How Can I Prevent My Child From Seeing Porn?

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How Can I Prevent My Child From Seeing Porn?†

recent study conducted by the NSPCC ChildLine found that a tenth of 12 to 13-year-olds fear they may be addicted to pornography. That’s right, a whopping 10% of kids who just started 7th grade are saying they are already watching porn to the point where they are concerned and don’t feel like they can stop. Why is this happening, and why at such an early age? It’s all about accessibility and desensitization.

Children, it seems, are finding, absorbing and becoming addicted to porn at historically unprecedented rates.  Why?  Many reasons, I’m sure.  One reason is the sheer accessibility of porn through the web.  We haven’t seen the full assault of the outcomes this will produce in our society.  But already we are seeing that about one in five children ages 12 and 13 years old think there is nothing wrong with porn.  Studies show that many in the younger generation believe porn is more immoral than failing to recycle.  That’s right: throwing your plastic fork in the trash can is MORE immoral than watching porn.

Here’s the deal: your children will – at some point – be exposed to porn.  The question is, for we who are parents, ‘what can we do to help prepare them for and prevent them from getting addicted to porn?’  I have three children who, are at this time are ages 15, 16 and 18.  I know this struggle well and deeply.  I am going to give you a few suggestions that may help you in your quest to keep your kid and our world free of porn.

  1. Don’t over react. When you discover that your child has been or is actively viewing porn, take a few minutes and absorb the reality.  You will, no doubt, experience a wide range of powerful emotions.  I know my wife and I did.  Our oldest son was introduced to porn at the age of ten.  He was given pictures by a classmate during school.  We freaked out and that didn’t help.  Remember, your child probably stumbled into this or was introduced to it through no fault of his/her own.

Viewing porn has likely caused emotions to stir and desires to fire inside of them that they are unable to process.  In other words, they are already dazed and confused from the experience.  The last thing they need is a parental unit to double down on the reaction and drive them into a state of panic or emotional shut down.  By the way, if you have already over reacted, take heart.  Many of us have and do over react.  Just begin to implement some of the steps in this post and learn from others who have walked the road you now walk.  Take a minute.  Talk to your spouse or a close friend or family member.  Develop a strategy that is drenched in love and generosity.

  1. Keep lines of communication open. If we overreact, we shut them down.  If we under-react, we send all sorts of nonverbal messages that produce unintended and often unhealthy consequences. So, typically, Melissa and I begin by exploring what we find, discover or has been revealed.  This commitment to exploration is a great asset in building bridges of communication and commitment.  A commitment to exploring prevents false or partially true accusations and provides room for our children to develop healthy responses to situations that are beyond their reach, so to speak.

The goal is to build bridges, not erect walls.  Open lines or pathways of communication are possible because of the bridges we have built and are committed to building.  Communication requires engagement with our children and provides opportunities take joy in the lives our children are living.   Open lines of communication mean that we ask questions – often too many in their minds – and we create space to sit and listen.  Open lines of communication mean that we strive and hope to react with appropriate emotional responses.

  1. Establish fair but firm boundaries – or ‘safe zones’ – regarding technology. I would suggest that you develop – with your children – some mutually agreed upon boundaries even as you reserve the right to implement one or two from on high, as it were.  Boundary development will take time, energy, grace and fortitude (remember: once you implement them, you need to abide by them), but it’s well worth the investment.  Here are a few suggestions for you:
    1. No technology behind closed doors. Especially the bedroom and bathroom.  Have you been wondering why your thirteen year old spend so much time in the bath room these day?
    2. Lock social media apps at certain times during the evening. You also need to be aware of every app your child is using.
    3. Passwords must be shared with you and you are free to access the device at any time.
    4. No deleting of messages or history.
    5. _____________________________
  1. Be honest and transparent about your own struggles and/or use of technology. I got hooked on porn at a young age.  Even today, two decades into my life free from this addiction, I have accountability software on all my screens and devices.  My wife has access to everything I do and knows all the passwords I use!  When my children discovered my journey and the struggle I had/have, they became far more open to sharing their struggles and revealing their problems to both Melissa and I.  When they realized that I ‘play by the same rules’ they play by, they became more open to the boundaries and safeguards we instituted.
  1. Know your children’s friends and their friend’s family! This is crucial and often ignored.  Take time to get to know your kids friends and their family.  Have them over for dinner.  Meet the parents at the mall for ice cream.  Whatever you do, do NOT allow your children to spend unaccountable hours in the home of people that you don’t know and have no authority over.  When you meet a kid, if your spider senses start tingling, hit the brakes – you are probably right.  Have them over and invite them into your home a few times before allowing your son or daughter to go to their house.  This is basic parenting 101.  Talk about your concerns with your child and see if they have noticed something as well.  In all likely hood, they haven’t.  They will probably disagree with you and argue against your decision to hit the brakes.  They may say mean things, intended to harm you.  But you know what?  One day they will no longer be a ‘know it all teenager’.  They will – one day – be parents themselves.  Your decisions to act in the best regard for your child today is going to help them act in the best regard for your grandchild tomorrow.  Be involved!

Hopefully you will find some or all of these suggestions helpful.  I’d love to hear some steps you have taken in your effort to keep you kids free from porn.

On a final note.

Not to sound too terribly alarmist, but porn addiction is a global epidemic that is quickly approaching pandemic levels.  We cannot ignore it or wish it away.  The porn industry is well funded and highly connected to some of the most influential leaders in our country.  While you may not be a porn addict, we are a nation of addicts.

Engage in this battle.

Begin in your home.

Seek help to overcome your failures and share your successes with me!

I don’t know many things, but I do know this:

If we don’t end porn, porn will end us!

Disrupting to Renew!

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†Originally published on the Men Against Porn website.

About Bizgainey

Learning to hear the gentle whisper of God loosed in the rushing waters of life
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