For all you parents out there, please pay attention to this post as I am going to share something that is quite frightening, something, which you might be turning a blind eye to or are completely unaware could be taking place in your home. What is this horrible issue you might ask? Your child is almost assuredly being exposed to porn.
I hope that caught your attention. Now an understandable response is “That is impossible. We do not watch porn in our home and we ensure that no inappropriate programming is allowed.” I get that; however, your child is almost assuredly being exposed to porn. How can I make that claim? I can make it from personal experience.
In my home, we do not even have cable or satellite television. Late in 2014, we made the decision to view whatever channels we could obtain via an indoor television antenna. We also subscribe to Netflix and Amazon Prime which allows us to oversee and monitor what is viewed in our home. Even with those moves and this level of oversight, the ability to access porn remains. We are big users of mobile electronic devices, specifically the Amazon Kindle Fire HD. My wife has one. I have one. Our daughter has one. The good news is they are all connected to the same account and thus, we have the ability to monitor what has been viewed. It came to our attention that the filtering and parental controls on this device are insufficient when it comes to blocking unsavory content.
Our daughter likes to watch videos on YouTube that are about different ways to decorate her room. Even when she inputs a search for something completely benign, within a couple of clicks on various videos, more often than not, something perverted is available for the taking in the list of recommended viewing options. I hasten to imagine what would appear if our daughter searched for a meatloaf recipe.
After taking a look at the viewing history on our daughter’s Kindle, we noticed she had clicked on a number of videos that were far from something that glorifies God. We are convinced those viewing choices were not deliberate. Even still, it was disturbing, frightening, and disappointing all rolled into one bundle of emotions. This situation afforded us the opportunity to have a discussion with our daughter regarding godly and ungodly viewing habits and the reality that perverts in the world are preying on young people in an attempt to get them addicted to this type of material. Cleverly, those who peddle such perversion have purposefully tagged certain videos, which in turn results in their filth appearing as a viewing option even when the most innocent of search criteria is entered. Given the heart is exceedingly wicked and curiosity will often draw young minds to view such filth, the reality is your child will click on that garbage and will have their hearts and minds muddied by the grotesque and twisted waters of porn.
Outside of completely cutting yourself off from the outside world, what are the options for parents when access to porn is just a click away on any and every electronic device in your home? Is this a lost cause? Should parents just throw their hands up in defeat with the attitude that we cannot control everything our children do, so if they view such filth, we hope it is minimal at best? Or is there a better way, a more balanced approach that allows for access to technology yet ensures with the utmost care and oversight that our children’s viewing habits are not being drawn to the rotten garbage of porn?
I suggest throwing your hands in the air in a state of defeatism is not the answer. I also suggest that complete withdrawal from everything electronics related is not the answer. The answer is for parents to be parents, to provide guidance, oversight, and accountability for their children. Below are five ways to provide a needed covering to shield your children from porn. These five ways will provide opportunities to teach your children the difference between how to be holy in a world determined to suck your children into the dark side of pornographic addiction.
First, have an open and honest discussion with your children. When we discovered that unsavory material was being viewed by our daughter, we sat down with her and explained the dangers. We told her that it is our job to be the covering for her in all matters. This was not a yelling conversation. Make no mistake though, we told her that viewing such nonsense was wrong and that if we observed such viewing habits in the future, her access to the internet would be restricted. In addition to that, we used this opportunity as a teaching moment, a chance to help her better understand the world we live in and those who prey upon young adult minds. We talked with her about what godly behavior patterns are all about and the battle we all face with the temptation to walk down the path of unrighteousness.
Second, set the example. There is nothing worse that extolling the virtues of righteous living while you as parents do the complete opposite. If you are reading 50 Shades of Grey, stop immediately and burn that book. If you have inappropriate music and movies in your home that are not God honoring, destroy them immediately. Demonstrate to your children by your own actions what godly viewing habit are all about.
Third, utilize filtering software. This is something my wife and I will be exploring. Covenant Eyes does an excellent job from what I am told. Additional suggestions include using parental controls on devices such as iPads, Kindles, smart phones, and all other electronic devices. When you install such controls, make sure you discuss why you are doing this with your children. Ensure you have shared with them it is for their own protection.
Fourth, pray. It is of the utmost necessity that you pray for your children. We live in a world full of sinful people. As Christians, we are engaged against an enemy in Satan and his minions that has as their sole purpose in life, the destruction of your children. Do not turn a blind eye to that reality, thinking everything will be okay and that harm will never befall your children. Pray for your children and most importantly, pray with your children.
Fifth, be committed as a family to the reading of God’s Word. There is nothing better than turning off the television, shutting down the computer, or putting that gaming device on pause and spending time as a family reading, studying, and meditating on God’s Word. As the old saying goes – garbage in; garbage out. If we are feeding our minds and hearts with garbage, the desire for more garbage will be the result. Conversely, if we are filling our hearts and minds with the truth and light of God’s Word, we will be equipped as a family to identify truth from error. As parents in encouraging regularly Bible reading, you will be fulfilling your God given mandate to train up your children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.
Finally, this is a battle. Do not sit on the sidelines. Be active in the lives of your children by identifying what they are watching, what websites they are visiting, and what they are feeding their minds with regardless of the medium they are using. Talk with your children about the dangers of porn. The filth available to even the youngest of children today is addictive, destructive, and is within the reach of your children. Be aware, be active, and be godly parents. Your children deserve it and God commands it.
Michael lives in Belleville, IL, a suburb of St. Louis, MO with his wife Erica, adopted daughter Alissa, two cats Molly and Sweetie Pie and horse Beckham. After spending eight years in the United States Navy as a Yeoman, he has been employed for the past ten years by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) where he oversees advanced educational programs. Michael holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Religion (Biblical Studies) from Liberty University and is currently closing in on completing a Master of Arts in Religion (Biblical Studies) from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He is an avid reader and blogger.