A few weeks ago, a colleague in the Christian publishing and speaking world suddenly needed an audience with me and my team … and fast. You see, over the weekend his eight-year-old daughter had a sleepover with a nine-year-old friend. When his fourteen-year-old got on the Internet after they’d used it, she found herself seeing images no girl (or woman, for that matter) should ever see. His heart was broken by the fact that both of his little girls had been forced to look at images that rip the innocence right out of girlhood.
It shouldn’t surprise you that this happened. It happens in most houses every day. The fourth most-searched word on the Internet for kids ages seven and under in 2009 was “porn.” For all kids up to age 18, sex was number four and porn was number five (according to data collected by OnlineFamily.Norton.com). This supports some research I saw a few years ago out of Britain, stating that the average age of the first inception of pornography has dropped from around 12 or 13 to age seven or eight. Are you sure your kids haven’t seen any?
Proverbs 22:6 says you and I are to “train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” I believe that command includes training them the way they should not go. That means providing roadblocks to one of today’s most insidious vices: pornography.
Here are five ways to protect your children from porn:
- Place computers in public rooms. Avoid bedrooms or dens where doors can be closed.
- Install Internet filters or accountability software. In our home, we use both SafeEyes and Covenant Eyes.
- Join any social networks — such as Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter — where your children belong and know their passwords. They should know that you are able to help monitor their friends and incoming images.
- Ask your children outright if they have sent or received “sext” messages. About 15 percent or more of teens have received one and are just waiting for you to help them talk about it.
- Collect cell phones at night to recharge them … and to let your kids recharge without them!
Of course, these measures are just one part of an open dialogue about sexual purity. You can’t just hide your kids from the world, but you can train them to safeguard themselves from harmful material within it.