Handing 6 year olds porn in school

STF AdminAwareness, Children, Home SafetyLeave a Comment

Yesterday a story ran in local news outlets about a 6 year old, telling his parents he had been exposed to porn while using a school issued tablet during class.

While stories based on the testimony of 6 year olds are very difficult to verify, that doesn’t hide one fact. This 6 year old boy HAS been exposed to porn. Yes, the school claims it checked the device and didn’t find the images in question, but that doesn’t change the fact that this 6 year old boy has DEFINITELY been exposed to porn. We know this because even if the 6 year old boy lied about seeing it on a school device, how else would he be able to describe a pornographic image to his parents (unprompted) without having seen one before?

So maybe it was the school’s tablet.
Or maybe it was a friend’s.
Or any myriad of ways that a 6 year old with access to the internet could be exposed to porn.

But a six year old has seen porn. And quite frankly, I am not surprised. Because whether or not it happened exactly as the six year old and his parents are saying it did, a world where six-year olds have access to tablets is a world where 6 year-olds see porn. (Hence why we sent out this link in December. “Please don’t give them porn for Christmas”)

In this case the school finally admitted that yes, parental controls aren’t perfect. Of course this admission carries all the comfort of finding out that the school playground isn’t entirely  fenced in, and yes it’s quite possible for kids to go wandering off onto the nearby highway, but at least there is SOME fence.

The reason that we give 6 year olds a plastic kitchen set to play with, is because no matter how good the supervision is, giving them real kitchen knives and a working stove to play with would be criminal negligence. A plastic kitchen set is DESIGNED to be age appropriate. A functioning kitchen and yes, the internet, are not.

In recent years, there has been a large push by school boards to introduce and make available technology to their students. And I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. More and more jobs require technological understanding and whether we like it or not, our children will learn how to use them.

Actually, that’s the problem. While well intentioned, the schools are focused on teaching kids how these devices work. They aren’t actually teaching them how to USE them. Most of our kids already know how to use a smartphone, because they were born into a world where that’s just how phones are. My daughter isn’t even two yet, and we don’t let her play with our phones, but simply from observing us, if she does get her hands on one, she knows how to unlock the screen, find photos, swipe between them, zoom in. This is the world she has been born into. But I’m not going to simply teach her how it works, I’m going to teach her how to use it. I’m going to let her know that it is an adult device, to be used maturely.

One of my favourite Bible verses is Micah 6:8 where we are commanded to “…do justice, love kindness & walk humbly…” I’m going to teach my kids that that verse applies to how we use our digital devices.

And I’ll teach them that the internet is a wild west of craziness, and we need to be careful about how we travel its many paths. I’ll teach them not only be careful to avoid its pitfalls, but what to do when we encounter them.

This type of teaching is what we need to demand of our schools. But before we get there we probably need to start demanding that our teachers are themselves more informed about pornography and how to deal with it.

One teacher I know in Israel told us that they had started having mandatory training for teachers on what is going on in the world of online pornography. Simply being told what kids are being exposed to made some of the teachers physically ill. Maybe if our teachers understood this, they would be a little more careful with devices in the classroom?

The other thing we need to start thinking about as parents/teachers is a different approach to internet filtering. Instead of using filters that try to catch bad content, what about filters that only let in pre-approved good content? For more on this approach, watch the video we made with our friends at DNSThingy.com

What can you do?

The best thing you can do is stay informed. Learn the truth about pornography for yourself. 11 Things To Know About Porn, is a great place to start.

Covenant Eyes has a great compilation of statistics.

Contact us if you would like to book our workshop “The Porn-Free Family”

Sign-up for Covenant Eyes for Filtering & accountability software

Order DNSThingy for a whole different way to protect your home

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