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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Parents, Be Cautious about Media and Gadgets

I've watched a few families face painful problems that might have some roots in young children's easy access to the Internet. A too-common scenario is a young girl or boy with unmonitored, wide-open access to the Internet, sometimes on their own computer, soon exposed to pornography sent from new "friends" met in chat rooms. (Sadly, this can happen even when parents try to monitor things and establish rules, but I think it's much more likely when the monitoring and controls are lax.) This can lead to unwholesome remote relationships with extensive damage done before parents realized anything was going on. The damage, in my opinion, includes grotesque misinformation about human sexuality and romantic relationships, setting children up for all kinds of problems later. Those problems include promiscuous behavior that is likely to lead to unwanted pregnancy, disease, heartbreak, and numerous missed opportunities for happiness and success in life.

The world we live in has become so foul in some areas that a few minutes of unmonitored access to some regions can cause lasting spiritual and psychological harm, just as a brief moment of using harmful drugs can permanently harm an individual. There are good reasons why our leaders in the Church repeatedly warn us to avoid pornography, a vice which can be like an addictive drug, one that alters how we view the world and tragically misinforms us, damaging relationships and making our souls more callous and insensitive to the things of God.

Parents, it is vital that you do all you can to keep this plague out of your home and to protect your children from exposure. Be careful about the access children have via computers, cell phones, and television. Talk with them and warn them about the dangers out there and what to do if they encounter something vile. Stay close to them and help them learn how to navigate the dangerous currents of our era.

17 comments:

Onhech said...

Good post, reminds me of The Meaning of Virtue blog.

It seems virtually impossible to stop the exposure of sexual indignities for those who have a curiosity for them. You can blog the adds, or can block the main sites but in the end if they are looking for them they will find them. Even with strict filters on google images it sometimes comes up with junk.

Ironically right now I have the TV going in the background (satellite) and a suggestive scene just came on. Filters did catch it or something...

Paul said...

While it is impossible to block everything, it does not mean we should not try.

Open communication is the first great line of defense, and children certainly can learn to find a way around filters.

But having computers in common areas in the house, arranging for limits to access when children are alone in the house (by disconnecting the internet or password protecting computers) are both helpful.

Nathan S said...

Great topic and warning, Jeff! Since reading about how some states have decriminalized the digital posession and sending of child pornography by children for the sake of youth who receive embedded or links to images from their peers, I have become glad that I don't have a cell phone - especially one that has pictures on it. After all, a minor may get away with receiving an image in terms of the law, but as an adult, I would not. Besides, I don't want those images.

One reason I think your topic and warning is so good is that a few weeks ago I seemed to get a spiritual impression in favor of warning people about pornography. I haven't found the opportunity since then - unless this is one - but I remember that as a child of perhaps the age of six, I found megazines belonging to a brother-in-law.

The pictures interested me and I found it difficult to stop checking them out. They were tremendously "soft porn" at worst, I suppose, but still, they were what they were. I've read of a serial killer getting his start of violence with violent sexual practices that were introduced to him through pornography. One need not act out violence to be harmed, however. One to whom sexual violence becomes an obsession, an interest, or even acceptable entertainment, is also spiritually damaged. Nor is that all, there is a slow, low level damage from pornography that many do not recognize whereby one becomes "poisoned by degrees" and thus becoming spiritually dead - or remaining spiritually dead.

Michelle said...

One of the things I always think about is how children's brains are still developing. Even too much exposure to devices for seemingly innocuous reasons (just communication) can affect their developing brains.

It's hard in a world where the use of technology is just so normal, but I think there are lots of reasons to be careful...not crazy, just careful.

Michelle said...

<a href="http://calnewport.com/blog/2010/06/10/is-allowing-your-child-to-study-while-on-facebook-morally-equivalent-to-drinking-while-pregnant/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+StudyHacks+%28Study+Hacks%29>Here's an example</a> of the kind of thing I'm concerned about.

I think we as adults have to be careful, too...not just for the risk of being exposed to sexually-explicit material, but just for the sake of our brains and relationships.



http://calnewport.com/blog/2010/06/10/is-allowing-your-child-to-study-while-on-facebook-morally-equivalent-to-drinking-while-pregnant/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+StudyHacks+%28Study+Hacks%29

Michelle said...

One more, just for kicks:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704025304575284981644790098.html?mod=wsj_share_facebook#printMode

Michelle said...

Jeff,
Sorry about the bad html and undeleted html and the non-embedded link. I'm really not trying to mess up your blog. This is something I think about a lot, so these links came to mind.

Anonymous said...

Jeff said, "There are good reasons why our leaders in the Church repeatedly warn us to avoid pornography, a vice which can be like an addictive drug, one that alters how we view the world and tragically misinforms us, damaging relationships and making our souls more callous and insensitive to the things of God."

