The internet is an amazing place filled with every type of media and information available! But this easy access can be terrifying for moms of curious children. Read on to learn about some pornography dangers and how we can best protect our families.
Today’s post is of a more serious nature but it’s one I’ve been brainstorming for a while now and feel very passionate about sharing. If we have internet access in our homes (and who doesn’t?) then we should be having conversations about pornography.
Let’s be honest, this is kind of a yucky-feeling topic. No conservative housewife wants to sit around chit-chatting about how people take their clothes off and film themselves for the benefit of other strangers on the internet. Gross!
But the fact is that it’s out there, it’s WAY too easy for anyone to access and we need to keep it out of our homes. If we’re not proactive in protecting our families, it WILL get in. It’s only a matter of time.
There is LOTS of information out there today on how pornography harms our kids, families and society but I found this article to be particularly helpful. It claims that some of the side effects of pornography on teen users are higher risk of teen pregnancy and depression, as well as a distorted and unhealthy view of sexuality during prime sexual development. This video is another one of my favorite resources for parenting against porn.
Kids are being exposed to pornography at younger and younger ages, too. This website states that the average age of first exposure is 11.
ELEVEN YEAR OLD, you guys. That is horrific. Have you ever asked your spouse when he first saw a pornographic image? My husband was about 11, and I distinctly remember my first exposure at the age of 14. The internet barely existed back then!
To add insult to injury, pornography is no longer just a “man’s problem”. More and more women and young girls are getting addicted to porn and experiencing the same horrible effects, especially depression, shame and promiscuity.
I’ve read and researched quite a bit about this epidemic and wanted to share some of the tools I’ve discovered to help keep it out of our homes!
Open the conversation with your spouse and kids
The tricky thing here is teaching kids to understand the evil behind these filthy images, without teaching disgust or guilt surrounding sexuality in general.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers regarding this one, but at our house, we talk about God’s gift of sex, bodies and natural curiosity, and teach that pornography is Satan’s perversion of these wonderful gifts. This way I’m hoping my kids will understand that they might feel curious or even aroused if/when they encounter pornography but that it’s the images that are evil, not their feelings.
Tricky stuff, mamas!
Keep the conversation going
Get in the habit of asking your kids and spouse regularly when the last time was that they encountered pornography…and then don’t freak out if they say something you don’t want to hear. Instead talk about where and when it happened, what they felt while they viewed it, as well as the feelings that came afterwards. Then ask for their suggestions on keeping themselves safe in the future. Finish up with a hug, a smile and reassurance that you love them no matter what.
This regular and non-judgmental dialogue will hopefully make it easier for everyone to stay honest and avoid the downward spiral of addiction and deceit.
Get a filter on EVERY single device
If the device can access the internet, then it needs a filter. We can no longer assume that because our kids aren’t searching for it, they won’t find it.
And talk to your kids’ friends’ parents about what the internet situation is at their house! There are marketing geniuses out there who are targeting our families and we have to fight back.
I recently spoke to a family therapist about this and she suggested a number of steps to keep our kids (and ourselves) safe:
- Get an internet blocker (like Qustodio) and install it on every desktop and laptop computer. Then remove all internet browsers from mobile devices and instead install a SafeSearch browser (here’s a list of 12 kid-friendly search apps).
- Get rid of YouTube on devices that kids can access. Did you know that there is no reliable way to filter videos on YouTube? Instead, try the YouTube Kids app so your littles can binge-watch their cake decorating videos safely.
- Develop a system for what you, your spouse and kids should do when they encounter something questionable online. Something like, “Shut Down (the computer), Walk (away), Talk (to a grownup)”. My parents even had a little mnemonic sign like this taped to their computer to remind users to stay safe.
- Keep all computers and devices in a common area of the house. Requiring kids to use the laptop or iPad on the kitchen table (instead of in a corner or bedroom) means that they’re much less likely to search for or dwell on objectionable content. The fact that anyone passing by can see their screen keeps everyone safer!
If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t
Motherhood ain’t easy but I firmly believe that we each have the special gift of inspiration or intuition that helps us keep our families out of trouble.
If someone you love is acting strangely, do some digging. Look at your home’s internet usage (is there a spike?), check out your family member’s browser history (is there a portion deleted?), check in on them when they don’t expect you (do they act guilty?).
I know some mothers hesitate to encroach on a spouse or teen’s privacy just because of a gut feeling, but if we don’t protect our homes, who will? It’s not a matter of trusting our family members (which I’m sure we all DO), it’s a matter of trusting the big wide world out there (which I definitely DO NOT).
Please email me if you have any other questions or concerns about this one, mamas. It’s a tricky subject but one I feel strongly about! I’d love to chat more if you have additional worries about these pornography dangers.
Stay safe out there and be sure to subscribe to the Outnumbered podcast…we’re talking about kids and cell phones in a few weeks!