so because they are intrigued. Curiosity about bodies and sex is not deviant behavior, but rather normal part of human development.

We can best protect our children by having uncomfortable conversations without shaming them into hiding their natural curiosity. 

Remove Shame

Do all you can to remove guilt from the narrative of pornography use. Shame is a risk factor that is associated with poorer recovery and increased risk of mental health conditions.

Self-forgiveness can be an antidote to shame and reduce negative experiences. [3]

Most data suggests that the average age of first exposure to online pornography is between 9 and 11.

-David French, The Atlantic

Sex education can help satisfy children’s curiosities and prevent them from seeking answers on the internet, which will inevitably expose them to pornography.

Have open conversations

Talking to our kids about sex and pornography often and openly is vital to their well-being. Though it may seem awkward at first, you are your child’s best teacher, not the internet.

Kids need to know that parents are a much better source of information about sex than Google.

When talking with your child, avoid labels such as addiction. Labeling a young person as an addict can have serious implications, and pornography viewing does not automatically mean a person is addicted.

If you suspect your child has a diagnosable porn addiction, seek professional help for more guidance on how to help.

How to CHAT About Pornography with Kids

  • C – Correct terms used when discussing body parts
  • H – Healthy exchanges of affection look nothing like pornography
  • A – Ask open-ended questions about what they already know
  • T – Take charge of the narrative

Reading a book together such as Good Pictures, Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids can really open up conversations that feel more natural. For younger audiences (ages 3-6+), consider Good Pictures, Bad Pictures Jr.  

There is Hope

If your child is viewing pornography, you are not alone. There is hope. Staying calm and removing shame are keys to helping your child feel comfortable talking to you so you can help them.

As needed, reach out for professional help while continuing to support and love your child through it all.

Moving Forward

As parents, we can control the narrative when it comes to pornography. We have the knowledge and experience to guide our children through this difficult topic.

Speak confidently to show your child that you feel comfortable taking about sex and pornography. This will help them open up without shame.

Don’t want to have to worry about apps with pornography on your kids’ devices? Check out Gabb’s safe phones and watches for kids.

Are there any apps we missed? Let us know in the comments!


  • Tolman on Dec 23, 2023 09:35 AM

    Etsy is also a dangerous site for pornography

  • Gabb on Dec 29, 2023 02:16 PM

    Thank you for helping to educate!

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