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Today’s topic is NEAR AND DEAR TO MY HEART: keeping all children safe from pornography.
What? Why this topic now? At Christmas?
Yes. Now. ESPECIALLY NOW. Just think how many Christmas gifts will be given this year that have access to the internet.
Why should I care about “open access to the internet?” This is why:
I am a mother of eight, happily married to my college sweetheart. We are educated. We love our children and would do anything for them. And yet, in our home, our son Eric was exposed to pornography and eventually became addicted.
It was a long road, with many twists and turns, until he was able to become free.
As the mother of that kid, I know some of the pain and the intensity of that particular addiction. I know how casually our culture treats it.
I felt helpless for many years, which is why I now speak out to other parents. There is MUCH we can do to guide our children and the easiest way to do that is BEFORE the device is given.
Now, here’s the truth. As the mama bear, I go into full freak out mode when I think of kids and unfiltered electronics. I cannot understand the disconnect that parents have in this realm.
Until my son reminds me that I had that same disconnect.
Seriously. It is SO ODD to think back that far. But when I get quiet and recall where I was fifteen years ago, I just didn’t think my young child would be interested in anything sexual.
(If you are listening to this, you can hear Eric’s chuckle.)
Reality check for all the mothers out there. What age do you think I’m referring to?
Yes, Eric was exposed to porn at age ten and he was attracted to it.
So the truth? I never dreamed that my first born, at the tender age of ten, would be attracted to sexual images/videos.
Because I am now older and wiser, I know the truth. I get the attraction of this super stimuli. I know how hard the porn industry works at making it EASY to access their content. And I KNOW the devastation of addiction.
Armed with this knowledge, it seems rational and reasonable that I scream to parents,
“If you are going to give your child a device that connects to the internet, then for the sake of their soul, put a filter on the device!”
And that’s when my 25-year old son saunters into the picture. He disagrees with this messaging.
Eric and I have talked long and hard about this topic and guys, this is why I love working with my millennial son. He agrees that we must work hard at filtering devices, but he reminds me that there is more to this picture than just filtering.
We have to build into our children’s lives. We have to guide and direct their paths.
Yes, as the crazy mother bear, I want to teach parents ONE concept: If you are going to hand your child a device that connects to the internet, then you have to filter it. Period. End of story.
Eric knows porn is bad. But just putting a filter on a device is not enough. What’s out there on the internet (in the realm of porn) is worse than you think. So you need MORE than merely filtering.
So here it is:
Three Steps to Engage in When Handing Your Child a Smartphone (or any electronic device):
Take a moment and ask yourself: what scares me the most when I think of raising my child in this world? Pinpoint that. Then go there. Have the courage to really delve into that area. Face it head on. Through that process, you’ll become a real help for your child.
The reality: what’s out there, available to your children, is far more graphic and violent than you think. But the good news? As the parent, you are way stronger than you know. Not only can you deal with the scum of porn, you can improve this area (of sexual understanding) in your child’s life.
And that will naturally lead into step two:
Have the conversation. Talk in an authentic, meaningful way with your child. Let them know what you are afraid of. Ask them what they think of the internet. What do they love about it? What are their favorite YouTube channels? When they think of the negative parts of the internet, what comes to mind? Be willing to be totally open and totally real with your child.
Once you are on the same page,
Put filters on your child’s devices. No filter is perfect, but the role of a filter is to make sure the hard core terrible crap is not allowed into their sphere.
We recommend Covenant Eyes.
Know that filtering is not the only answer. In fact, when a child’s devices are filtered, it can give a false sense of security and calm.
From my mama’s heart: I love my Eric. I’d die for him. And knowing that he was caught in the undercurrent of this strong addiction TORE ME APART. A filter is a good thing. But realize that it is NOT the only step.
You gotta get into the relationship. You gotta show up for your child.
Have the best Christmas! Enjoy your family!
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