Protecting Youth From Pornography

Here’s a big, ugly word: Pornography…

But in today’s world, maybe it’s not said enough — it’s the big ugly elephant in the room that feels awkward to talk about, yet it’s beginning to consume our culture… Not convinced?† Here are some disturbing statistics:

25% of all search engine requests are pornographic.
Average age a child fist sees porn online: 11
35% of all Internet downloads are pornographic.
Most popular day for viewing porn: Sunday.
12% of all websites are pornographic.

(source = Online MBA)

So why in the world would I write about pornography? Good question. I have a concern on my heart about how this slimy industry is impacting our youth. Plus, having an technical background gives me an in-depth understanding of how the Internet works, and how the perpetrators are repetitively on the hunt for victims to lure into their sludge pit of easily accessible sin. I desperately want to protect the youth from this horrible industry!

Most reading this can probably remember back to their first exposure to pornography — it’s a memory that tends to become burned into ones brain. For me, I was around 13 — I came across stack of magazines someone had left in the desert behind my house. That was then and, WOW, has it ever changed. Today, a person doesn’t even have to hunt for it. A simple typo into your web browser will lead you to some pretty bad stuff. Even worse, if one is “on the hunt” for porn, a three second Google search will take you directly into the unsavory world. Yes, the 80′s are but a memory!

Enter today’s teenager –

Tech savvy teens with uncontrolled hormones, growing up in a self-serving society with sex and pornography around every corner is a recipe that concerns me deeply. It’s saddening to think that many children will get their first lesson on sexuality, in the sinful form, because they typed “.com” instead of “.gov”. Think of that statistic — 11 years old. And the lifelong impact that could have on them — ugh!

So what can be done? First, let me say, I am following my heart here. I’m not a doctor, counselor, nor theological scholar. I am your everyday family man, IT guy and business owner. I love Jesus and I love working with the youth at our Church and seeing them develop a hunger for Christ. It’s so very, deeply saddening to my heart and soul to think of the damage this industry does to kids.

So with all that, my thoughts.. it’s part what I call a “spiritual ecosystem”… Are you ready? You’ve come this far, you can’t bail on me now! Here we go…

Reality check – We have to assume that, at some point, kids will come across pornography — some way, some how, they will see it. The goal is:

Not to avoid the discussion. Give kids an early spiritual-perspective of God’s healthy intention for sex — between a man and wife. Get that burned into the brain before they get the pornographers distorted version. Pray with them! Pray for their strength in Christ.

Protect them from seeing it as long as possible (no brainier, right?). But the goal here is, when they do come across it, they are more are more spiritually mature, and again, their first version came from a Christian adult. Not the pornographer.

Kids are technical – Understand that many kids are technically savvy enough that if they want to find it, they can. There are ways around just about everything you think will block it, and chances are your kids can find out how to get around the block faster than you can. So, I think it’s critical that Step 1 take place (tonight?) to help prevent a child from developing a hunger for this form of sin. It’s difficult one to break away from, and even more difficult for them to ask for help, should they fall prey.

Control their visual input — For boys especially. I think I speak for most of the guys out there when I say our brains come pre-wired to think visually. It’s only after perusing Christ that we begin to use our frontal lobe and appreciate the opposite gender as a spiritual creation of God – and it’s still a struggle for many. Unfortunately, if your home is stacked with tabloid magazines full of half dressed celebrities, or you watch TV shows that push the boundaries of legally acceptable programming, you might be testing the male frontal lobe more than you think. Please consider the effect that has on the people in your household. I’m convinced that repetitive risque imagery has a more detrimental impact to spiritual decision making, than people think.

Trust but verify – I’m a firm believer that parents should perform surprise reviews of web histories, texts, Facebook & twitter, and question if it’s been suddenly “cleared”. I can’t remember who said it, but think of it this way, “deleting your web history doesn’t hide it from Jesus” (I think I heard it on KLOVE). Next, don’t limit your checking to just your home computer, keep an eye on smart devices like iTouch, iPhones, Android phones, tablets, or anything else capable of getting to the web. Yes, the pornographers are there, too, just waiting.

Monitor – Continuing on with the “verify” concept, I would suggest using a tool like OpenDNS (I’m not affiliated with them in anyway, it’s just a tool that I personally use and like). This is probably the most under-rated form of monitoring internet activity – from stealth to alarm bells (not literally, but you get the idea). Again, there are ways around this too, but it has multiple levels of configuration and will monitor all the web traffic in and out of your home, even if it cleared from a browser. If you set it up on your homes wifi router, it will even catch the smart device traffic that connects to it.