Yesterday’s post was about the issue of pornography in the life of a preteen. It is a growing issue that churches need to be addressing with parents to better equip them for that battle. The post generated some requests for resources and strategies, so I’m going to do my best. I know that there are lots of helpful articles and sites out there, so I encourage you to search. My advice is simple, but I feel like it is effective.
1. Make it Public
A huge step towards protection for families is to move all computers to the family room. Usage of computers behind closed doors is always dangerous, for adults and kids. By moving usage to a more visible place, you will be able to monitor the how much time your kids spend on the Internet and the sites they are visiting. This goes for mobile devices as well. Parents don’t think of these devices, but they are becoming the primary source of pornographic material for kids. Get together as a family and set some rules for the time and place of computer use.
2. Set Boundaries
It is important that you monitor the use of computers, but that’s still not enough. Things still happen. When and if they do, don’t you want to know about it? Set up some protection by installing Internet software on your computers. It’s pretty amazing how far some of these programs have come over the years. They will now block inappropriate movie clips, inappropriate Youtube videos, websites, and Internet searches. Some great resources for this are X3 Watch Pro, Safe Eyes, or Covenant Eyes. There are some free versions of these programs, but the few dollars a month are worth the extra protection, which includes mobile devices. It is also advisable to block known “problem sites” in your internet options. By adding such sites to a blocked list, you can ensure that no user will access the site content.
If you’re a Mac user, there is also a way to set a “white list” in your Internet settings. If you assign your child a user account, then you can make a list of websites that they are allowed to visit, and only those sites will be accessible. I’m sure that there is a similar feature in Windows.
With all the protection and boundaries set, it’s still imperative that you communicate. Keep an open line of communication with your child. Bring up the issue of pornography and ask if they have experienced any of the images. It may be necessary to get further help if they have already been exposed to inappropriate material. Make sure that the communication between you and your child is constant. There is no such thing as over-communicating. Keep talking to your child and assuring them that they can talk to you if they have received pornographic material on their computer or phone.