Did you miss the meeting? Here are some of our notes….
Deuteronomy 6:1 These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, 2 so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. 3 Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you. 4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
As parents internet safety takes both talking and technology. We are all familiar with the stats that have been shared over the week and from last Sunday. The fact is that technology offers wonderful ways of socializing, but it comes with certain risks.
As parents there are basically 3 things that we need to be concerned about when it comes to technology and our kids.
The first is Inappropriate Content. Children can be exposed to pornography, profanity, violence, hate, and lately, as we see in the news rising incidences of self-harm and suicide.
There is also inappropriate contact. The Internet and mobile phones put your children within easy reach of sexual predators, sexual communication from peers, bullies, and yes, those dreaded scammers.
Finally there is inappropriate conduct. Only online is there a perception of anonymity which can encourage behavior such as sexual interactions, profanity, bullying, or sharing private information.
As parents we have to understand that our children, as well as us, can develop unhealthy internet habits. There are markers that we need to be aware of such as too much time online and less time with healthy physical activities and real relationships. If they are distracted from homework (really?) or say they are always doing homework on the computer!!! Add to that late nights and them complaining of fatigue(although teens need a lot of sleep), not too mention an obsession with their online image! (Selfies)
We want to take this time to encourage you, the parent to protect your children and here are 3 easy steps:
1. Use technology to filter and monitor digital devices. Just as we teach teens who are learning to drive to buckle up first to minimize potential injury, parental control software can prevent or minimize exposure to harmful content. You can get accountability software for your computer, Ipod, Iphone and android off of www.covenanteyes.com as well as off www.xxxchurch.com
2: You are the parent and therefore you must establish rules for Internet, video games, and mobile phone use. Some people even encourage members of the family to sign a family media pledge! Just as drivers cannot receive a license until they pass a test of the rules of the road, we should be just as careful about teaching children rules for safely navigating the digital highway.
Here are some simple rules that you can use to help define internet use:
Who? Do you know WHO your children are connecting with with? You need to!
What type of behavior is expected when it comes to online use on postings/interaction? Have you taught your kids kindness, honesty, and to discere caution with all their interaction?
When? As a parent you can control much of the use of technology in your home. HAVE RULES, just has you do with homework, also have family meeting with open discussion and incorporate a family dinner time…eating together is something that is missing from our culture and around the table, great and honest discussions can take place.
Where? Just as the school has restrictions on technology use, so should your child when they are with friends, as well as where they are in the home.
The Why? Identify a purpose for technology use. Try to curb aimless surfing, which can lead to trouble areas!
How? This is where you educate yourself and your children with what devices, websites, apps they can use safely!
3: Talk continually with your children. A new driver becomes more capable as they continue to get instruction as they take the wheel. It is critical that we keep talking with kids as they grow and have new experiences with technology. In our meeting one parent said it was easier to talk about drug abuse then sexuality. We MUST have the tough talk…and keep talking about it. It is who we are and how we are created!
We know that porn use thrives among young people because it’s widespread, easily accessible, difficult to talk about, and there are not many resources to help parents. Of all the risks online, pornography is the most widespread and damaging threat.
“The pornography industry is targeting your child through online games, advertisements, videos, and so much more. If they can get a child hooked young, they potentially have a lifelong client. Unfortunately, if you don’t educate your kids about pornography, the porn industry will.” Fight the New Drug
Fight the New Drug asked teens what they wish their parents knew about addressing the issue of pornography:
“I wish they told me that it exists. That would have been helpful. My parents never even informed me of it.”
“I wish my parents would have talked to me at a younger age (even 8 years old) about sexuality and that porn is wrong.”
“I wish my parents understood that shaming me only led me to hide it.”
In order for us to protect our kids it is essential to talk to them about the potential threats. When children want important information, most rely on their parents for help on the issues that matter most.
As Parents, there are 4 important things to talk about with your children:
1. Talk about what pornography is
2. Explain why it is so dangerous
3. Practice what to do if they see it (HAVE A PLAN PEOPLE…WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?)
4. Encourage them for speaking up
WHY DO YOU NEED TO START THE CONVERSATION? When do you teach your child to stay out of the street? Before or after they have been hit by a car? In the same way, children need to be taught to recognize and avoid pornography before they encounter it and experience disturbing consequences. Many children are exposed to pornography between 8 and 11. Images can stick with children and create distorted expectations of sexuality and relationships. Children who see pornography can get trapped in shame, secrecy, and denial – the drivers of addiction.
Do you have a definition for pornography? Pornography, according to the dictionary definition, is sexually explicit pictures, videos, writing, and other materials. OR Porn is the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement. OR the material (as books or a photograph) that depicts erotic behavior and is intended to cause sexual excitement. OR the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction.
The word “Pornography” is rooted in the Greek word porneia, which means to practice prostitution, sexual immorality, or fornication. In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul frequently used the word in reference to any kind of sinful and illegitimate sexual activity. Here are two very helpful definitions of Pornography written from a biblical perspective:
“Pornography is anything we use for sexual titillation, gratification or escape – whether it was intended for that purpose or not.” Tim Chester Closing the Window: Steps to Living Porn Free
“Pornography is anything that the heart uses to find sexual expression outside of GOD’s intended design for relational intimacy. It is anything that tempts or corrupts the human heart into desiring sexual pleasure in sinful ways.” Living In a “Porn is the Norm” Culture (harvestUSA.org)
Children who are prepared by you the parent will be able to react to pornography by thinking, “My parents told me about this and why it is wrong. I know what to do – I will get away from this and talk to my parents.”
There is no doubt that many young people are viewing pornography. Studies have shown that by the time children reach their teens, 32% intentionally look for pornography online. By college, 85% of young men and 1/3 of young women are viewing pornography.
A child who has been warned about pornography could be more comfortable turning parents for help. Otherwise, a child may think that their parents do not know anything about it, or may not have the words to explain what they have seen. If it is hard for us talk about it, how can we expect our children to have the courage to bring it up? If there is to be any discussion about pornography, we have to start it.
Naturally, most parents hesitate to talk to children about pornography. These are some common feelings:
Being uncomfortable discussing sexual issues with our children.
Thinking our children are not at risk because we feel have controlled their environment by carefully setting up internet filters and safety rules.
Believing our children would naturally know it is wrong and reject it.
Thinking it is normal for youth to be interested in sex and bodies, and not understanding the deviant and harmful nature of today’s pornography.
Being concerned that talking about it will make children curious and cause them to go look for it.
Creating curiosity is often the biggest worry parents express. But we have to recognize that we can’t control when children will encounter pornography and avoiding this subject leaves children unprepared and vulnerable. We don’t want to give kids just enough information to create curiosity without all the knowledge they need to be completely prepared. Children need to thoroughly understand why it is harmful, how to avoid it, and what to do if they see it.
Be up front with your child about your concerns. You could say, “I worry that if you hear about pornography, you might want to see what we are talking about. It is natural for kids to be curious and want to find out about things, but the reason I am talking to you is because pornography is very harmful, and I want you to be prepared to avoid it anytime, anywhere.”
Explain the difference between healthy sexual relationships and harmful sexual abuses such as pornography, adapted to the age and personality of your child. A good way to help them recognize harmful media is to talk about the way bodies, relationships, and sexuality are represented in the media. Encourage questions and answer them openly so that children will come to you to find answers.
So, when should you start the conversation? Probably, earlier than you think. Any child old enough to go to a friend’s house, play with a cell phone, or use a video game needs to be learning age-appropriate concepts about avoiding pornography. You don’t know how much time you have before this confronts your child. Every time you talk, you are helping your child be safer.
There may be some awkwardness at the beginning, but as you make it a regular discussion, it will get easier.
For young children, start with what the child already knows. You could say,
“We have talked about wearing clothes outside and getting dressed in private,” Then you can talk about how pictures or videos of people who aren’t fully dressed don't show respect for modesty and privacy. When you teach children about good touch/bad touch, tell them that these rules apply to what we see as well as what we do. If they see pictures or videos of people breaking the good touch/bad touch rules, they need to get away and talk to a parent ASAP.
If you have teens and are just starting to talk about this now, it is never too late! Most of us have done a better job talking about sex than our parents did – but we really need to step up to face the challenges our kids have today. Admitting your discomfort up front goes a long way to opening up a conversation. You could say, “It may be awkward to talk about this but it is better than not talking at all,” or “I’m not an expert on this subject, but we can learn to be smart online together.” Or “I wish I had done a better job of talking to you about this in the past, but it’s not too late to start now.”
For teens, you can explain that pornography is media that clearly and openly shows or describes nudity or sexual activities and is intended to arouse sexual feelings. It can be online, or in video games, movies, photos, music, magazines, and books. Help them understand that it can be in any of these forms and more.
