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Conventional Thinking: Merry XXX-mas?

As Christmas shopping begins, many parents and grandparents will be seeking to please their kids and grandkids with the gift of technology, specifically digital devices like smartphones.

According to one recent article, “children are getting their first smartphones around age 10… down from age 12 in 2012. For some children, smartphone ownership starts even sooner—including second graders as young as 7.”

With technology comes Internet access, and as we know, the Internet is shark-infested waters when it comes to dangerous content like pornography. According to Focus on the Family, “Some researchers have stated that the average age of exposure to pornography is down to 8-years-old.”

Whereas prior generations of children began by “viewing soft-core pornography found in magazines, today’s child lives in a culture where hard-core pornography abounds.”

So what can parents do in the face of this rise of digital destruction? I suggest three things:

// Protect

To give an Internet-enabled device to a child without any filter or specific instruction would be akin to handing a loaded weapon to a child without any concerns for safety.

Gail Poyner, a licensed psychologist who has written on this topic said, “How do parents fight back? Be cautious about giving children internet-enabled devices. Become knowledgeable about how filtering and parent controls work.”

There are many improved filter software and Apps, such as Covenant Eyes and Qustodio that offer affordable filtering and parental controls. If we do not take protections for our children (and ourselves), we are an easy target for pushers of pornography.

Jesus said, “And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell” (Mark 9:47). If the Internet is causing us to sin, take it out of the equation.

// Prepare

Even if you do all you can do protect your own family, it’s likely that your child or student will still encounter pornography second hand, either through peers or other media.

Knowing this, Poyner said, “Check all internet-enabled devices for pornography on a regular basis, but remember that kids can come into contact with it at a friend’s home, the library or any place where there is unsupervised use of the internet. Parents must become educated about pornography and how they can help their children know what to do when they see it, but also how they can help their children when pornography’s unimaginably addictive power has taken hold.”

Christian parents also must teach children, in age-appropriate ways, what the Bible says about God’s design for sex. We must teach children that there are inappropriate and immoral photos, images and videos out there that teach a lie and will ensnare them.

// Pray

Ultimately, the fight for purity and against pornography is a spiritual one. The best weapons in our arsenal are the Word of God and prayer. Through the power of Christ, and by memorizing Scripture and prayer, even the most addicted person can break free from the clutches of sin.

We must not give in to despair or think this battle is lost. There is always hope. As Poyner said, “With education, love and prayer, parents can harness… hope, use it to fight this devastating modern-day plague and in doing so, protect the purity of the hearts of their children.”

This Christmas, give your kids or grandkids these gifts: your protection, prepare them for a dangerous world and pray for them. These are Christmas gifts that will be a blessing, long after their digital devices or other toys break.

Brian Hobbs

Author: Brian Hobbs

Brian is editor of The Baptist Messenger.

View more articles by Brian Hobbs.

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