Most parents understand the dangers of pornography for children and want to protect them from it. However, many parents aren’t quite sure how to go about doing this. Here I provide practical advice for protecting families.
Joe and Donna came to me for help and advice. They discovered their son, Steven, a college student, had been spending hours online viewing pornography. They were very careful to protect Steven from viewing any pornography during his childhood and teenage years. They repeatedly told him how morally wrong viewing pornography is. Why was he now looking at it so much? Joe and Donna felt like failures as parents.
While it is important to protect children from viewing pornography, teens must be prepared to enter a world where they eventually will encounter pornography. It will find them. Teens need to understand the dangers of pornography and be able to say “no” to it. While Joe and Donna did a good job protecting Steven from pornography during his childhood, they did not provide him with the tools to avoid it as a teen and young adult.
The average age when a child first encounters hard-core pornography today is eight! Often it is by accident that they discover it. Because of this, I divide minors into two groups – those under the age of eleven (elementary school) and those eleven and older (middle school and up).
Children under the age of eleven must be protected from encountering pornography. Parents need to make sure their children are never in situations where they can encounter it. Here are some tips to help parents achieve this:
Steps to Protect Children Ages 10 and Under from Pornography
1. Carefully monitor all media that enters the home and remove anything pornographic
- Video Games
2. Never leave a child alone with the Internet! Teach your child that while there are a lot of good things on the Internet, there are also a lot of bad things. You need to supervise their use of the Internet to protect them.
3. Monitor what children are viewing online: computer, cell phone, tablet, iPod, video game system, etc.
4. Limit screen time: television, computer, cell phone, tablet, iPod, video games, etc.
5. Monitor all email and text messages
6. Children should not have social media accounts
7. Children should not have iPhones or Smart Phones. Flip phones are okay.
8. Subscribe to an internet filtering service for computers and cell phones.
- I recommend CovenantEyes.com
- Note: Although these services are helpful, they are not foolproof. Parents still need to monitor their children’s computer use.
9. Monitor what children are viewing at public access computers
- School, library, community center, etc.
10. Monitor what children are doing at their friend’s houses
- Allow children to only play with the children of parents whom you know are also protective against pornography
11. Teach children about healthy modesty in dress
12. Teach children to respect their bodies and other people’s bodies
13. Teach your children to come to you when they encounter anyone who is immodestly dressed
14. Focus on character development in children; teach them to be virtuous
15. Once your child reaches age 8, I recommend reading Good Pictures/Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids by Kristen A. Jenson and Gail Poyner with your child.
Because kids in middle school and older will eventually encounter pornography, they need to be trained to reject it. They need to be taught about the dangers of pornography and how it can hurt them and the ones they love. To help train adolescents, I provide the following tips:
Steps to Help Prepare Teens Ages 11 and Older for a Pornified World
- Teach young people about the dangers of pornography.
- It is an addictive substance, similar to drugs and alcohol, and should be avoided.
- It fosters selfishness and narcissism
- It leads men to use women
- It is disrespectful to everyone involved
- It can harm future relationships
- It is a grave sin that affects one’s relationship with God
- Encourage you child to read Plunging Pornography: A Catholic Bathroom Book by D.J. Hueneman
2. Carefully monitor all media that enters the home and remove anything pornographic
- Video Games
3. Talk to young people about how the media uses sex to exploit people just to sell products
4. Limit screen time: television, computer, cell phone, tablet, video games, etc.
5. Monitor all use of Internet, email, text messaging, and calls on cell phones.
6. Talk to youths about the dangers of sexting.
7. Monitor all social media
8. Subscribe to an internet accountability service for all computers, tablets, and cell phones
- I recommend CovenantEyes.com
- An accountability service differs from a filtering service in that it does not block any websites. Instead, it will send email reports to parents if questionable websites are visited
- Knowing that parents will be receiving email reports can deter teens from visiting pornographic websites. It can also help them develop the habit of avoiding such sites.
9. Monitor what teens are doing at their friend’s houses
10. Promote modesty in dress.
11. Teach teens to respect their bodies and other people’s bodies
12. Teach youths about healthy sexuality and relationships
- John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and Love and Responsibility
13. Focus on character development in youths; teach them to be virtuous
While protecting your family from pornography may seem like a lot of work, it is well worth the effort. Protecting children from encountering pornography protects their innocence. It keeps them from entering a world they are not yet ready for. When they do enter adolescence, they will be better able to develop a healthy understanding of relationships and sexuality.
By helping teens understand the dangers of pornography, they will be better able to reject it when they do encounter it. They can also be a positive influence on their peers for living a pure life. Had Joe and Donna prepared Steven to properly deal with pornography instead of completely sheltering him from it, he would have been better able to resist it while in college. This is the “ounce of prevention” that will help you avoid the “pound of cure” later on.
Dr. Kleponis recently published the book, Integrity Restored: Helping Catholic Families Win the Battle Against Pornography. This book addresses:’
- The pornography problem in America
- The addictiveness of pornography
- How porn affects men, women, children, and teens
- How to protect families from pornography
- Where to find help for those who struggle with pornography use.
The book is published by Emmaus Road Publishing. I link can be found under the “Books” tab on this website.
For more help and advice on protecting families from the dangers of pornography, click here.