By Ryan Rice
According to Focus on the Family, the average age a child is exposed to pornography is 8. They add, “Before the days of the Internet, children were typically between the ages of 11 to 13 when they began by viewing soft-core pornography found in magazines.”
Pastors often see the dangers of pornography with many of the people they minister. The addictive nature of pornography has sent many men and women down a destructive path. We’ve seen it time and time again–pornography destroys homes, marriages, and finances.
Many pastors have helped countless individuals overcome the dangers of pornography. Perhaps you’re one of them. However, what steps do we as pastors take to guard our homes against the dangers of pornography?
First, we must guard our hearts. Scripture tells us that as children of the light, we’re called to walk in the light as He is in the light. If the sin of pornography is something you find yourself struggling with, seek help, come clean, and find forgiveness in Christ.
Years ago, a person had to search for pornographic images intentionally. Today, these images are easily accessible for the youngest eyes to view. No matter how hard we try, even the best filters can’t keep the world out of our homes.
However, as parents, we can seek to disciple and engage our kids with gospel truth. You may be reading this as a parent and wondering what you can do.
Maybe you caught your eight-year-old viewing something inappropriate on YouTube. It could be that your 12-year-old clicked on your Netflix profile only to be enticed by the image of a concerning movie and instead of scrolling by, clicked and watched.
Here are several ways we can respond as parents.
Have the Talk
Maybe you have been waiting for the invitation to talk to your kids; well, this is it. If you don’t know what your kids are watching on YouTube, Netflix, or even their Xbox, now would be a great time to search. Check the watch history and if you find anything inappropriate, talk about it.
The best thing is to have the conversation before it happens. Sadly, many of us learned about sexuality from our local public school. However, as Christians, we have an excellent opportunity to give our kids a biblical view of sexuality that glorifies God and protects them.
We must realize our children are sinners and are in need of the grace of Christ. Don’t wait to have the talk.
Don’t freak out
The initial reaction to discovering your child has been watching something inappropriate could be to lash out. However, this won’t help the situation at all.
The discovery could be a great moment for you and your spouse to pray, talk, and make a plan on how to handle the situation. James 1:19 tells us, “My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.”
Correction needs to come from a sound and self-controlled mind.
Set clear boundaries
Tablets, game systems, and other electronics are only as great as the parents who filter them. While internet filters are helpful, they can only do so much.
I’ve talked to parents who complained about inappropriate content found on their kids‘ YouTube app. Their kids had searched for their favorite cartoons only to discover an inappropriate rendition of the actual animation. These kids searched for this while parents were in the room!
What do clear boundaries look like for your child? Our kids have to earn not only TV time, but tablet time as well. For our family, YouTube is currently not allowed because of so much questionable content.
There are inevitable consequences when kids cross boundaries. Set them those consequences. Enforce them.
Spend Intentional Time
Our wake up call to the seriousness of this issue came several months ago. One of our kids was encouraged by a friend to search for a “cool” video on YouTube. So they accessed my laptop, typed in the search engine, and accessed all YouTube had to offer.
After discovering what they watched, it caused me to ensure even more boundaries were placed on my laptop. I had to ask, “Am I intentionally disciplining my kids?” Looking around at that moment–TV, phones, and tablets were the center of our home. Sadly, technology had become an escape from each other.
While technology isn’t inherently evil, it can become the parents’ escape from spending time with their kids. Just watch a movie, play on your tablet, etc. Our kids desperately need us to pour into their lives. They need us to spend time with them. Not only do our kids need it, but we could use it as well.
Listen, be proactive as a parent. Don’t leave it to anyone else to disciple, correct, and train your child in righteousness.
Today could be the day you sit down and revaluate boundaries and how your kids spend their time. It could also be the day you take back your family and home from the grip of technology and enjoy each other once again.
Ryan Rice, Sr.
Ryan is husband to Seané, father of Ryan, Jr., Brayden, Reagen, and Bailey, and has been in ministry since 2007. He’s currently the lead pastor of Connect Church of Algiers in New Orleans, Louisiana, which they planted in 2014.