Does every preschooler need to be warned about seeing pornography? Along with teaching them their colors and how to count to 10, do kids ages 3 to 6 require a primer on how to respond to the “bad pictures” they may encounter online? Or on a friend’s phone or tablet? Sadly, yes! (Don’t miss my 3 recommendations below and one shameless plug!)
A few years ago, I would have balked at the idea, but no more. I’ve heard too many stories about 3 to 6-year-old’s getting exposed to pornography! I no longer believe that their young age acts as a form of insulation. (Society used to protect kids, but it doesn’t any more. And that’s a new reality we all need to adapt to if we want to keep kids safe.)
I’ll never forget these stories about preschoolers
A young mom is sitting next to her 3 year old daughter on the couch. Her daughter is watching a fun, age-appropriate YouTube video and the mom is on her phone checking her social media. All of a sudden, her daughter cries out in alarm. The mom looks down and sees a horrific video of bestiality involving a tiger. Somehow, her daughter had stumbled upon it on YouTube–and it happened in just a moment!
Maybe you’ve heard about the young boy who was “talking” to “Alexa”–Amazon’s new voice command device that answers questions and orders products? His command to “Play Digger Digger” resulted in a Alexa spouting off a list of XXX books and other sex toy products. The video shows the parents scrambling to shut Alexa up! (Warning–some graphic porn descriptions are heard in this video; unfortunately it shows how easily kids can be exposed to the bad stuff!)
I’ve stopped counting the times I’ve heard of innocent 5 year olds being shown porn on a school bus.
And then there’s a clinician’s story (posted as an Amazon review) of her 6 year old son being exposed to porn from another 6 year old’s phone! (Yes, a 6 year old friend had a fully functioning smartphone.) This sex addiction therapist came to realize that the only protection she could give her young son was to inoculate him with education and a plan.
4 best ways to protect your preschooler
#1. Password protect your own mobile devices and supervise your child’s use of the internet. This sounds so simple, but it’s essential. And make sure they don’t know your pass code! Supervising kids on mobile devices is not always convenient, but think of it like this: You take your preschooler to the park and watch them play, but you don’t leave them at the park and let them wander the neighborhood alone. The internet is like a big worldwide neighborhood and your child can teleport to any area of it with a few taps. There are no iron gates keeping kids out of porn on the internet. And even if they find something inappropriate while you supervise them, at least you know what has happened and can coach your child on how to respond.
#2. Only allow your kids to use devices that have filters installed. Filtering is a good first line of defense and is important for young kids. Check out Covenant Eyes (affiliate link) or this list of filtering services or this free router filter. You can also find a FREE way to filter web content by using Open DNS. Read about it here.
#3. Don’t trust YouTube Kids to keep your preschooler safe from disturbing and sexualized cartoon parodies, as pointed out in this AOL article. Yep, there are people out there who use cartoons like Peppa Pig to make sexualized and violent parodies for adults. These videos are put up on YouTube Kids for the clicks and resulting revenues. Sick. Wrong. Exploitation. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use YouTube Kids–it’s better than the alternative. However, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security.
#4. Make the convo easy with Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr.: A Simple Plan to Protect Young Minds
Even preschoolers need an INTERNAL filter. How do you help them install it? By starting an age-appropriate conversation with them–one that will continue throughout their childhood. Hopefully that convo will be a lot easier with my new book, Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr.: A Simple Plan to Protect Young Minds. That’s what I designed it to do–make it easy for parents to protect their youngest digital natives (ages 3 to 6). I didn’t do it alone–I had a lot of help and input from parents in the trenches, like you.
To be perfectly honest, the first time a parent asked me to write a “Jr.” version of Good Pictures Bad Pictures for preschoolers, I literally gasped! But the requests kept coming, so I started writing!
It makes sense.
You teach your child what to do in other dangerous situations and you can teach them what to do when they see “bad pictures.”
This 3 year old loves Jr.!
I recently heard from Rachel, a proactive mother of a preschooler who loves Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr.:
“Our 3 year old Benson absolutely loves his book! He asks for it by name, finds it thrilling to let others try to find the cameras when he reads it to them, and loves talking about good pictures and bad pictures. We found him reading it to his 18 month old sister yesterday!”
What’s the upside for you and your young child?
- No secrets! They know they can come to you and report exposures.
- You can build trust by assuring your child that they can talk to you about anything, even bad pictures.
- You can empower your child with the Turn, Run & Tell plan. This helps a child proactively respond to seeing bad pictures so they don’t get pulled in by their curiosity.
- You can teach your child to never show bad pictures to other kids. (This is more common than most parents realize.)
- You can help protect your child from sexual abuse. Pornography is used by perpetrators to groom kids for sexual abuse. It also fuels a skyrocketing epidemic of child on child sexual abuse. April is Child Sexual Abuse Prevention month, so let’s do some prevention by warning kids about pornography as early as they have any access to the internet.
I wish we lived in a world where preschoolers didn’t need this kind of warning. But until we change the world, we need to prepare our kids to reject “bad pictures” whenever they see them.
FREE Guide: 3 Secrets to Porn-Immune Kids
Protect Young Minds is here to help you arm your kids with skills to reject pornography. CLICK on the image below to get your FREE guide, 3 Secrets to Porn-Immune Kids: