The following is a comment made by a mom from our church that I couldn’t shake and, with her permission, had to share. Here’s what she said:
It worries me so much that one day my son will be exposed to pornography.
Stop and let that sink in for a moment. She wasn’t talking about her teenage son, but a young boy who has several years to go before entering that stage of life. She’s dead on with her concern. She’s dead on with her conclusion that likely, one day, most of the boys and young men (and many of the girls and young women) you know will be exposed to this absolute moral darkness and utter depravity. The aim of this post is to provide practical ways we can help guard them from it. We live in a day where a young man or woman doesn’t have to go looking for pornography. It will find them.
More often than not, first exposure happens in the home.
Some of you reading that last line just said to yourself, “That won’t happen in my home.” Are you sure? If you haven’t taken any steps to guard your child’s access to media and the internet at home, you can’t be sure. On the contrary, not setting limits and boundaries with a media saturated, media savvy generation is a recipe for disaster. Allowing a teenage son unlimited, unmonitored internet access in the privacy of his bedroom today is about the equivalent of filling his closet with boxes of pornographic magazines 20 years ago, and expecting him not to look. The absolute worst thing we can do is be passive. This is true in parenting as a whole. This is true in every aspect of the Christian life. We must be intentional. We must be diligent.
So please let me ask what steps have you taken to guard the boundaries of media use in your home? Does your 8 year old have unlimited access to youtube? Are there parental blocks on search engine terms on your internet browser? Is your daughter allowed to take the ipad into her bedroom, shut the door, and have no accountability? How long did you think, pray, and wrestle before buying your son or daughter a phone with unlimited text and data? Did you know that your teenager can use proxy sites to view whatever content they want without it showing up in your browser history? Have you provided a safe environment for your son or daughter to establish trust in their use of media and technology? Are you teaching them how to discern between what is true, honourable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, praiseworthy, and what isn’t? Do they know they can come and talk to you when they see or look at something they know they shouldn’t?
Here are some resources available to us that can help:
First: Covenant Eyes – This ministry is based on Job’s commitment never to look lustfully at a virgin. The website is full of articles, resources, services, videos etc. to help you parent well in this digital age. Check out the free e-book “Parenting the Internet Generation” and the article “Protecting Your Kids on youtube.” For low monthly fees you can set up filtering and accountability on your internet browsers. A video on the home page explains how it works. At the very least, this site will educate you as a parent and move you along to becoming more intentional and diligent in this area. Click the links and take some time to browse their content.
Second: David Murray’s God’s Technology. Two copies are on their way for the church library. I would highly recommend watching it, and if your kids are old enough, watching it a second time with them. The trailer is below.
Third: Tim Challies’ book The Next Story: Life and Faith After the Digital Explosion. This will provide you with a theoretical, theological, and practical grid to evaluate media and technology. As he points out in the book, when it comes to media and technology, most people are experience rich and theory poor. As Christians, when it comes to media and technology, we are experience rich, theory poor, and theologically poor. This should not be. Tim’s book provides a foundation sorely lacking for many of us.
Finally, let me plead with you, by God’s grace, strength, and wisdom to guard your children as best you can by guarding yourselves, using all the good resources we have available to us, and the truth of the gospel most of all. Do it for their sake, the wives or husbands they may one day marry, the children God may one day give to them, and most of all, the Church.