The purpose of this post is to simply inform parents of the sexually explicit material that can be accessed through popular technological devices. I will refer to pornagraphy, but I want us to be clear that sexually explicit material is a broader view of inappropriate content. I have found that teens view pornography different than nudity in a movie. In other words, if the movie isn’t labeled a porn then to them it is not porn. I stand against all sexually explicit material that includes nudity, porn, sexting, lingerie sites and personal profiles on social networking that portray half dressed models (Sports Illustrated, etc). If the site is going to cause lust or could be used by someone for lust and sexual pleasure then it is deemed inappropriate. With that perspective and view in mind let’s begin looking at ways your children (teen and preteen) can and are accessing sexually explicit material.
1. Instagram. This app is free for ipod’s and all cell phones that have access to an app store so that would be iphones, droids, etc. Three ways your child could see explicit material is through direct messaging from friend to friend, following a friend’s public pictures and clicking on the star icon that I have marked on my personal instagram photo provided for you. By clicking on that star symbol your child has access to models, superstars and basically adults of all ages from all walks of life. If they think it’s cool to take a picture of themselves wearing almost nothing and post it on instagram, your child will be able to see it by clicking there. This is not good. Basically, if your child uses this app without you around they can easily see men and women in underwear and other things I cannot mention on here. I would recommend that if your child is using this app they are not allowed to click on this feature. (See below for more advice on how to limit usage and use responsibly.) This app, if not used properly or with pure motives can be very harmful. Be warned that if you choose to take this app off your child’s devices there will be backlash so be ready and be courageous. This app may be the most liked and cherished of all social apps from my perspective of working with teens.
2. Snapchat. In this app, teens are able to send a picture of anything to a friend that only they can see. Sadly, teens are using this to send their friends nude pictures. In recent months I have dealt with a situation between a boy and girl using snapchat to send each other private messages that were sexually explicit. I am not one for going extreme cutting something out of a teenager’s life completely unless it has serious consequences, however, I recommend your child does not have or use this app at all. In this app, pictures will disappear after a certain amount of time. Read more at http://adammclane.com/2013/08/22/why-you-should-delete-snapchat/
[Keep in mind I have not brought up Facebook or Twitter which also has risks of their own]
3. Xbox. I am not familiar with other gaming consoles like Playstation, but I do know that Xbox and Playstation both connect to the internet. Xbox offers apps just like ipods and cell phones. In Xbox media center teens can download an internet app for free and search the web for sexually explicit material. Teens can download rated X movies and rated R movies for sexual content. Sadly, young men have these gaming systems in their rooms and have confessed to me that they lose sleep because they are searching for movies and the internet for explicit sexual content. My suggestion would be to not allow any tech devices in your child’s room, including phones and ipods, especially at night.
4. Cable TV. If you own Television services through Comcast in particular, your child can access shows that are increasingly sexual on normal, everyday broadcasting. One station in particular is called G4. The G4 network is centered around video gaming but they also have sexual content on in the evenings that I have heard teens say they watch. If that’s not enough, teens can access Comcast’s Free Movie feature where they can watch movies for free and it will not show up on your Comcast bill. My wife and I have personally looked for free movies to watch and have noticed there are plenty of rated R films for rent. Put a block with a code only you know on channels that are sexually explicit.
5. Cell Phone/Ipods. The major provider of sexually explicit material is in the hands of our teens everyday. As I have already mentioned, cell phones and ipods can access apps and the internet. This means if your child has a cell phone or ipod with internet connection in the bathroom, on the bus, in the house or in public they have only a couple words to type or apps to click and they are viewing sexually explicit material. While these devices have been fun and entertaining they have also ushered in a new era of sexual addictions. More and more students in our youth ministry and around America are coming to youth pastors and leaders seeking help and confessing their struggle with sexual purity. Most often, when asked where they are seeing the sexual material, the phone or ipod is the source. Oh and we didn’t even mention personal laptop and computers sitting in our homes.
What should I do? I’m sure you’re asking what I should do with this information so let me give you a few action steps.
1. Begin monitoring devices. Get involved in your teen’s tech life. We have parents in our church community who require their children to show them all text messages, web history and full access to their social networking apps such as Facebook, Instagram, etc, daily! You can go into internet settings and turn on web history so what they are searching is recorded. For some of you, these apps are going to be deleted after reading this and that’s your prerogative. Personally, I would limit my teen to one or two social apps and begin navigating through it with them. I have one parent who looks at Instagram with her daughter and processes with her the things they see and approves her friends. If she sees that someone has inappropriate language or material that friend is deleted. I like how parent’s are teaching and encouraging their kids how to use these apps for good not for evil.
2. Limit usage. Teens do not need to have cell phones and ipods in bed with them at night and it has proven to be the source of pornographic material for most young men. In my home, we weren’t allowed to have television or computers in our rooms and I am thankful my dad made such a strong stand.
3. Start the conversation. I found many teens want help from their parents but they are scared to admit their struggle and parents are not taking the initiative to bring it up. Something you can say to your teenager is, “I want you to know that I’m not naive or oblivious to the struggles young men and women are having with sexual sin. If you are struggling with sexual purity and pornographic material I want to help you. If you need to talk about it please don’t hesitate to come to mom or I. We love you and want you to live in freedom, not guilt and shame.”
4. Download accountability programs. Thankfully, there are programs you can download to monitor what is being viewed on phones, ipods, laptops and desktop computers. The program I have personally used since college is X3Watch from the ministry of http://www.xxxchurch.com. Having a program like this discourages a person from viewing sexually explicit material because it sends an email of links viewed to an accountability partner. This constant accountability program should be something that is installed on all devices no matter if someone struggles or not, because if the issues or temptation arises the program will be there to discourage acting on that sinful desire.
5. Take strict measures if necessary. Take serious action to guard, protect and limit internet use when you see the need calls for strict measures. You know your child best. If they are struggling with sexual purity then as a family come together and take a stand for purity. You will not be liked for a while. This is when you’ll need a strong backbone and even support of other parents who have had to do the same thing. If you need support I have your back and so does the Bible. (See below)
There is a lot to be said on this topic. I hope this has helped equip you as you love and raise your teenager to love God and follow Jesus.
2 Timothy 2:22
Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.
Psalm 119:9-11: 9 How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word. 10 I have tried hard to find you—don’t let me wander from your commands. 11 I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Pastor Ryan 🙂