This is part 4 of a four-part series by Sam Black from Covenant Eyes. Sam teaches parents all over the country how to prepare their children to be safe online. He also serves on the Protect Young Minds advisory council. Don’t miss part 1, part 2 and part 3!

how to defend kids from pornography

At a conference in Florida, a mom came running to our Covenant Eyes booth and exclaimed, “I attended your session last year and I’m so glad. My 7-year-old son was just exposed to porn!

She described how another 7-year-old boy in her neighborhood had received an iPad for his birthday and discovered pornography. The boy then showed her son, who thankfully reacted quickly. “No, that’s pornography!” her son told his friend. Then her son turned from the iPad, ran home, and told his mom.

After talking with the other boy’s parents, it was soon discovered he had exposed other kids throughout their neighborhood to porn. The other kids kept it secret out of confusion, fear, shame, and other reasons. Only the boy who had been trained by his parents told an adult.

Related: 5 Sneaky Locations Porn Finds Kids

How we can help our kids live free from the tug of porn

Parents are often afraid of talking about sexual issues with their kids. The idea of describing pornography sometimes seems out of the question. “Won’t talking about it just make them more curious?” parents ask.

Depending on which study you review, the average age for kids to be exposed to porn is between ages 8 and 13. Whatever the true number is, it is definitely young. I am confident in saying that it’s not if your child will be exposed to porn, but when, and whether they will be prepared for it.

We want to talk to our kids about sex and pornography early! Because if we don’t, someone else will – and it won’t be the information we want them to get first.

By talking with our kids we are not stealing their innocence—we are taking away their ignorance so that they can help protect their innocence.

Understandably, some parents want to rid their homes of electronics and media. But in today’s world where kids learn online and will need technology to join tomorrow’s workforce, that isn’t realistic either.

Three things you CAN DO now to prepare your kids

Here are three things that will make a big difference: train, protect, and carry on an ongoing conversation.

Step 1. Train your kids

I speak to thousands of parents year after year. There are many resources available for teaching our kids, but I always recommend Good Pictures, Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids and Good Pictures, Bad Pictures Jr.: A Simple Plan to Protect Young Minds. Always? Yes, always.

These read-along books are some of the best tools available for parents to train and prepare their kids for the day they will see porn. It describes pornography in an age-appropriate way and gives them easy actions to turn away, run to a trusted adult, and tell them what they saw. Turn, run, tell. And for older kids, the CAN DO plan has even more steps to help!

There are many great resources available today to provide for follow-up training, but the Good Pictures, Bad Pictures series is the best place to start.

“Have you wanted to talk to your kids about pornography, but didn’t know what to say?! I’ve felt that way for quite some time and finally found a solution – Good Pictures Bad Pictures. . . I highly recommend this book to all people with children. A must have for all parents!” – Amazon Review. CLICK HERE to learn more about Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids.

Step 2. Put technology to work for you

The right technology can help protect and monitor how your child uses their devices. Filtering is not enough!

In a 2016 Barna Research study, every family interviewed reported that someone accessed porn when filtering-only tech was being used. In eleven percent of the homes someone accessed porn daily, and in 16 percent someone in the family sought out porn at least weekly.

Filtering software blocks mistakes and accidents, especially for younger children. But determined tweens, teens, and adults mess with filters until they find a way around them.

Accountability software is different. This type of tech helps by monitoring internet activity and sending a report to a trusted friend or family member who can hold you accountable for your online choices. It shows intent and curiosity, such as when a child or teen is trying to circumvent a filter.

Accountability software, such as Covenant Eyes, should provide easy-to-read reports that create opportunities for conversation about interests, curiosity, and online searches. Accountability software is a great benefit if you use it consistently to have conversations with your kids about their world and their use of technology.

Step 3. Follow up regularly

This brings us to our third point: have ongoing conversations. Regular check-ins are key! Being aware of the latest risks can help you remember to talk with your kids – one way to keep it top of mind is to sign up for our weekly email. You can even schedule reminders in your calendar to talk with your child about specific topics.

There are so many topics to discuss that will help your kids be prepared to make safe decisions online! From how to stay away from porn, to sending nudes (aka sexting), to watching out for predators. And so much more!

By planning for discussions, you won’t let too much time pass between conversations, and you can dive deep into a topic.

Related: 3 Secrets to Porn-Immune Kids

These three steps take time, but it’s SO worth the effort. We want to raise our kids with a healthy understanding of sexuality and strong relationships, as well as being able to manage technology and screens well.

We do not live in a world where we can “set it and forget it” or where we have “the talk” and are done. Raising smart and healthy kids requires diligence from early childhood to adulthood.

Luckily, many resources are available to help you parent well, and the Protect Young Minds blog will keep you informed. It doesn’t need to feel scary or hard. It’s actually a great opportunity to really dig into deep issues about happy, healthy living – and build strong and trusting relationships with your kids at the same time!

Don’t miss part 1, part 2 and part 3 of this series!

Free guide to help you stay ahead

Be ready to teach and mentor your kids with our Quick Start Guide for Proactive Parents. It’s got the basics that all parents should know about defending kids from pornography. Just click below for your free copy!

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how to defend kids from pornography

Sam Black
Sam Black is a vice president at Covenant Eyes Internet Accountability, a speaker, and the author of The Porn Circuit: Understand Your Brain and Break Porn Habits in 90 Days. He joined the Covenant Eyes team in 2007 after 18 years as a journalist and has edited 16 books on the impact of pornography, how to protect our families, and steps to living in freedom. He has been married for 23 years and is a father of two.
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