A Trojan horse refers to the use of deceptive means to distract and ultimately defeat unsuspecting opponents. You will recall the story: “A huge, hollow, wooden horse was constructed for the Greeks to gain entrance into Troy during the Trojan War. The Greeks, pretending to desert the war, sailed to the nearby island of Tenedos, leaving behind Sinon, who persuaded the Trojans that the horse was a gift from them to offer to Athena (their goddess of war), and it would make Troy impregnable. Despite the warnings of Laocoön and Cassandra, the horse was taken inside the city gates. That night, Greek warriors emerged from it and opened the gates to let in the returned Greek army”. So it was that Troy was defeated (https://www.britannica.com/topic/Trojan-horse).
For those who are unaware of what Wattpad is: it is an online social-reading website which allows aspiring writers and voracious readers a platform to both write and read stories from various genres. While it offers some harmless reading material, there are also aspects that remind me of a Trojan horse: it is quietly and busily corrupting and devouring the minds of the most vulnerable in our society – the youths. This is occurring while many parents/adults, quite unsuspectingly remain on the periphery looking on, thinking everything is fine. After all, “my child” has finally picked up the commendable leisure activity of reading, and to add icing to the cake, it costs absolutely nothing – a welcome factor, especially in this financially-challenging season. The cost, however, is dependent on what you are judging it against… finance or morality.
DOES IT REALLY COST NOTHING?
Wattpad users have to be 13 years or older to register and gain access. Entry is pretty simple and one can immediately start reading from a wide range of books. Sounds innocent enough. What could possibly be wrong with that? Nothing! At least not from the riverbank looking in. The problems begin to surface however, when one gets to the “riva bottom” and begin to browse and dig into the proposed offerings. Grammatical and spelling errors are the blessed lesser of the evils when compared to the plethora of disturbingly inappropriate content at children’s fingertips. Although Wattpad offers lots of ‘safe’ reading material and investors can scout the platform for talented writers, there is also a dark side – this is the focus of my discourse.
Internet Matters, which provides parents and professionals with the most “comprehensive and credible resources, information and support to keep children safe online”, writes, “Some categories [on Wattpad] are age-appropriate for children and some are not, which children can easily access. Categories range from adventure and LGBTQ+ to fan fiction and romance with different types of content in each. There is also a ‘New Adult’ category which contains erotic, relationship and romance stories with titles such as ‘booty call’ and ‘I slept with my stepbrother’ along with ‘smut’ stories containing sex and inappropriate language. There are various settings to help manage what young people see so they can stay safe on Wattpad” (https://www.internetmatters.org/hub/news-blogs/what-is-wattpad-a-breakdown-for-parents/#what-is-wattpad)
A search conducted from both a 13 and 16-year-old’s access shows similar results of readings/books that are so inappropriate in content, it is downright frightening! Children can easily traverse Wattpad’s dark side: explicit sexual content, murder content, alternate sexual lifestyle content, even demonic literature such as stories centered around “Incubus” and “Succubus”. Interestingly, these are similar content as would be available through the access afforded to adults.
The proliferation of Wattpad is widespread, especially among our youths. It is an “in thing” with teens in Jamaica and indeed the rest of the world. Why wouldn’t it be? It is basically free access to porn and all sorts of other inappropriate content which bypasses the scrutiny of many parents. All the safe and unsafe stories on this site are available to anyone with a computer or mobile device. Filters are very lax so children can gain access to quite a bit of “adult” … or rather, “extremely disturbing and inappropriate” content; the kind of which children have no place being exposed to, especially explicit sexual content that research proves can lead to a desire for increased stimulation, premature sexual interactions, and confusion about sexuality in children, to name a few.
INCREASE IN CHILDREN’s DELIVERANCE SESSIONS!
Some young and older children who have ‘travelled’ to Wattpad’s dark side have ‘returned’ fatally wounded. They have fallen prey to spiritual attacks that require “deliverance” intervention by pastors and other deliverance ministers!
Parents, take heed and monitor the sites to which your children have access. How strong are the levels of control on these sites? Reading is good, but not all reading is appropriate or edifying. You would never enter a bookstore and purchase inappropriate literature for your children, nor would you allow them to borrow same from a library. Do not then sit by and allow their vulnerable minds to be contaminated by a Trojan horse. Know what your children are exposed to – take interest, patrol, and check for yourself. If your child has a Wattpad account, conduct a quick look and search through the materials they can view. Be warned, however: have your blood pressure, headache and even heart medication on hand!
Wattpad is not as safe as it should be for children. An avenue for the creative mind, it is also an outlet for the destructive mind. Consider the cost.
WHY I WROTE THIS ARTICLE
I was once an avid Wattpad reader, until shortly after I got saved, a little over seven years ago. At the time, God took me through a process of cleansing from all the content I had consumed on this website through ignorance. Then as I traversed the college journey, I began realizing the popularity of Wattpad among the youth population in college and high schools. Most of them, including those from Christian backgrounds, had extensive knowledge and exposure to the content on this website. This I found to be quite disturbing, based on my knowledge of how morally and spiritually corruptive some of the material on this website can be. I then engaged in further research to identify how extensive the reach of this site was, with the aim of warning parents and youths of the dangers.
It has been more than three years now since I wrote this article. The content has gotten even more disturbing and is still readily available to children as young as 13-years-old. It is my hope that this article will cause parents and youths to become vigilant in identifying and avoiding subtle, corrupting influences such as some of the material promulgated on Wattpad.
Contact Kayon Rodney at: email@example.com.