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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.
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:
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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:
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.
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