Protect kids online

Installing Internet filters and device restrictions is definitely one way to provide a layer to protect your kids online but it’s not enough. Certain apps offer search engines that don’t get recognized by filters. If your child wants to look, it isn’t hard for them to find a way around basic restrictions and not get caught. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have filters and restrictions—those are still important. You just can’t expect those to do the job for you. You need to go deeper with your kids.

Uncomfortable conversations

As difficult as it might be, you must have an uncomfortable conversation with your kids about what they can encounter on the Internet. This conversation isn’t easy, but it’s imperative. You would never allow your child to go unprepared into any foreign situation without explaining the dangers to them. How often have you warned your child to tell an adult if there is an unlocked firearm at a home? Consider how many times you are grabbed your child’s arm at a busy intersection. What about warning them about not getting into strange cars? This conversation is the same thing except you are guarding their minds against the indescribable scenarios they could stumble upon unknowingly. You are preparing and arming them for a day that will surely come.

Keep your conversation age-appropriate. If you have younger kids, you don’t have to describe in any detail what pornography imagery is or looks like. You can simply explain the that the images distort the act of sex and treat women as objects rather than people with thoughts, feelings, and importance. As they become older, explain that there are images that will cause curiosity and confusion for them. You can also share that they shouldn’t feel ashamed if the images interest them a bit, humans are sexual beings after all. Making the act of viewing pornography feel shameful will only drive them to hide it from you. Tell them you want them to share when/if they see imagery they suspect could be porn. If they share they’ve already seen porn, ask them questions. How did it make them feel? If they found it enticing, assure them that is how this industry tries to ensnare people. Ask them if their friends look at porn. Don’t let them feel the conversation is punishing. Keep it light so they feel comfortable to have future conversations.

To protect your kids online, don’t just have one conversation and consider your job done. Have periodic check-ins.

Keep it in the open

Another way to protect kids online is to have your child’s primary computer located in a public location, not in their room. Having their PC out in the open will discourage any pornography viewing. If they have tablet devices or smartphones, don’t let them keep those devices in their room at night. This is a good idea anyway to allow them to not have interrupted sleep. Do spot checks on their Internet history on all devices.

If you live in the northern Colorado area—Fort Collins, Greeley, Windsor, or Loveland—contact Mending Hearts Counseling for more information about how to protect your kids online.

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