In my last post, I addressed the dangers of pornography and why we need to protect our children from porn. We ended with the issue of how can we protect our children from this industry vying for our children’s attention and allegiance? Hopefully, this post will provide some answers.
First, we have got to recognize the dangers of pornography and accept that if we aren’t proactive about keeping our children safe, they won’t be. And if you think your children aren’t old enough for you to be concerned about pornography yet, think again. The University of Sydney study found that 43 percent of those surveyed started viewing porn between the ages of 11 and 13 years old. Other studies on the subject report that 10 is a common age of initial exposure, and if the child has older siblings, the age can be even younger. It’s never too early to take precautions.
Next, we have got to keep an open dialogue with our children about pornography, and put in place safeguards to shield them from it. When our children were babies we kept choking hazards out of reach and medicine on the top shelf. There’s a new danger now, and it is our responsibility to work just as diligently to protect them online as we do offline. Below are some concrete things you can implement in your home to protect your children from viewing pornography and other inappropriate material online.
Keep Computers In Common Areas of the House
way too much time online. For these same reasons, we don’t allow TVs in bedrooms either – too much unregulated screen time. We don’t even have one in the master bedroom. *Gasp* I know. We’re old school We just prefer to keep our time in there free for other activities.
Put a Filter on Any Computer Used By Children
According to a report released in May by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner in England, “accidental exposure to pornography is more prevalent than deliberate access.” As parents, it is our responsibility to help our children avoid exposure to adult material, and an Internet filter is a really effective way to do this.
We have tried multiple filters, and the one we finally landed on is the Internet filter from Covenant Eyes. It is the least intrusive software by far. Most of the other filters we tried seemed to constantly throw hissy fits, even on a safe website. Covenant Eyes never interferes at start up and only shows up when a user attempts to visit a page that is rated above the user defined settings.
Please note that Covenant Eyes also has accountability software, which my husband and many of our male friends use. It allows the user to browse the Internet freely without blocking websites, but keeps a record of Internet activity. That record is then emailed weekly to the accountability partners that have been set up for the account. The report also highlights any activity on websites with questionable material. We’ve found the software to be a great safeguard. The accountability software is ideal for adults and maybe trusted teens, but it doesn’t filter anything, so be sure to sign up for the Filter for any computers that are used by children
Disable the Internet Browser and YouTube on Any Device Children Can Use Unsupervised
Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with kids having devices, as long as they have been childproofed. We have an iPad we keep in the playroom that has all sorts of educational games on it. I keep an eye on how much time each child spends on it, but if they are playing “school games” it doesn’t count against their allocated 30 minutes of screen time for the day. Safari (the web browser), the App store and YouTube are all disabled, so other than potentially giving them carpal tunnel, it is a safe device.
Enable a Passcode Lock on All Unrestricted Phones & Mobile Devices
Phones and other handheld devices are exactly what they espouse – mobile. This is awesome for convenience, but horrible for supervision. Kids can disappear with a phone or iPad and expose themselves to all sorts of filth before you even realize they’re gone. A passcode is especially important on your phone because I’m guessing you don’t want to remove your Internet browser or YouTube. I mean what would your day be like if your couldn’t watch Snowball the Cockatoo dancing to the Backstreet Boys on YouTube? Really.
Before I got smart about passcode locks, there were several times when I found my then 4 and 6 year old crouching in the back of a dark closet, visible only by the glow of a screen, playing some game on my iPhone. Thankfully, they were never viewing anything harmful, but were just trying to sneak in some extra screen time. I’d like to think that some parental discipline would be all that the little munchkins would need to keep them from this behavior, but sometimes temptations are too great. Plus, I’d rather not chance it, especially when a passcode takes care of the issue so easily.
Change Google’s Search Engine Settings
Google has a setting called SafeSearch that will automatically filter out explicit content from showing up in your search results. I had used it in the past, but it would frequently turn off again. Now, you can turn it on and lock it so that someone would have to enter a password to turn it back on. We are always searching online for something for school, and I love the added security of having Google on my side. Instructions for setting up SafeSearch can be found here.
Work With Other Parents To Keep Up With “The Newest Thing”
My hope is that this information will help you further safeguard your home and keep your children safe while they are online. The way I see it, parents are going to have to continually work together to figure out the latest and greatest in technology, understand its particular dangers, and find out how to best protect our kids. If we all work towards these goals, sharing what we learn along the way, we have a chance to delay the introduction of pornography to our children, giving us valuable time to educate them on its dangers, as well as impart to them a correct view of sex and its place within a committed marital relationship.
So, how do you protect your children from inappropriate material? What other precautions have you set up in your home? I’d love to hear if there are any other methods out there that help!
You might also like the post on How To Childproof Your TV, and Why We Need To Protect Our Children From Pornography.