The world we live in has moved away from the long established values of virtue, honesty, civility, and love. Yet, history has taught us that a strong society and happiness, both now and later, are based on those eternal virtues. The long established values provide safety and consistency in our homes. Kids can gain confidence and self-respect to help them prosper in life, when they are taught to value themselves and others.
I see the threat of pornography and its ability to undermine families and all things sacred. I am not an expert; I am a mother. Children must know who they are…They are children of a Heavenly Father who loves them. Our bodies are special; they are like temples. Children need to know what pornography is…it is pictures or images of people dressed in little or no clothing, and it is anything that causes bad thoughts or immoral desires. Children need to be taught and shown modesty in dress and speech by us, as the parents. While there is no way to completely protect them from the ever creeping sludge of pornography, here are a few ideas to help parents and kids safeguard themselves.
Limiting exposure to pornography is vital:
1) Limit Exposure While Using Electronics: The days when a home only had one dial-up internet connection to a single computer are gone. We must adjust. Limiting “screen time” to a reasonable amount will help.
- Teach children that when they are watching their favorite show on TV that hitting “pause” during the commercials will keep them from seeing unwanted images. We have found this especially true during ballgames. It also gives the family some time to visit!
- Hand held devices connected to Wi-Fi make it difficult to regulate and observe what our kids get on. Kids must be taught that they are their own best filters. When dealing with the internet, the best advice I have heard comes from my thirteen year old. He says to click on the good ads occasionally. Then the ad companies know which kinds of ads you like and they will cater to your interests. Also, on laptops or Chromebooks you can set your screen zoom to 110%. A lot of times that will make it so the side ads can’t be seen. And when you are looking for a certain picture and go to the images during a search, make sure you don’t scroll down very far. If you don’t find what you want in the first couple rows of pictures, search again. If you scroll down to the bottom you will begin to find inappropriate pictures. To his advice, I’d add that it is best to get on the internet with a purpose. Random clicking and viewing can quickly get you in trouble. I know my older kids enjoy looking at social media…so the purpose is more of a mindless one, but in that I hope all of us will be careful who we “follow” and who we will let “follow” us. Surround yourself with those who post uplifting things. To keep from spending long amounts of time of social media, I like to look at the time in the corner of my screen and tell myself how many minutes I am going to be on…then when the appointed time comes, I am finished.
- A safeguard we have presented in our home is that you can only be on Wi-Fi in “family areas” meaning the kitchen and the family room. I recall my daughter, who has headed off to college, coming to the doorway of her room and standing there to check her social media accounts. We also have the rule that you can’t be on Wi-Fi, if the parents aren’t home. Occasionally, it is interesting to turn off Wi-Fi for an evening. One last thought…it seems that the world is infatuated with smart phones and all you can do. There is no doubt that they can be incredibly useful but there is also a potential danger. I don’t know that it is always wise to let kids have data on their phones. This is obviously a parental choice but at times too much freedom is dangerous.
- It would be a good idea to discuss with your kids’ friends’ parents what they think about the use of Wi-Fi and electronics in their home. Keep the communication lines open. If we work together, we will be a stronger force for good.
2) Limiting Exposure in the World:
- Immodest dress is around us and in the schools. I find myself putting my arm around my boys when we go to the pool or just to store and telling them, “Look at their eyes….just look at their eyes.” I have to insert a personal family story here, because it makes me smile…one of my boys recently got contacts. Before that, when we were at the pool he would take off his glasses and the world was quite blurry. The first time going to the pool with his new contacts he was appalled at what the swimmers were (or weren’t) wearing. He said, “Next time I am going to take out my contacts.” Kids understand.
- Sometimes the books we read present images and feelings in our mind that are wrong. Read some of the books your kids read. Talk with them. I used to read all the books my kids read. It is now impossible. We tell them that they will feel whether or not they should keep reading a book. I hope they will listen to the promptings.
- The way we dress could make us pornography. Be wise. Pornography turns people into objects. We are really children of God. Is the way you dress your three year old going to set you both up for trouble later?
- Off-color stories/jokes, crude language, and inappropriate music are each a form of pornography. They create pictures in our minds and offend the Spirit. Kids need to be taught to be careful who they spend their time with…and they need to be taught what is really funny and what is wrong.
Understand that this is a war! Pornography is wrong and evil and will destroy homes and families that let it in. Your children will see some pornography; it is everywhere. It is what they do after they see something that is most important. My husband has always told our kids to come and tell us if they see something bad. Pornography becomes a problem when it is hidden. If we are honest and push away those images, we will be OK. I tell my husband when I see something offensive and he likewise tells me. All of us can be caught in pornography’s web, if we aren’t always on the alert. A lot of us have heard that our mind is like a stage. If something bad comes on the stage we must push it off. (link to Boyd K. Packer’s “The mind is like a stage” quote) The counsel has been to sing a song to push the evil off the stage. As my family and I talked, we decided that for our day, with constant noise and pictures, successfully pushing something off the stage of our mind requires two things…1) in our mind we need to sing a song and 2) think of our favorite picture or image. Those two things have helped us. Another child added that we should have a few good songs and pictures ready to lean on, because if we always use the same ones we might begin to associate them with the evil…interesting thought.
I was delighted when lds.org put out a new video called “What Should I Do When I See Pornography?” Viewing the video with kids will help open a line of communication. I think the very first thing they tell kids to do when they see pornography is spot on. To quote the video: “First, when you see [pornography], call it what it is. Say, ‘That’s pornography,’ ‘That’s immodest,’ or ‘That’s a bad picture.’ Send a clear message to your brain that what you’re seeing is not good.” Then your mind knows. The video goes through what kids should do. I’d recommend it.
Kids are brilliant. If they understand why they need to stay away from pornography, they will figure out how. Like always, the best way to stay away from evil is to stay close to our Heavenly Father. If we pray and study scripture, He will be near us and we will have the Holy Ghost to prompt us. The world we live in and the technology we have are so full of wonderful things to learn. Being actively engaged in good things leaves evil no time to bother us. It is so much more productive to teach our minds to crave good! There is so much good in the world. Let’s keep with the things that build us and our families.
Pres. Thomas S. Monson of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said, “May I say to all of you, and particularly to you young people, that as the world moves further and further away from the principles and guidelines given to us by a loving Heavenly Father, we will stand out from the crowd because we are different. We will stand out because we dress modestly. We will be different because we do not use profanity and because we do not partake of substances which are harmful to our bodies. We will be different because we avoid off-color humor and degrading remarks. We will be different as we decide not to fill our minds with media choices that are base and demeaning and that will remove the Spirit from our homes and our lives. We will certainly stand out as we make choices regarding morality—choices which adhere to gospel principles and standards. Those things which make us different from most of the world also provide us with that light and that spirit which will shine in an increasingly dark world.” (link to the full talk)
The images in this post comes from pixabay.com