This is the final post in a six-article series to help parents respond to a child’s accidental porn exposure or purposeful seeking it out. The first five articles in the series are:

  1. Your Child Has Viewed Porn, Now What? 5 SMART Tips for Parents 
  2. SMART Parents Stay Calm 
  3. SMART Parents Make a Plan to Address Pornography Exposure 
  4. Porn is Tricky! SMART Parents Help Kids Understand Feelings 
  5. The Dangers of the ONE and ONLY Porn Talk: 4 SMART Tips for Regular Conversations with Kids

SMART Train the familyThe SMART Plan

  • Stay calm
  • Make a plan
  • Assist your child to sort out their feelings
  • Regularly check in with your kids
  • Train your family

Rejecting pornography is easier when the entire family gets involved and committed to online safety. One of my favorite illustrations from Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids shows a family cheering and rooting to help their kids defend themselves against pornography.

The final step in the SMART Plan to deal with exposure to pornography involves TRAINING the entire family to reject pornography. Here are three tips to help keep your family safe online.GPBP_30

Teach Healthy Responses for Negative Emotions

Curiosity may lead a child to look for porn, but an addiction is created when they use porn to distract themselves from their negative emotions, such as when they’re BLAST:

  • Bored
  • Lonely
  • Angry
  • Stressed
  • Tired

Try this conversation starter when you’ve got your kids in the car or they’re busy doing something like coloring or playing with Legos: “What can you do to feel better when you are bored (lonely, angry, stressed or tired)?”

Letting them think about dealing with their negative feelings empowers kids to respond to negative emotions in helpful and healthy ways. Explaining that everyone has these negative feelings and that they are normal helps kids to accept and “sit with” their emotions instead of trying to snuff them out with an addictive substance or behavior.

As you listen without judgment, you can help your child effectively process their feelings. I believe that rates of addiction of all kinds would plummet if everyone learned to deal with their negative feelings in healthy ways. Learn more about dealing with negative emotions in this post BLAST Addiction with Emotional Awareness. 

Care Tags The Play LadyUPDATE: Check out these CARE Tags from The Play Lady. You write them out with your kids and they help to identify behaviors, what the child feels, and what the child needs do to cope with them. Ingenious!

Create a Family Media Mission Statement

It makes a big difference if your family agrees on the types of media you support and want to consume. Mindless media consumption leads to viewingfamily-media-standard-thumbnail whatever is on or seems popular. Take a stand! Teach your kids by example to deliberately choose media that will help them and not hurt them. Read more about discussing media choices with your family in this previous post: Internet Safety: Three Tips for Parents Before Giving Kids and iPad, Tablet or Smartphone.

Fight the New Drug has come out with a Family Media Standard worksheet which is a great template to start with. You can get a free downloadable copy of it here.

Digital Protection

I definitely believe families are better protected with an Internet filter. But I also believe that kids need to be on board with using them. In other words, “Hey kids we’re installing this filter to protect our entire family, including us parents.” (Just remember that kids can get Internet access via video game consoles and e-readers, too.)

Filters which block content are especially appropriate for young kids (here are the Top Ten Reviews for Internet Filters–at this point Net Nanny is rated #1). Accountability software, like Covenant Eyes, produces reports detailing the sites family members have visited may work better for teens. Some products like Skydog have a combination of filter and accountability features and work at the level of the router for all devices within the home.

Young boy using laptopAdBlocker

One of my pet peeves are the ads and suggested videos listed on the right side on YouTube. My incredibly smart nephew showed me a way to block them by using a free download called AdBlocker. It enables you to customize what you see on the screen and block certain sections that show ads. After you download and install the program add-on, a little stop-sign shaped symbol with “ABP” will appear in the right-hand corner of the browser that you installed Ad Blocker Plus on. (It is browser specific, so you have to install it multiple times if you use multiple browsers.)

When you click the stop-sign logo there is an option to “Block Element.” Every web page is composed of many segmented pieces; when you click this option you can then move the cursor around the webpage you are currently on, and as you scroll over a particular portion, it will be highlighted in yellow. If you click down on a particular portion it will ask you if you want to make a rule for this webpage so that that element no longer appears on your screen. This is perfect for sites like YouTube, as you can hide elements of a webpage without having to block them entirely.

Family All Together At Christmas DinnerThey say it takes a village, but I say it takes a SMART plan to help kids defend themselves against pornography. These steps may seem like a lot of work, but folded into your day-to-day parenting, they’ll become just a normal part of the conversation. And think of the rewards of helping your kids safely navigate the Internet (and the 21 downsides if they don’t)!

How have you involved the entire family in staying safe from the dark and deviant influences of the Internet? Thanks for sharing and leaving a comment!

Kristen Jenson

Kristen A. Jenson is the founder of Protect Young Minds and author of Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids. Kristen enjoys speaking, writing and anything else that will help empower kids to reject pornography. Kristen earned a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, and a master’s degree in Organizational Communication. Kristen currently lives with her husband in Washington State, where she enjoys growing a vegetable garden, watching Masterpiece Theater, and taking long walks with friends who tolerate her incessant talking about you know what. Above all else, her husband and three children are her greatest treasures.


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