Starting the Conversation: Protecting My Children from the Porn They Will Encounter

I’ve heard bits and pieces on the prevalence of porn in our society and even sat in a seminar once that went into a lot of the data.  Data such as… the average child is exposed to pornography between the ages of 7 and 131, or 85% of adolescent males and 50% of adolescent females had been exposed to pornographic material2.

Since we are raising two pre-teen boys, my husband and I had taken this information seriously enough to make sure we have a strong interneGPBP_Cover_3t filter* at our home.  But I really hadn’t thought much about it beyond that.  I knew it was important to do what we could to protect and prepare our family, but since I wasn’t sure how, I resorted to putting it off.

Then this summer, another blogger I read regularly (Monica Swanson) took up the issue.  As I read her post Kids and Porn: A
Guest Post, a Great Resource, and a Wake-Up Call
, I thought ok, here’s something I can do now.  And so I did it.

The post introduces a book called Good Pictures Bad Pictures.  Not sure if I was willing to commit any money to the experiment, I checked the book out from the library.  Then during separate one on one evenings with my boys, I read it with each of them.  It worked.  It opened the door to a comfortable conversation about pornography and how to be prepared with a plan for the boys to protect themselves when they encounter it (because of course, they will!).

My 9 and 10 year old boys both remained engaged and attentive throughout the book.  We took a little break in the middle to go out for some ice cream (you’ll see the book actually sets the stage for that) and both evenings turned into delightful times of connection and conversation with my boys, even though we were addressing a difficult topic.  I couldn’t have been more pleased!

“Coincidentally,” in the last couple of months I’ve become aware of challenges other families around me are facing in this area, and of parents like me, who want to do something to protect their kids but aren’t sure what to do.

Now I can totally relate with Monica’s statement in her post:

“The more I learn about the subject of pornography, and especially internet pornography, the more I feel compelled to be a voice to raise awareness on this issue.”

If sharing my experience with this one tool, can help someone else be a little more prepared and open the door to conversations, I want to share!

I know my boys’ and my family have a lot more we are going to have to learn and face on this issue in the future, but the conversation has started.

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*Now a little information on our internet filter.  We use a totally free service called OpenDNS Family Shield.  It protects every computer and device in our home that is using wired or wireless internet (it does not filter anything using cellular data).  Monica has another post that mentions some other services with small fees.  We’ve found OpenDNS to be a simple solution that works well for us.  I know there are some concerns about being blocked from legitimate sites or internet searches, but my response would be: as an adult you can probably either think of a different way to get the information or you do have the ability to bypass the filter if needed.