by Jenny Mathews, contributing writer

Let’s be honest, to REALLY “Porn-Proof” your family, you’d have to move them to the moon, leaving the Internet behind altogether. Pornography is everywhere online, and so is a growing wealth of research proving its dangers. Pornography addiction damages brains, relationships, families and society as a whole. Being proactive will give your family the best chance of becoming “Porn-Proof.”

one young teenager boy or girl silhouette computer computing typ

When I was a child, my siblings and I found some old dirty magazines hidden in the home we had just moved in to. While it was a bit of a shock, the magazines were quickly disposed of and that was about it. Pornography today is quite a bit different than a hidden dirty magazine. Here are some reasons why:

• Unlimited sources of free porn online, increased ease and frequency of “stumbling upon” pornography
• Occasionally viewing “porn” is less taboo in today’s society
• Hardcore pornography is also easier to access

Take heart parents! Along with the negative, comes the positive:

• We have more resources than ever to support our efforts to restrict and protect our children: Research results, websites, articles, journals and testimonials, helpful Internet safety tools, apps, software, etc. are all on the rise
• People are talking about it! While the subject is still somewhat intimidating, there’s no doubt people are talking, posting, emailing, wearing wristbands and t-shirts

“What are some good tools and apps that we can use to keep our kids safe from pornography online?”

Greg Ellis at Expercom suggests:
“Parents need to know more about devices and Internet settings than their kids. Educate yourself to protect your family. First, check out OpenDNS. It’s a filter that goes on your router, so it protects every device in your home. Plus, it’s free for home users. On your Mac, create a separate user account for the kids. Turn on parental controls for that user to limit the websites they can visit, people they can text or email and even how long they can use the computer. For iPhones and iPads, turn on Restrictions in the Settings app, then disable the standard web browser and YouTube apps. Replace those apps with a filtered app. Use K9 Web Protection for the web and YouTube Kids.”

“What is a good time/age to start talking to your children about pornography?”

Dr. Barrett P. Labrum, D.O. (Primary Care Pediatrics) said:
“The easy answer to this is if they are old enough to be on a computer, they should be taught and warned about the dangers. But it is more complicated than this. Talking about sex and sexuality should start very early. It is important for your toddler-age child to have healthy discussions about appropriate touching and about their own private parts. They should feel comfortable talking to you about these things and this dialogue should be ongoing, in an age-appropriate nature, until they are no longer living in your home,and for some even later. As they approach grade school and begin to be exposed to inappropriate material, they should already have a plan of action to get rid of the material and should feel comfortable talking to you about what they saw. When it comes to teaching your children about sex and sexuality, keeping an open dialogue beginning at a very young age allows your child to learn the positive aspects of sexuality before they are bombarded with the negative and counterfeit ideas.”

What should you do if your child has already been exposed to or is already addicted to pornography?

Focusonthefamily.com suggests:
1. Evaluate what precautions and signs were missed and take ownership as a parent. Types of media allowed, lack of restrictions/supervision/discipline, lack of appropriate and thorough sex education?
2. Is there any possibility of sexual abuse? Examine the possibility of this sad reality.
3. Prepare yourself by reading as much as you can. How you react will likely determine how effective your intervention will be.
4. Gauge your expectations. There will most likely be denial, blame, aggression and shame.
5. Set boundaries and accountability measures with obvious guidelines and consequences.
6. Follow up and follow through!
7. Safeguard other children.
8. Seek the help of trustworthy mentors, counselors, religious leaders, etc.

For additional helpful information, we suggest the following sources: fightthenewdrug.org, pornproofkids.com

Links for the apps:
Open DNS (not really an App, but a service for your router): http://bit.ly/1Gz6AS8
OS X Parental Controls: http://support.apple.com/kb/VI28
K9 Protection: http://apple.co/1deIrDz
YouTube for Kids: http://apple.co/1zDnpqn