Did you know?
Teens have seen or been exposed to:*
Among boys, on average the first exposure to pornography is at age 12. Seventy-one percent of teens hide online behavior from their parents. Among teens in the age 16–17 group, 28% have been unintentionally exposed to pornography online. Within that same group, 20% of 16-year-olds and 30% of 17-year-olds have received a sex text (referred to as sexting).
The Internet is a phenomenal resource for our lives, but all parents have had to wrestle with properly maintaining its use to keep their children safe. Statistics indicate that one out of every five mobile searches is for pornography.
As a father and a person who devotes his life to working with teenagers and young adults, I know the destruction that comes to those who dabble in pornography. The truth is that when you give your children computers, iPhones, tablets, and other devices, those children instantly have access to the doorway to pornography.
The statistics are frightening, and they’re inevitable if parents don’t take the time and make the effort to protect their children. The Bible says in Proverbs 2:11, “Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee.” As loving parents, you have to use your discretion and understanding to help make sure your children are safe online. To help achieve this protection, keep these two goals in mind:
Teach your children to use electronic devices responsibly.
Your children need to learn how to properly navigate the Internet and avoid undesirable websites. To promote your children’s growth and maturity in this area, schedule a regular time to meet and discuss with them their Internet usage.The primary goal of the meetings is to educate your children about what you expect when it comes to their devices. Begin with a general family meeting to express your concern for your children’s well-being. Make it clear to your children that they should not expect any privacy concerning the use of any devices they have in your house. I know this may seem like a stretch, but I’m glad my mom didn’t allow me to have privacy, for example, when I was playing with firecrackers and almost blew my fingers off because of my negligence.
Your children’s devices are great tools, but they could be instruments of torment in their lives if those devices are not properly managed. Above all, make sure that you have control of passwords and that your children don’t know the master password for the Wi-Fi or the Apple login or ID Account.
Filter the Internet.
Prevent your children from exposure to the filth that is lurking online to defile their hearts. Concerned parents will want to make it as difficult as possible for their children to access dangerous or pornographic material, even if they want to.* You can find several great resources that aid in filtering what comes into your home.
One example of a product that filters the Internet is a device called Circle, which allows you to: 1) filter out provocative or unwanted content; 2) monitor websites visited and time spent using certain apps; 3) set time limits on usage of websites and other services per day; and 4) set “bedtimes” for blocking app and Internet usage. Circle is quite simple to use, and setup takes about 15 minutes. First connect the Circle device to your Internet router, then download the Circle app, wirelessly connect the Circle device you will use to manage your children’s devices, and follow a few simple steps guided entirely by the app.
With Circle, you have the option of filtering websites or services such as apps that are attempting to access the Internet. In addition, you can set time limits on usage of the Internet or limit Facebook and Instagram usage to any specified amount per day. Also, to keep your children from incurring usage charges if they fall asleep while playing on their phones, a feature blocks all app and Internet usage after a designated “bedtime.” Circle is quite simple to use, and the online discussion board offers helpful tips and other suggestions. The only current limitation is that Circle manages only those devices that are on your home network; Circle promises to address this issue next year through technology called “Circle Go.”
The battle for your teens’ hearts and minds is intense, but with proper communication and tools, you can be well on your way to protecting your children.
* Adapted from the article “The Porn-Free Family Plan” by Tim Challies.
Community Connection is an outreach magazine and blog from Valley Forge Baptist to provide relevant and uplifting articles for the families and homes of Collegeville, PA and area residents. Articles are not just from staff but from other community members who’s lives have been touched by Jesus Christ. If we have been an encouragement to you please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.