Keep Your Kids Safe

News: Commentary
by David Nussman  •  •  December 16, 2022   

The scourge of lewd content

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I am angry.

Maybe anger is an emotion you'd expect from someone who writes for a website with "Militant" in the name.

Covenant Eyes

But the anger I want to discuss doesn't pertain to pro-abortion politicians or cover-up bishops. It pertains to vast swathes of the American populace failing to do something very important.

I am angry that almost an entire generation of children is losing their innocence to internet pornography, while seemingly few adults are doing a blasted thing about it.

In February 2020, a survey found that over 83% of Gen Z watches porn. Furthermore, nearly 26% of those respondents admitted to being dependent on masturbation in order to sleep at night.

Here are some quotes from a statistics page put together by Covenant Eyes, a company that provides accountability and filtering software:

  • "Only 43% of teens believe porn is bad for society, compared to 31% of young adults 18–24, 51% of Millennials, 44% of Gen Xers, and 59% of Boomers."
  • "64% of Christian men and 15% of Christian women say they watch porn at least once a month."
  • "51% of male students and 32% of female students first viewed porn before their teenage years."
  • "The first exposure to pornography among men is 12 years old, on average."
  • "71% of teens hide online behavior from their parents."
  • "A 2016 study on Canadian adolescents showed that 45.3% admitted to problems with erectile dysfunction."

In other words, porn addiction among teens and pre-teens is a huge problem. Why are so few adults out there doing anything about it?

We wouldn't necessarily expect adults of a certain age to know how the internet works and how dangerous it can be. My own parents were on the younger side of the baby boomer generation, so our family wasn't exactly tech-savvy when I was a kid (I was still using a GameBoy Advance SP in 2014).

But we're at a time now when Gen Xers and Millennials are raising children. Many of these people are good with computers. Many of them should know better. They should know there's a lot of lewd content on the internet that's easy to access.

Perhaps some parents out there are still completely in the dark about how the internet works. But many parents these days should know they need to monitor and restrict their children's internet usage, as well as put porn filters on their kids' devices.

Mic'd Up Report: The Porn Industry

Monitoring, restricting and filtering — that's what needs to be done. But, by and large, parents these days aren't doing any of that.

Parents might put together big protests about pornographic content in the school library, but what about the pornographic content their teenage children can view anytime, anywhere, via their smartphones, tablets and laptops?

There's been no mass movement to keep kids' minds and souls free from the corruption of porn addiction. Millions of teenagers are ruining their lives, and few adults seem to care.

So why are people who know the dangers of the internet still failing to protect their kids' souls from the scourge of internet pornography? I offer two potential reasons.

1. Fear of Confrontation

Some parents may suspect their teenagers are viewing porn, but they may be scared of the backlash and family drama that could unfold if they try to deal with the issue. 

Obviously, it's not good to live with an elephant in the room that jeopardizes the salvation of your child's soul. But many people live that way anyway.

To some degree, most people are afraid of conflict. Normal, sane, rational people don't like confronting their loved ones, causing drama or having heated arguments. So this hesitancy to address a hot-button topic is understandable. But if your child's soul is at stake, don't you think it's worth the risk?

It's not good to live with an elephant in the room that jeopardizes the salvation of your child's soul.

Perhaps people can deal with this fear by taking time to plan — brainstorming in advance about prudent ways to address the matter with their child. Maybe they can write down a plan on how to broach the subject — perhaps a bullet-point list of topics to discuss. That's what I do when I'm intent on talking with someone about a topic that's awkward or nerve-racking.

2. "My Little Johnny Would Never!"

Even if they would never say as much out loud, some parents seem to have an attitude of, "My little Johnny is an angel! He would never do that!"

Yes, there is a sort of innocence in children, especially very young children. That much is true. But this innocence needs to be protected, not taken for granted.

Kids are naturally curious. There are countless ways a preteen or early teen might find pornography online following a chain of events that began somewhat innocently. 

Let's say that a 12-year-old boy has classmates who tell dirty jokes. He's never heard many of the slang words before, so he doesn't get what many of the jokes are about. The other kids tease him and bully him for not understanding the jokes. Because he wants to fit in and make friends, he goes to the internet browser on his smartphone and starts looking up some of the words and phrases his classmates are using. He figures that if he learns these dirty slang terms, he'll understand the jokes and won't get teased so much.

Looking up those words will easily lead him to pornographic websites. Even with "SafeSearch" settings turned on, it may only be a matter of time before he starts seeing images and videos that will cost him his innocence. The feelings of shame might lead him deeper into porn.

Yes, that hypothetical 12-year-old boy is above the age of reason. That being said, children are still children. They rely on their parents' support to build virtue and conquer vice.

Practical Steps

Here are a few practical steps for parents to consider taking to safeguard their children's souls. Different things will work for different families. These are just ideas to consider:

  • Don't give them smartphones until they're 18. Some parents swear by this. If a teenager needs a cell phone, you can probably get a flip phone for about $40, with unlimited talk and text for about $20 a month (prices may vary, especially in this economy).
  • Set up porn filters on all devices. You have several options here. A good one is Covenant Eyes, which is very customizable. In addition to software for computers, Covenant Eyes also has apps for smartphones. That means you can monitor both smartphone usage and computer usage through the same portal.
  • Only allow screen time when a parent is in the room. This is a simple, low-tech solution. Of course, it only really works on full-sized computers — not so much for tiny smartphone screens, since those make it easy for kids to hide usage from their parents.
  • Set parental controls on smartphones. Smart devices typically have parental controls in which you can restrict access to certain kinds of content, prevent the downloading of new apps, etc. On iPhones, these options can be found under "settings." If this is the only measure you're taking, I would strongly advise that you delete all internet browsers from the device (e.g., Safari or Chrome). This means that your child will still have whatever video games and social media he's allowed to use, but he'll have no access to websites and search engines — which, in turn, means no access to porn sites.
  • Don't allow smartphones in the bedroom. This rule can remove an occasion of sin for many teens. Some families have all the phone chargers located in the kitchen to help enforce this rule. (A consequence of this is that the family members will need real alarm clocks to wake up in the morning!)

Another very important thing parents can do — something that's easily forgotten in this day and age — is to pray. Pray for your children's souls. Ask Our Lady to help you raise your children to become men and women of faith and integrity.

The Blessed Virgin Mary, the model of purity, wants to help her children live in a way that's pleasing to God.

--- Campaign 31877 ---


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