Monday, December 23, 2013

How to Keep Porn Out of Your Child's Hands

In two days, tweens and teens across the country will be receiving all sorts of electronic devices under the tree which their parents barely know what they are capable of. For some, it will be their first ever experience with porn. Why? Because if it's not a laptop or PC, many parents have absolutely no clue that the device they just gifted to their children has direct access to the web, with no filters, granting them direct access to pornography.

Before I continue, I'd like to share a video I saw at church recently. This is actually a secular video, showing the problem is NOT just something that Christians are concerned about.

We Need To Talk... from Fight the New Drug on Vimeo.

My awareness of the porn problem was heightened when I learned recently that a teen instructed his friend on how to disable parental controls on his phone AT CHURCH. So it's very important to start the conversations earlier than you think, and for reasons you may not expect. And don't forget to talk to your girls... they are doing unimaginable things and getting addicted to pornography as well. 

With gaming systems, your best bet is to use the appropriate built in parental control tools as well as monitor your child's use (and make sure they didn't disable the controls). These systems will likely be installed and kept in your home. How about your children's friends' homes? Have a conversation with these parents to see what the level of acceptance is and you might be shocked to find a parent that is completely oblivious to the gaming system's capabilities. Even worse, you might discover a "boys will be boys" mentality that makes you want to run for the hills. They are out there. Trust me.

In my opinion, the worst offenders are the mobile devices that kids can take with them wherever they go, without you over their shoulders to make sure their use is clean. THAT is where things get dicey. That's where Covenant Eyes comes in. While it can still be used at home on Windows 7, Vista, and XP PCs, as well as Mac computers, it can also be installed on iPhone®, iPod touch®, iPad®, and Android™ phones and tablets (like Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD).

Covenant Eyes is a popular product used by many Christian men to hold themselves accountable. Once it is installed, a friend, wife, parent, or mentor can receive emails showing everywhere the user went on his system, and everything s/he searched for. You can use this same product for your children's devices, and make yourself his/her accountability monitor. I have been receiving emails every three days (you can set the frequency) about my son's internet usage and it is very thorough. It will even detect if your child has attempted to navigate around the system.

Perhaps your child wanted that iPod touch® SO bad so he could listen to music. Just because their intent is innocent does not mean that giving them that tool can't turn into a disaster rather quickly. What if your 10 year old takes his to church where he encounters a 12 year old who wants to show him what it will do? Just because you are having conversations with YOUR child, don't assume everyone is. MOST are not.

The porn problem is going through the roof. If we don't protect our children while we have them, they ARE getting access to pornography. Addictions usually start at an early age. Talk to your kids, let them know the expectations, and do your best to prevent porn from getting onto their screens. Also, if your child has a school issued laptop or iPad®, don't assume there are any parental controls installed. I found out the hard way that ours had NOTHING installed when we used a virtual homeschool for two years.

Here is more info you might be interested in:
The Porn Problem sermon at Riverlawn Christian Church
Covenant Eyes 2013 Pornography Statistics Report

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