I don't spend any time whatsoever worrying about what some other person's kid is doing on the internet. That is the parent's responsibility to monitor them. I am not a net nanny and don't want to be. I am not sure that a minor simply viewing NSFW material is going to do any real harm in most situations anyway. I am also not responsible about what other adults are doing with their private messages. That is for law enforcement to deal with. If I am not seeing it, it's not an issue for me, and by definition, I will have no idea what is going on in private messages. I am not going to attempt to imagine what others are doing with their private messages and then get all worried about what I just imagined.
TL;DR - Honestly, I don't think NSFW material being accessible by minors is a huge thing for me to be super concerned about.
EDIT: Also, I really don't post NSFW material myself so... If I did I would put a mature tag on it or something. Then stop worrying about it. I don't (usually) have overly sexual discussions with peoples in private notes. If I do, it's when I already am confident they are an adult (like if their account is over 6 years old).
I'm very sure I was an age when I technically shouldn't have been looking at this kind of stuff when I... kinda did. Like others have said, I applaud you for being thoughtful about this subject, but all you can really do (or SHOULD really do, IMHO) is label your work accordingly. I think you're also wise to steer clear of private messages with fans who are upfront (or unintentionally obvious) about being underage, more to save yourself grief than anything.
But beyond that, I truly don't think there's anything inherently wrong with teenagers consuming lewd content on the internet, provided it's nothing illegal or harmful to another human being. Teens are human beings who are probably a lot more tempted into bad behavior by their hormones than at any other stage of life. If your harmless art helps them find an outlet for that sexual energy that doesn't involve creating a baby (ironically) or getting a disease, you've done them and humanity in general a net positive. And if some kid who really IS way too young to be looking at adult art (not just "below 18," but truly almost a kid) finds and fixates on it, they have problems in their lives bigger than you can help them with as a stranger on the internet.
As long as you're thoughtful and ethical about how you "gate" your art (which you seem to be in spades), I think you should sleep soundly and guilt-free. Props for bringing the subject up!
Well... I have looked at lots of porn when I was a minor. I even started drawing fetish art when I was 15-16-ish. But I'm glad I waited until adulthood before sharing them.
Now the idea of me being commissioned to do NSFW art UNKNOWINGLY by a minor, is scary! It also does not help that some clients hide their identities. I guess I have no solution to this except putting in your TOS that you don't accept art commission deals with minors.
This isn't foolproof but you can edit and mark your artwork as Mature, if haven't already:
With internet being widely accessible these days, children are easily exposed to contents way beyond their age... The future generations will have to rely on active digital Parenting now more than ever.
I recommend protecting yourself. If you at all suspect a commissioner is underaged then you have the right to decline their request. Any commission you do take, you should save any conversations you have with the commissioner. This is so that if the person turned out to be underaged, you have evidence that your interactions with them were purely just you accepting a commission and nothing else.
DA used to have birth-dates in the profiles, and they were pretty good about age-gating, but I joined up on my main account in '06 (though this one's much newer) and the site is completely different now in terms of accessibility. I'm not a visual artist, but a writer, so DA is really the only solid option for me to get my stuff out there. I put hard tags on my more explicit stuff, and preface my stories with content warnings, but that seems to be all I can do. I just don't engage with the few I've encountered where I felt something was off... Sorry if I wasn't much help here buddy.
Eh, kids can get their hands on NSFW stuff if they're really determined enough, so it's not like this is an especially unique situation.
That said, there's stuff that you can (and should!) do to help prevent/reduce it if you're really worried. Here on dA, you can put mature tags on your stuff (and there are two different layers, so you can put the "strict" one on if you really want to ensure that extra step in there). On other sites (like tumblr), I know it's possible to flag your entire account as mature, which makes it harder for people to find (though I'm not sure how many sites have a feature like this, so I don't know if you can apply it everywhere / how to do it if so).
It's really nice of you to worry about your adult art falling into the hands of minors. As I see it, the only way you can prevent them from getting their hands on your art is by not making it (easily) available.
Like increase the barrier to get to your work, as in behind a paywall. But if a minor is able to personally finance his/her own "needs" on the internet without any parental guidance, there's not much going to be in its way of accessing it anyway.
This is the internet. If minors don't get access to *your* work, they *will* stumble over 'adults only' stuff somewhere else. That is just inevitable. Doesn't release adult content creators of their responsibility to do their utmost best to keep these kinds of content away from minors. But it's first and foremost the responsibility of parents to keep control over what their kids (can) see and do on the internet. Even then, at some point they will find a way to slip away from under that control.
As for private chats you suspect are with minors. That's a though one. If you have many chats, sticking to strictly commissions may cut you off from some social networking, but may be the price to pay, for what you do. On the other hand you could keep the conversation vague, don't go into details, keep it largely at "yes, no, maybe, thank you".
I agree with making it more difficult for minors to have access to my NSFW art, but I can only do so much...
Yes I always make sure to mark my work as NSFW, and hope the website that's hosting my doodles, will place the appropriate age barriers to scare of most minors,
but part of how I make money at the moment, is advertising myself as a porn artist on as many social media/art websites as possible, and getting commissions in order to pay for rent.
So limiting my work to only showing it on strictly porn websites, or putting all my uncensored work behind a pay wall, limits me in the amount of exposure my work gets to the older masses.
I always keep my commission conversations professional, and the rare accessions I do talk to fans outside of commissions, the conversation never goes past hobby chatter (Like favorite video games, or which anime character would make a good mother etc.)
Basically as a NSFW artist: when it comes to chatting with fans, I make it my personal rule to never delve into anything sexual, because even if I do ask for their age, they could always be lying
At the end of the day, who as a young teen never looked at porn before 18? I know I did, because I, like everyone else, was looking at my teachers cleavage when I was still 15 T.T'
Luckily my parents scared me enough on the horrors of underage parenthood, that I took my urges out on hentai (and women's tennis)
But still... with the internet more popular than it was when I was young, I must say: as NSFW content creators, we have to take a strict caution, and responsibility when it comes to engaging with our followers, because as far as I see it, it's the most we can do.
They shouldn't but it's not like there's anything that can be done about it. Their irresponsible parents spoil them and let them do whatever they want, and they'll fake their age so they can still do it anyway.
some of that stuff is tame, some of it can be seen in Japanese anime. naked and sexual acts not so much. guess to some if you're an artist, you park on mature content then that's suppose to make it okay. never ever would someone fake their age to be on a site...
that theory (ID to log onto net) is still a work in progress in the UK due to privacy/safety/other issues, doubtful it'll go any further than just a working theory. but there again people been faking things in Plato's Cave for so long it's when they start to believe the lies that's when it gets dangerous.
I don't hold any interest to that stuff, but there are those that do. the net is full of it, so that's that. I wouldn't want someone reading/watching something outside their age bracket, but when the parents start it, peers finish it off, there's really nothing anyone can do about it.