Well yes. And…no. But mostly, yes. And when do you need it? Yesterday. The internet has never been more dangerous for kids. Researchers are a little uncertain as to how much of the worldwide internet usage is to view porn, but the numbers go between 30-50%. And while Google made some great changes to their Adwords program by not allowing porn in their advertising, you can still find porn in the search results (just not in the ads on the side). The average boy sees pornography for the first time at 10 years old – but we’ve met more parents than we can count whose child saw it closer to 7.
Here’s the scoop on children and pornography: kids are curious, and they usually see inappropriate things for the first time by accident. But what’s really sick, is the content is typically created to be addictive, and young kids are being specifically targeted. With a child’s rapid brain development, particularly between the ages of 11-15, the things they see have deep and lasting impacts. It’s often thought the most significant habits and patterns formed at this juncture are largely permanent (the book Hooked has some incredible research on this), following the child into his or her adult years. It’s possible that your child may be one of the few that doesn’t stumble across porn. BUT IS IT WORTH THE RISK?
For someone who has never tasted alcohol, there is no chance they could become an alcoholic. For someone who has never smoked pot, or even smoked at all, a drug or nicotine addiction isn’t even a worry. If you want to ensure your children don’t become addicted to porn, you have to first view it the same way you would a drug. Research proves pornography addictions look the same inside your brain as a hard drug addiction. And since none of us want our children to live a life chained to fantasy, we’ve got to try as hard as we can to keep them from seeing pornography to begin with.
Will they inevitably see it as some point in their life? Chances are likely that yes, they will. But if you can teach your kids to say no to drugs, you can teach them to say no to pornography. If you know of friends who light up a joint from time to time, you probably don’t want to choose them as your baby-sitter, and in the same manner, if you know of people who are careless, or even just ignorant of the instant access to porn that technology offers, you might not want your kids to have a sleepover at their house. Preventing an addiction from forming in the first place requires you to be intentional in your parenting. But before you feel overwhelmed, consider this: taking measures – even if extreme – to protect your kids is much easier than getting them into counseling and working with them in overcoming an addiction to porn. Much easier.
This all brings us back to internet filtering. Yes, you need it! But if you make the time and investment into getting it, you want to keep up with it. This takes discipline, because without checking up on your kids activity, and maximizing the software potential, it will not be effective. There are many different types of software, and whichever is best for you will vary on the ages of your kids. They aren’t 100% foolproof, but they help a LOT, and it’s worth every penny. Check out this article HERE, it will give you specific information on the programs our team has tested and used (You can also check out our webinars archive) . You can also contact us if you need help. Another thing we recommend if you’re not feeling too ‘techie’, is to hire a high school or college student from church to set it up on your computers, and teach you how to use it. They get a few bucks, and you save hours or days of struggle to figure it out. Basically – do whatever it takes to get some type of filtering up and running.
The last thought to leave you with is this: your best weapon in fighting pornography is prayer. We can’t tell you how many parents accidentally caught their kids looking at pornography, and were able to help disciple them before it became a full fledged addiction. We’ve even had teens come up and tell us after sessions that they were so thankful their parents caught them before they were hooked. Pray for God to protect your kids from the darkness of pornography, and really, all addictions. Pray that He will expose the hidden things – if your kids are trying to hide something dangerous, that God would show you and bring it out.
Statistics (unless otherwise noted) taken from Guardians of Purity. 2012. Copyright Charisma House Publishers.