How Can I Protect My Kids from Internet Porn?

Few are probably unaware, at this point, that Internet pornography is a serious problem, one that affects men and women alike, destroys marriages, ruins lives, and contributes to problems like sexism, rape, and sexual harassment. Our culture’s problem with porn is getting so bad that it’s even getting serious attention from prominent, non-Christian sources like in Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s new film Don Jon.

Nonetheless, the Daily Mail has still managed to shock and horrify this week with its profile of Martin Daubney, a former editor of a semi-pornographic men’s magazine. Daubney has produced a new documentary exploring porn’s effects, and according to the Mail, he has been shocked himself at how widely and commonly kids are exposed to porn. Kids he interviewed had almost universally seen porn, saying, “It just pops up [on Facebook] whether you want it or not…You don’t have any control over it.”

So, what are Christians, especially parents, to do? Is there any way to protect kids from encountering internet porn? Here are a few suggestions.

1. Don’t assume anything. Realize that, in all likelihood, you can’t completely prevent kids being exposed to porn unless you cut the cord and allow no Internet access at all. That probably won’t work for most families, as Internet access is ubiquitous and necessary for school, work, and more. So controlling and monitoring your kids’ Internet activity is something you can’t afford to ignore. Don’t assume, either, that just because you follow one of the methods below you can forget about it. Kids are tech-savvy, and you should stay vigilant.

2. Consider where and on what devices to allow Internet access. You can require computers to be used only in the living room or other public areas of the house where there’s no expectation of privacy. But what about smartphones, iPods, and tablets? Some families might decide that allowing Web access on a device that can be taken anywhere is a bigger risk than it’s worth. Special note: If you’re going to allow access on a mobile device like an iPod, make sure you understand all the ways it can access the Internet and consider whether to turn that access off.

3. Use software to control and monitor access. Some programs, like Net Nanny, block access to pornography and a number of other categories of objectionable content. They can be effective and difficult to bypass, but they have their drawbacks too—”false positives” are a frequent issue, and users may find a number of normal sites blocked. Other programs, like Covenant Eyes, rely on tracking instead of blocking. They record all Internet activity and send an alert to parents or a designated “accountability partner” if the user is viewing something they shouldn’t.

4. Talk with your kids. Make sure your kids know you’ll be occasionally and randomly checking their browsing history and confronting them if you see porn there—or, even worse, if you see nothing at all because the browser history has been deleted. Ask them, occasionally, about what their friends and classmates are showing and sharing. More important, talk with them about the goodness and beauty of sex in its proper context. Help them understand how porn distorts sex and makes it ugly. You can’t give your kids new hearts or make sure they never sin, but you can help shape their tastes, and their desires, from a young age.

About Jeff Cavanaugh

Jeff Cavanaugh is an IT guy by profession and a theologian by training. In addition to Christ and Pop Culture, his writing has appeared at The Gospel Coalition, Nine Marks, and Cardus. He lives with his wife Andrea in Louisville, KY. Follow him on twitter at @jccavanaugh.

  • LycanthropeDoomspire

    5. Don’t Have Kids.


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