Porn-proofing your kids

September 09, 2015
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By Jasbir T. Singh |

There's no doubt that parents have a tough job fighting off the onslaught of pornography in today's immoral, secularized culture. The proliferation of smart phones and tablets has really made access to pornography incredibly easy. No matter how hard parents try to keep pornography outside the home (and try we must), our children will eventually come across it.

A couple of days ago I came across this excellent interview on Catholic Answers Focus with the author of Good Pictures, Bad Pictures by Kristen Jenson. This book is now on the top of my list of books to purchase. I also recommend visiting her web site, www.pornproofkids.org.



(Taken from Catholic Answers Focus)

Today I brought up the topic of good pictures and bad pictures with my 4, 5 and 6 year old children because they have begun to use the Internet at home under our supervision. By the way, we are using the MetaCert porn filter extension on our Google Chrome web browser (https://family-safety.metacert.com/#chrome), and have configured our Internet router with OpenDNS Family Shield (https://www.opendns.com/home-internet-security). We have also set YouTube's restricted mode to "on".


The conversation went extremely well considering their short attention spans. My wife and I were able to get the point across, and we were happily surprised by our middle son who gave us an example of a bad picture. He said that when he was at Walmart last October he remembered being frightened by the skeleton monsters on t-shirts. We were glad that he identified them as "bad pictures". He also said that he "always had to look back at them", indicating to us that he couldn't stop himself. We told him that it was a good example of a bad picture, and that we have to try our best not to look at them. We also told him to tell mommy or daddy whenever it happens again.

Then our eldest daughter piped up and said she saw some magazine covers at Shoppers Drug Mart that "showed ladies with shirts that were so low you could see 'the line' on their chest". We had previously been teaching her about how to dress modestly, and were able to confirm to her that those kinds of shirts were not modest at all, and that they were indeed bad pictures. After today's dinner conversation, my wife and I decided that we would continue to have these kinds of discussions regularly.

Kristen Jenson advises that parents need to:
"Either inoculate your children early before they have been exposed, or you are playing catch up after they have been exposed."
She is convinced that by giving them warnings about porn and showing them that parents are the "expert", this will make children feel comfortable to ask their parents rather than learning about it from their friends at school. In other words, we parents need to become the "go-to person" and best source of information for our children. We need to explain our attitude and feelings about pornography in an age appropriate way so that they will be inoculated, just as we inoculate children with "shots" before going on trips overseas. It's the same thing with pornography.

Jenson says that if children fall into the trap of pornography, they don't really know it is bad because nobody has ever told them, and so they will continue to be drawn to it. When children get older, parents need to explain that while sex in marriage is good, sex shown in pornography is a counterfeit.

Another good piece of advice she gave was with regards to new vocabulary that children often pick up from their friends at school. Rather than having children resort to searching on the Internet for the meaning of new words (which often leads to porn sites), parents need to get their children to ask them what the words mean. This will only happen if children feel safe in asking their parents. Parents have to be ready to satisfy normal curiosities. Shame is the biggest reason why children don't like to ask their parents about sexuality, but if we can reduce the shame then they'll come to us. By warning children about pornography and winning their trust, parents will be able to help lessen the shame and shock of seeing something for the first time.

For young children, Jenson recommends explaining pornography as follows, with a six- or seven-year-old child. Even four- and five-year-old children can learn about it without using the word, 'sex'.
"Pornography is pictures, videos, or even cartoons of people with little or no clothes on. It shows parts of the body that we keep private, like the parts we cover with a swimsuit."
For older children she would describe it as:
"Any media that is designed to arouse sexual feelings by showing nudity or sexual behaviour."
resources at

http://chastityproject.com/qa/category/pornography/
My wife and I agree with Jenson that these kinds of conversations can't just be a one time deal. It should be discussed often, and we need to constantly reinforce the idea that we have two brains: a thinking brain and a feeling brain. The thinking brain should always be in charge, directing the feeling brain. This is her five-step CAN-DO plan in dealing with "bad pictures":



The resurrection of Guys
  • C: close my eyes immediately.
  • A: always tell a trusted adult, then it relieves the shame. If secret, it increases the shame.
  • N: name it when I see it. If you see porn, then say "that's porn", because it engages the pre-frontal cortex, the thinking brain.
  • D: distract myself when pornographic images pop back into my brain. Do something physical that is fun and exciting when the thought comes, or think about your favourite activity, e.g., start snorkelling in your mind. The memory will fade and not pop us as much.
  • O: order my thinking brain to be the boss! The thinking brain has to be in charge. Have a conversation with your feeling brain. Tell the feeling brain that it may be tempting to look at porn, but I'm going to use my thinking brain to stop myself from looking at it. 
This CANDO plan is important because it will help a child deal with pornographic thoughts as soon as they enter their minds. It can help to weaken the neuropathways that form by repeated exposure. We need to teach children to:
" ... put the brakes on by using their thinking brain."
"I want to support the millions of parents who are alarmed by the spread and acceptance of internet pornography. Viewing pornography has long-term detrimental consequences which are undeniable. Children deserve to grow up in a safe environment where they are taught that their sexuality is for building a deep and abiding relationship with their future spouse. Pornography is a cheap counterfeit that can and often does destroy a person's ability to enjoy a healthy relationship with another real person. As a result, marriages are broken up, jobs are lost, children are abused...doesn't sound like harmless entertainment to me." -- Kristen Jenson
Parents, please share your advice in the comments section below this post.

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