Personal Mobile Devices
"4 Things I wish Parents Understood
about Protecting their Children from Pornography"
societies across the globe become more and more accepting of
immorality, it can sometimes feel like protecting our families from the
onslaught of pornography is an insurmountable task. What can we do to
stem the tide? As a parent, I worry about the risk that my own children
will be exposed to pornography in spite of my efforts to protect them. I
applaud youth and adults everywhere who resist the pull of pornography
and find the strength to say “No!” when pornography knocks at their
door, or worse yet, when it barges into their lives totally uninvited.
I am confident that as we take extraordinary steps to protect our families from pornography, our children—and their future spouses—will one day thank us for keeping them safe during an extremely impressionable period of their lives.
Here are 4 things I wish parents understood about their responsibility to protect their children from the plague of pornography:
1. Home computers are no longer the main source of pornography for youth or children.
In my parent’s generation, pornography was something generally accessible only in magazine shops and adult movie stores located far away from the areas in which they lived. Later, the internet allowed pornography into our homes through the family computer. Parents have been repeatedly warned about keeping their family computers in open places and using effective filtering software on home computers. That wise counsel still applies today. Parents who are not using parental controls or filtering software on their home computers and laptops are unwisely putting their children at risk.
Today, parents need to realize that with the proliferation of personal mobile devices (e.g., smart phones, tablets, iPods), these mobile devices have become ground zero in the fight against pornography. For one thing, those who are trapped by pornography usually feel they can more easily conceal their online behavior if they use a personal mobile device to access it. Further, because these devices are small and personal and mobile, the act of reading or viewing inappropriate content is easier to hide. Mobile devices can be fun and useful, but it is critical that parents understand what it takes to make mobile devices as safe as possible against pornography (see #3 below)
2. Social media apps are the great Trojan Horse in the battle against pornography.
Social media platforms (e.g., Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook) have become some of the most popular uses of the internet because they help us stay connected with friends and family in ways that are fun and meaningful. For mobile devices, social media apps are especially popular. However, parents must understand that social media apps are also a Trojan Horse in the battle against pornography because they provide a virtually unlimited source of pornography to our children’s devices. An otherwise secure mobile device that does not have access to an unfiltered web browser or other unsafe apps can still be a danger to our children unless we take important precautions regarding how they use Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and other social media apps.
Most of these social media platforms officially claim to limit or block pornography, but the reality is they are unable and unwilling to monitor the enormous volume of content on their sites. The dangers for kids include that some well-known celebrities post profane and\or pornographic content on their social media profiles; these types of posts often appear in lists of the most popular posts of the day, which our kids can easily stumble onto. Other users deliberately make pornographic images easily searchable by including vulgar or pornographic hashtags with their postings of pornographic images and video clips. With just a few simple searches on social media apps, what was supposed to be a fun and innocent way of connecting with friends and family can become a clear and present danger to our kids. What is the solution? I don’t think removing all social media apps from our children’s devices is the answer; but I believe monitoring our children's social media usage and putting in place thoughtful limits are essential steps, as I explain below.
3. “Second only to your love, they need your limits.”
There may be no area of their lives where our children need our limits more than in establishing safe and appropriate boundaries with respect to social media and media generally.
Placing limits on our children is not related to a lack of trust in them. Instead, we are recognizing that limits can actually bless them and keep them safe. Some parents may ask, “If I have taught my children about the evils of pornography and the importance of true love and chastity, isn’t that enough to keep them safe?” My response is that unfortunately, it is usually not enough. Teaching moral doctrine is critical and essential, but even the strongest youth in solid Christian homes need to have the practical limits in place.
Here are a few fundamental limits I suggest for keeping your children safe:
4. Leaving the door of conversation wide open will make all the difference for your child.
If you haven’t discussed pornography with your children who are old enough to understand it, you need to have that talk now. Above all, it is critical to let your kids know that they can come talk with you any time they feel they have concerns about pornography. Your children need to know they will not be condemned or criticized or punished if they approach you about being exposed to pornography. If they are intimidated or afraid of talking with you, they will not come to you when they need help. Open the door and welcome the conversation when it’s needed.
Do not get angry with your children if they confess challenges or struggles with pornography. Praise them for being willing to talk with you. Then use the opportunity to teach and set additional limits. Encourage children and teens who are struggling to seek help from a religious leader or a professional counselor. Check in regularly with your children and give them opportunities to discuss how things are going or any concerns they have regarding pornography. As the communication lines remain open, you will have the power to influence your children and steer them away from the harmful dangers of pornography. (Source: 4 Things I Wish Parents Understood about Protecting Their Children from Pornography, by Nate Sharp, associate professor in the Mays Business School at Texas A&M University)