I read an article on Christmas Day titled something like “Don’t Give Your Kids Porn for Christmas”. As I skimmed the article it dawned on me that millions of iPods and phones would be gifted on Christmas Day. This got me thinking a ton actually. Being an advocate against porn I didn’t want to see my little brothers fall into the same trap. So here goes with my famous lists. How can you keep your family safe?
1. Set Limits. Before I dive in this list is in no order of importance. You as a parent need to decide what is right for your children. I gave my little brother Mason an iPod Touch (my old one). For younger kids this is very important. I don’t want him glued to a screen. Now for us older kids we are already addicted and dependent. Limits should be set with caution when it comes to teens. There needs to be a mutual understanding between the teen and parent as communication can go down hill way to fast. Back to younger kids. My little brother is 5 years old. First thing is that the iPod stays in my room. Unless it is being used by him. Usually our conversation goes like this “Cody, can I play on your iPod?” my reply is always “what are the rules?”. The rules for his iPod are always in my room or the living room and always around Mom, Dad, or Cody. The iPod is never allowed in his room or without supervision. This conversation is a constant whenever he wants the iPod. Younger children sometimes require repetition to remember stuff but for sure it reminds him of the rules. Set passcodes for younger children and don’t let them see you typing it in. Kids will be kids and will likely get a hold of the device in some manner. Having a passcode is one step to keeping them off of it when they are not permitted to be on it. Speaking of Mason this leads into my second point.
2. Set Restrictions. In Apple devices you can set restrictions. These restrictions are about as many as you can imagine. Again, for younger children they don’t need to be downloading apps or making in app purchases but even more so they don’t need to have access to the internet or messaging. Now older children are harder. I would allow internet and allow the download of apps but I would set keyword restrictions. Pretty much one keyword is necessary. Porn. You can also block individual websites and some other cool stuff. Remember what a teen needs and doesn’t need as well as what a child needs and doesn’t need. A child is not doing research or writing papers. A teen is. A child’s only concern is if it has games or not.
3. Mothers and Fathers you aren’t out of this either. We can easily argue that men struggle. Guys being open to that struggle is critical. Fathers please talk to your kids when the time comes. You can put all the filters and restrictions in the world but at the core it is a heart issue. At first it is seeing if you “can” do it. Then it changes because you “want” to do it. Sorry for the mini rant but seriously think about it. Okay back to what I was going on about with this article. Remember that you are just as susceptible to this as your children are. X3 is nice software made by X3 church. The free protection is great for any Mac, Pc or Android. This software is nice and is great for everything but the iPhone. For iPhone users I recommend making the switch to safari and using restrictions. Have your wife set the password or vice versa. Don’t make it easy like your anniversary date (oh, wait. That’s a hard one for guys anyways…). You guys are supposed to be one. Make the fight for purity one fight as well.
4. Network Wide Protection. You ever have that day where you are sitting and looking around your room realizing you have to many devices. This is why I recommend OpenDns. Until this point I have talked about device level protection. This tip is for your home network (any and all devices that connect to your router). Lets start with the basics. DNS=Domain Naming Service (or server). This is the steering wheel of the internet. Every device uses this in some way or another. So for instance if I want to go to facebook.com. I type facebook.com and hit enter. In a split second a request is sent out to Century Link to their DNS server. This server then points my request in the direction of facebook in California (or where ever the nearest data center is). OpenDns takes that request and screens it against it’s filters. This is done at the router level. So instead of protecting your device (with x3) you can protect everyone that is connected to your network. Do not use this as your only defense against unmoral things online. It isn’t hard to switch over to cellular. OpenDns only protects your network. When you switch to cellular you are now using AT&T’s default DNS.
These are not hard tips to use and I recommend that you use them. My only warning is that these tips should not be used as punishment by any means. They should be used to keep you and your family safe. “With great power comes great responsibility”. I advise that you do your research. Again with older teens you need to be careful about how you talk to them about internet safety. Their lives are entangled in a web of social media that it is an idol for them. It is hard to give up that freedom. I would love to see family’s sit down at the dinner table and draw out rules for the internet. What is acceptable and what isn’t. For younger children even have incentives and rewards for following the rules. Like it or not technology is changing and it is changing our view of the world. Everyone should be using these methods in a manner that is pleasing to God.
Real quick before you go. These websites all have guides and tutorials. Only go for the free versions. The free versions are the ones i have used in the past. OpenDns has free options as well as X3 Watch. Now if you need a feature then go for it but I am not advocating that you spend a single dime on any of these services.
Below is a verse I have used in my fight against porn. We can touch and smell and hear but our eyes are unique. We can see depth and color. Let’s use our eyes to please God.
Matthew 6:22-23 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”