by Joshua Gilman
Don’t give kids Smart-Phones. That is Jonathon Van Maren’s conclusion in his recap after The Coalition on Sexual Exploitation Summit.
Some people loved the article, some people didn’t, and some people had good follow up questions. I’d like to address some of those questions. Or rather, the context of the conversation.
Before getting into the particulars, I’d like to really emphasis one thing. The porn industry hates your kids. It really, really hates your kids. To a porn company, your child is a commodity. Every view, every click is money in their pockets. So they want your kids as young as possible. Firstly, because the younger they are exposed, the more likely it will turn into a full-blown life-altering addiction. And that’s the jackpot for them. When your child’s brain has been literally re-wired to be incapable of intimacy with a real living human, their mission is complete. Your child is their new bank account.
Secondly, they want your children to be pornography. Recently I had a sobering conversation with ex-porn star and ex-porn recruiter Jessica Neely. She was telling us how recruiting was so easy. “Just find the girl with the most selfies. She has no self-esteem and as soon as you tell her she is beautiful she’ll do whatever you want”. Between her and Nancy Jo Sales, author of Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers, it was a sobering wake-up call for even me on how well the porn companies have spread their message that you are simply your body. That’s all anyone is worth. And if we are all just bodies without souls, who cares what we do to each other?
So your child seeing pornography is not a side-effect of the pervasiveness of porn. Your child seeing porn is their business plan. That’s why they tag porn videos with the names of Disney characters. Hide links to porn on “innocent” game sites. Upload hardcore porn to YouTube embedded in instructional gameplay videos. They want your child to see humans as things. They want your child to think their body is all they’re worth. And most importantly, they don’t need to put much effort into recruiting new “talent”. They’ll have done it to themselves. As many before me have said, “Porn wants our sons to need porn, and it trains our daughters to be porn.”
For me, as a father, this is what matters. There are a lot of things that I need to prepare my children for. A lot of vices that will reach out to grab them. As a Christian I believe that many of their flaws are present by the simple fact that they are human. And we have much to overcome as fallen humans. However, no other vice, no other sin, has a 98 billion dollar industry, whose business plan is built around my child being affected. No other trouble they may face has an industry hell-bent on them suffering. As a father, I take this very, very seriously.
So instead of telling you what you should do. I’m going to tell you what I’m going to do.
First of all. I’m going to do everything I can to model a different value system. By the way I treat my wife, by the way I treat my kids themselves; I want to be an example of what true sacrificial love is.
I’m going to talk to them about sex & porn. I’m going to tell them the truth. I’m going to make this an ongoing conversation and not a one-stop talk. I want them to know that whatever they hear with their friends, at the playground, at school or at church, they can talk to me about. To quote Josh McDowell “If your kids can tell you when you had “the talk”. You failed””. I want my kids to know that I am the most trustworthy, most open and honest person in the whole world when it comes to these difficult subjects. And when they do see pornography, somewhere, somehow, I’ll still be there to talk to them about it.
When it comes to technology, I’m going to do my best to live in a way that doesn’t idolize celebrity culture. I want them to know that I don’t care about likes, clicks or shares. That the things I care most about are the people I actually see in front of me, and that the things I find most beautiful are the things that have been around for thousands of years instead of the latest and flashiest. I want to sit with them and enjoy a sunset and talk about beauty, not Instagram it. And then we’ll talk about technology and how we can use it for good. How even social media can be a tool for good when we are responsible and purposeful with it.
If I do all these things, then I hope that when it comes time to actually talk about technology that they understand. They’ll understand that our society has a distraction problem and they don’t need it. That the porn companies want access to them and they don’t have to give it to them and that technology can be used to enhance life, not replace it.
To try to simply remove negative things from my kids lives would be to shelter them. To be the fence around the sapling, or the umbrella over the flower. They will grow free of disease, but they will be weak. And they will be unable to handle the winds of life. But if I talk to my kids, prepare them, make sure they are growing on solid ground, then they can grow up protected from some of these things. I’m going to put a filter on our computer not because I’m terrified we’ll all be addicted to porn tomorrow, but because we simply don’t accept the internet as it currently is.
And yes, my kids won’t have a cell-phone until they actually need one. (Likely when they get a driver’s licence). And I will likely never buy them a smart-phone unless we see great advances in the removal of negative content online. Because giving the pornographers access to them just isn’t worth it to me. And I hope that when they are old enough to get their own, they’ll be ready for this world.
Dr. Mary Anne Layden said, when asked about why we need to go after the porn industry, “It’s not enough to try to pull our children out of the river, we have to go upstream and figure out who is pushing them in.” I wholeheartedly agree. And I hope that through protecting them from those that would seek to push them in, I will also have enough time to strengthen them, so that when the push does come, they’ll be strong enough to push back.
What can I do?
If you’re looking for a place to start that conversation with your kids. We can’t recommend Good Pictures, Bad Pictures enough.
If your family is looking for filtering and accountability, Covenant Eyes is the place to start.
If you would like to bring us to you to give a talk or workshop on protecting children in a pornified world. Send us an invite!
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