As you know pornography can capture the heart of a child or teen almost instantly, enslaving their hearts to a craving for illicit sexual pleasure that may plague them the rest of their lives. So how can we protect them? Protection begins with dialogue. It is then followed by blocking, which requires isnooping.
The dialogue our children need should 1) begin by conveying a very positive view of God’s glorious design of sex for husband and wife. Like a warm fire in the family room fireplace on a winter night, sex may be a blazing flame, or glowing embers. But when it is taken outside the home fireplace it becomes a raging, out of control, forest fire consuming all in its path.
The dialogue should 2) express your own sexual brokenness. You don’t need to confess details; but your openness to admit your sin and daily need for gospel forgiveness in this area will open the door of your teen’s heart to what you want to say. He needs to know that 99% of men struggle with lust. (And 1% are liars!) If he is a sexual struggler, we Christians are his kind of people! Challenge him to never let his sexual failure drive him FROM Christ, but always TO Christ for His limitless forgiveness. He who is forgiven much loves (Christ) much!
Blocking the enticing images of porn from reaching his or her heart requires filters and accountability. Inside home protection should include a) router protection (e.g. OpenDNS), b) search engine protection (e.g. Google SafeSearch) c) accountability software (e.g. Covenant Eyes, Safeeyes). Outside the home protection should include a) filters and accountability software on smart phones, tablets, laptops, etc.), b) overseeing or disabling the downloading of Apps.
Protecting also requires isnooping. Here are 8 principles to guide you:
1. Do not be apologetic about your responsibility to protect yourself and your family from the dangers of the Internet.
2. Do not be afraid to get help. Technology is growing and changing quickly. Few parents have time to stay on top of all the changes. Frankly this technology gap between parents and their techno-savvy kids is a huge chasm through which pornography reaches countless teens every day.
3. Make a plan with your family for safe Internet use (which includes yourself). Remember that Internet use now includes not only computers, but phones, gaming systems, tablets, Internet connected TV, etc.
4. Monitor Facebook and other social media sites. Insist that your children give you all their online passwords. My view is that in today’s world, protection trumps their desire for privacy, until they reach adulthood.
5. Use you tracking/accountability software and check the browser’s history. Their history can be easily erased, so impress upon them the fact that covering up their actions is akin to lying. It is dishonesty.
6. Monitor video communication. Make sure Skype, Facetime, etc. have the strictest and most private profile settings and that they are never used alone, late at night.
7. Be wise about overnight sleepovers, which can be prime time for porn exposure, sexual experimentation, etc. Many other families won’t have the strict Internet protections that you do.
8. As your teen becomes more independent, transfer to him increasing responsibility to watch over his heart with all diligence through a deepening desire to please Christ, and establishing the safeguards and accountability that he needs. But continue to ask him about how this accountability is working out.