Not only is it LIKE an addictive drug, pornography IS an addictive drug, but instead of physically putting the drug into our body, we are allowing our body to produce it through over stimulation by looking at porn. As one who is currently struggling with pornography addiction I can echo Jeff's words (and the words of the prophets) that it is something we can't entertain even for a minute. The momentary pleasure is not worth the longterm shame, guilt and pain it will cause you and your family. I highly encourage parents to openly discuss it with your kids so that if they are struggling, they can get help NOW.

For those seeking recovery, I highly recommend "He Restoreth My Soul" by Donald Hilton and finding an addiction recovery group, which has been absolutely crucial in my finding and maintaining recovery.

Clifford said...

The preface to the Word of Wisdom seems so appropriate to this discussion, too: "In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you and forewarn you ..."

There are physical poisons, and there are spiritual poisons.

cipherson said...

Well, the facts. 9 out of 10 male teens use it. 1 out of 3 female teens use it. Church's Combating Pornography site Make sure you read the full article.

I highly suspect the following:
1) In general, doing things which promote the delay and the frequency of exposure is a good thing.
2) Regular open discussions about human sexuality are a must with your children as they progress through their teens. By discussion, it means finding out how your children really feel about sex, intimacy, and lust.


I am positive we as a human race have not become more sexual as a result of physical changed in the last 50 years. I suspect youth and adults are spending the same percentage of their time preoccupied with sex as 30-50 years ago. The activity is no longer very private sexual thought and lust, but one using an aid(porn) for that lust. Not more than 20 years ago, the idea of using an aid for lust struck fear/shame/disgust into the hearts of people. Now, if your teen son has not done so, you have to wonder if he is normal.

Nathan S said...

cipherson: no need to wonder if he is normal; just be pleased and hopeful or grateful

Melynna said...

I think what cipherson said about discussing things with your kids is an absolute must. They will come across this stuff -- if not at home, then at a friend's house or somewhere else. There's no way to shelter them from it completely. Because of that I think it's important to tell that that it will probably happen and help them be prepared to deal with it when it does. As painful as it is, we have to just teach and hope and then trust them to make the choices we hope for. We only have so much control.As hard as it is, their lives are their own.

Michelle said...

A former bishop said it well, I think: "We want to put our children in an armored car, but we need to help them learn how to put on the armor of God."

I still will do what I can to protect them, but they have to know how to protect themselves with the Spirit.

Creek said...

One drawback to modern technology is that it connects kids to a world they are not ready to encounter. I cringe when I see 10 and 12 year olds with cell phones and blackberries.

Cell phones, Facebook, myspace, etc can be very dangerous.

catholic defender said...

Good Morning All,

I have an interesting take on this post. My thought is that all one really needs to do here, is parent. Its an old fashioned idea, something that's gone completely out of style in American culture, but it works when one does it.

See things like Facebook, Myspace, cellphones, internet, I-pods and the like are not inherently evil. In fact, many of these things are helpful, and fun, and when used in moderation, can be quite harmless. Enter parenting or lack thereof. Most of these new technologies become harmful, because parental supervision has become lacking. For many of these kids posting pictures on their cellphones that would make one cringe, its being done because no one has taught them any better, and they've learned from their peers, who have not been taught any better. Most kids don't even need a cell-phone, but because parents want to be able to communicate with their child 24/7 they give them cell-phones far too soon, but then don't teach them about safe usage.

Almost all the dangers that have been discussed here with these new media and gadgets, can be avoided if a parent just employs a little common sense. If you give your 10 year old a cellphone, expect there may be some misuse. In our family our son does have a cellphone because we do not have a land line, and my wife and I are not always home when he gets home from school. But, that cell phone stays in the house...it never goes to school with him. That phone is strictly for emergencies, and so that we can communicate directly with him if we need to when he's home. There's no reason for it to leave the house to go to school.

We as parents can not, nor should we shelter our children from all the dangers of the outside world. Doing so is just as harmful as allowing them to navigate that world without our guidance. What needs to be happening though, is parents need to be parenting and setting limits. Saying "no" is a really good idea. You don't have to say no to everything, but, its okay to say it on those things that are not good for our children. And that's where many of the problems with these gadgets lie, parents have become unwilling to say "no."

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

ejaz14357 said...

Open communication is the first great line of defense, and children certainly can learn to find a way around filters.

Anonymous said...

I personally do not think an adult looking at pornography is a bad thing. I have yet to see any study to show where it is harmful. I see lots of people make jumps in conclusions that it hurts marriages, relationships etc. But no actual proof that it is any more harmful than any other addiction.
I would suggest that those people that play video games all day all the while neglecting their spouse of SO do more harm to themselves and their relationship.
Porn is not the problem. People who can not control their addictions are the problem.