Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Protecting Children from Pornography

In today’s world, it’s difficult to go a day without coming across pornography. That statement sounds a bit dramatic, but once you recognize that anything that elicits sexual arousal, not just explicit pictures, is pornography it suddenly is much more prevalent. Discussing pornography with children can be a difficult and uncomfortable situation, but not having open conversations about pornography and its effects can be much more damaging. It is no longer a matter of if children are exposed to pornography, but when. It is an epidemic that is gaining momentum. So how can you protect your family and children? 

The key is knowing what fuels the pornography epidemic, the three A’s: availability, affordability, and anonymity. Luckily as parents it is easy to address the two of these that effect children the most.

Availability: Pornography has changed in the past 30 years. You no longer need to seek it out, it will find you. It can be easily accessed on a wide variety of technologies. Set safeguards to protect your children. Keep your family computer in an open area of the home and make sure internet safety settings are high. Establish rules of where and when phones and tablets may be used. Keep in mind that children can easily be exposed to pornography while at school, at a friend's or anywhere else. You won't always be able to protect them from viewing it, but you can prepare them for when they do. That is where the next A comes in.

Anonymity: Pornography addiction is fed by secrecy, so one of the best ways to stop it is to bring the issue out in the open. Begin talking to children early about the issue so they know what to do when they are exposed. It may be uncomfortable at first to bring the topic up, but as you have regular and frequent age appropriate discussions it will become less uncomfortable for your child to open up to you about their experiences. Lack of communication leads for it to be a taboo topic children don’t know how to bring up or handle, which leads them to continue to try to deal with an adult sized issue on their own. It can also spark curiosity when they hear or see things. So how do you bring up such a difficult and uncomfortable subject? It is important that as you approach this topic you keep your child’s age and your family values in mind. You can bring it up naturally if you are with your child and see something that is inappropriate. Start with that experience, ask them if they've been exposed before, and teach them from there. One helpful resource for parents who are unsure of how to bring the topic up is the book Good Pictures Bad Pictures by Kristen A. Jenson.. This picture book takes you through a story of a mom talking to her son about what pornography is, why it may be hard to stop looking at, and what he can do when he sees pornography. The narrative can open up discussions between you and your child as you read, or you can simply read it for ideas of how you would like to personally address the issue with your child. 

Share your experiences and what worked for your family below! 

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