Now, when bringing up this topic with kids, they may react with DISGUST because they are embarrassed or uncomfortable; DEFENSIVENESS because they are currently dealing with a pornography problem or they feel accused of something they are not guilty of. Or SILENCE because they may not know how to react. They may open up with HONESTY - If your child is struggling with pornography use and is able to open up to you, be sure to offer support and love rather than disappointment or punishment. No matter how they react, that’s okay. Be patient. Most likely, they are listening to what you say. They may need time to think about what you have said.
Reacting without judgment is essential. You are teaching vital information and opening lines of communication. Starting the conversation gives them permission to come to you when they have questions.
Here are some harmful effects of using porn that your kids need to know. They will want to know why they shouldn't view it…here is why…
1. Children experience distress and anxiety when exposed.
2. Porn changes the way we view other people and eventually the way we treat others.
3. Porn damages relationships – our most important source of happiness.
4. Pornography does not show real, loving relationships. It is not a good source to learn about sexuality.
5. porn increases feelings of isolation, secrecy, shame, loss of self-confidence. It creates loneliness, not love and friendship.
6. Porn dissociates sex from emotional involvement.
7. Porn creates unhealthy, even violent and abusive, expectations of sexuality.
8. Porn gives unrealistic expectations of bodies, creates negative body image of self and others.
9. porn can lead to casual, risky, illegal, or even criminal sexual behavior.
10. The Physical effects – porn changes in brain function, even impairs sexual performance.
11. Porn often leads to searching for more deviant content over time.
12. Porn leads to the potential for compulsive or addictive sexual behavior. People who are addicted cannot stop looking for pornography even when they want to quit, and they need to get help from counselors. Pornography actually changes your brain, in similar ways to abusing drugs. As you prepare to have these conversations, it helps to understand the science behind pornography addiction.
Attempt to teach children to talk to you within 10 minutes or as soon as they can if they see these things you have been talking about, or things that don’t seem right. Tell them that pornography can make them worry or feel bad even though it may seem interesting at the same time. But telling a trusted adult will help them let it go and feel better. Practice what they could say to you, such as: “Mom, I’m doing homework on the computer and some things just popped up.” Of course, be clear that it is never too late for them to talk to you about something from the past.
Remember to water what you want to grow. When kids talk to you about their experiences, encourage and don't shame them for speaking up and they will be more likely to remember to keep safe and keep talking to you! Be a safe place!
SIGNS THAT YOUR CHILD MIGHT HAVE A PROBLEM?
1. Pornography found on devices
2. Increased pop-ups, spam messages, viruses, or other inappropriate content
3. Distressed when someone comes in while they are on the computer, quickly minimizing the screen or turning off the computer
4. Erasing the internet browser history, resisting checkups on devices
5. More time spent on devices
6. More time spent at friend’s home that may have access
7. More time spent alone, withdrawing from friends and family, more secretive
8. Staying up late at night, fatigue
9. Decreased concentration
10. Unusual curiosity about sexuality, premature sexual activity
11. Use of suggestive or sexual terms, irreverent comments about sexuality
12. Suddenly dressing more provocatively
13. Increased moodiness, irritability, aggression, disrespect, lying, defensiveness
14. Lower self-confidence, depression
15. Resistant to attending religious meetings (Seriously – this leads to a whole other conversation about the importance of youth groups, life groups and Sunday morning experiences)
What to do if your child is viewing pornography:
Breathe. React calmly and communicate your concern. Recognize your child has been caught in a trap and needs your support. Overreacting, judging, or strict punishment can add fuel to the fire of rebellion and shame.
Listen. Help your child feel understood. Ask questions that can help you help your child, such as “When did this start? Where do you most often use pornography? What can I do to help you stop?”
Validate. Express appreciation that they talked with you, recognizing that it isn’t easy. Tell them you love them no matter what. Tell them you know there are many teens dealing with this problem.
Help. Ask them what they plan to do, and help them set goals and be accountable. Commit to a long-term conversation about their progress, with regular checkups and continuing education on the issue. If they are not ready to admit their problem yet, don’t give up; be patient but continue the conversation over time.
Get outside help if needed. Most people who become addicted will need additional help including counseling, group support such as 12-Step programs, and support from others such as church leaders, accountability partners, family, and friends.
Pray…that is a big one!
May GOD place a hedge of protection around you and your family and give you wisdom to raise your children in this day and age!
Deuteronomy 6:1 These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, 2 so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. 3 Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you.
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.