A young person’s experience of pirated content

A child's experience with streaming pirated content.

Hannah shares her experience of downloading and watching pirated content online and how her parents supported her in managing the associated risks.

How I watch most content

My usual viewing habits mainly include quite a bit of YouTube where I follow lots of content creators and then TV shows on online streaming services like Netflix and Disney+. For movies and sports, I use streaming platforms and occasionally satellite TV. I mainly watch content on my own laptop or phone but will watch things with family and friends a couple times a week on Apple TV or PlayStation.

Streaming pirated content

A lot of TV shows I watched were through illegal sites that I would find via Google search, and that was mainly TV shows in the US that obviously weren’t available here. I would find websites which were dedicated to a whole TV show so that I would watch through that, and occasionally if movies weren’t on Netflix or Disney+, then I’d watch it from a movie streaming site, and the same with live sports if they aren’t covered by a broadcaster. I mainly hear about these sites through friends and also just researching how to watch things myself.

Pirated content exposed me to inappropriate ads

When I was about 14, I was on a laptop from school and watching a show on an unofficial online site. A bunch of viruses were downloaded onto my laptop, which slowed the whole thing down – there were constant pop-up ads, making it irritating to try and work on the laptop. I was kind of scared at the time; I felt like I was going to get in trouble because it was a lot of pornographic ads.

I told my parents after a day or two because I tried to get rid of them myself, but I didn’t know how. My dad ran an anti-viral software on the laptop, which helped clean things up. He told me to make sure I didn’t do it again and to be careful in the future, and I have basically stopped watching things from these sites now.

If my dad hadn’t had the software already, that would have cost us money to buy and if the school found the damage, that would have been a bigger financial impact on us because of all of this.

My social media account was hacked

I also had trouble when I was 15 or 16 when I was watching something on my phone. Again, a bunch of ads popped up and the same problems happened due to me using a similar site from before. A few of my posts were deleted on my Instagram and then spam messages were sent out from my messenger to a bunch of people telling them they have “won a prize”.

I couldn’t get the Instagram posts back, and I had to go through my inbox and tell people not to click the links that were sent. I’ve definitely learned from the experience as it’s something that probably wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t stream content on unsupported sites.

Support from family and school

Luckily with my parents and the school, nothing too bad happened because I was so young. Obviously, there was a bit of embarrassment and worry that there would be some repercussions with it, but they just made sure I learned from it.

It’s kind of a shock to know you can be affected that badly, especially when you are young. It did feel odd to know that someone had been in my social media account; I made sure I changed all of my passwords.

I feel a bit annoyed at the people who hacked me and while I understand the ads, I don’t necessarily understand why they deleted my posts on Instagram. It’s just really annoying and a massive inconvenience. I mainly hold myself responsible though because it’s a pirated website, so I’m at fault for it; I’m the one who did something illegal.

I’m definitely more willing to pay for things I want to watch rather than view pirated content as it’s not the best for the people who actually made the content, and I know that there is a reason that the content is not available sometimes.

Resources

Explore the dangers of consuming pirated content.

Visit The Dangers of Piracy advice hub for more support

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