One concern I have for our children is their exposure to pornography at such a young age. You may not be aware of the issue, but it’s a growing problem in America. Did you know that by the time a boy reaches 10-years-old, 50% of them will be exposed to pornography? While the rates for girls are lower, they’re still being exposed at younger ages than ever before. Many times, it’s not even intentional. It could be an ad on YouTube, a pop-up on the internet, a billboard, and much more. Check out these statistics about pornography by PureHope:
- 12% of internet websites (4.2 million) are pornographic.
- Every 39 minutes a new pornographic video is being created in the U.S.
- 70% of 18-24 year-old men view pornography sites in a month.
- According to pastors, pornography addiction was the top sexual sin in their congregation (57%).
- 93% of boys are exposed to porn by the age of 18.
- 28% of teens have sent a sext.
- Only 23% of parents have rules about what their kids can do on the computer.
That last stat really shocked me. If parents were more knowledgeable about what their kids were doing on the internet and the games they’re playing on their devices, I believe we can greatly limit our children’s exposure to pornography. The honest truth is there is no certain way for you to ensure that your child never sees pornography. However, there are precautionary steps you can take, and conversations you can have with your children now to lower their chances of exposure.
- They’re never too young to talk internet safety.
Explain proper internet behavior. They should never talk to strangers, no matter what their age. Be cautious even with kids’ apps, because some have chat features and adults will go on there to talk to the kids. One thing leads to another, and before you know it, your child is being asked their address or to send pictures to them. Before you allow your child to play an app, look at it yourself to see if it’s safe. Don’t allow your child to download an app without your approval. Check out commonsensemedia.org to see reviews of apps and what is age appropriate.
- Set clear boundaries.
This is something you need to talk about as a husband and wife. A few things to consider: Should our child be allowed to have a computer or iPad in his room? This may sound a little strict, but most pornography is viewed in the privacy of someone’s bedroom. Have we talked to our child about sexual integrity? According to the ReThink Group (a resource to equip Christian parents and leaders), you should start talking to your kids about sexual activity and porn by the fourth grade. Have a biblical discussion about lust and staying pure. Not only does this help them better understand protecting their heart, but it also builds their relationship with you. Talking about these things early on will help them feel comfortable going to you about such issues in the future when it rears its ugly head in the coming years. What time must our kids be off their devices? Are they allowed to keep their devices in their rooms overnight? Maybe you consider making a charging station at your home where all devices are put before bedtime or exchange the screen time for more simpler toys, that are even easy to get at sites like ProductExpert online. This removes any temptation, or any situation where you child innocently stumbles over something late at night. Have you installed software, such as Covenant Eyes, on all devices in your home? This will send you a weekly report of everything your children have viewed and any potential red flags.
- Lead by example.
If you want your kids to live a pure life, you must show them what it looks like. You can’t expect your children to pursue a godly life if you are not. Men, love your wives and let your children see the love you have for her. Women, respect your husbands and always yield to his authority as the spiritual leader of the house. Your children will take notice of the way you treat your spouse. Talk to your kids about marriage and how sacred it is. When looking at inappropriate websites or even having lustful thoughts, it leads you away from Jesus and will negatively impact your family.
- Explain and caution pornography.
Most preteens don’t intentionally look at porn. It often happens when trying to cancel out of an ad or pop-up. But when they see it, it peaks their interest because this is totally new to them. Because we’re born with a sinful nature and drawn to these things, it’s no surprise that they keep looking at it. Educating your children on what pornography is will help them identify it and know how to handle it. Use Scripture and tell them how going down this path can destroy their life. Clearly identify this as sin and talk about how Jesus wants us to use our bodies. It’s also very important to explain appropriate and inappropriate touch early on during the preschool years.
Again, there is no sure way to prevent exposure to your children. These are merely suggestions, but I believe they will be beneficial to your family. Kids are growing up in a different culture than you did. They have access to the internet everywhere they go. Temptation is right around every corner, but with Jesus, those temptations can be overcome. Pray daily and fervently for the protection of your children. Trust the Lord and dedicate to raise your kids for His honor and glory. I hope your children grow up to be men and women who desire to live a life of purity. May God have His way in the hearts and minds of every member in your family.
Garrett Oppel | Children’s Pastor
Mount Pleasant Baptist Church