Children and Porn: What’s a Parent to Do? – Seventh-day Adventist Church

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 Adventist Record

My daughter was 6 years old when she first encountered online pornography. It was during her “Angelina Ballerina” phase when one day, while she was looking for ballerina images online, a pornographic image popped up on her screen. She got a fright, shut her screen, but didn’t say anything to her dad, who was sitting right next to her but missed seeing what she’d seen.

Research suggests that the average age of first exposure to pornography is getting earlier.1 Many parents tend to assume that careful monitoring of their children’s online activities can prevent unintentional exposure to pornography. This, however, is not true. Most experts agree that it is not a matter of “if” but “when” a child will encounter online porn.

A friend of mine recently told me that her 8-year-old son came home from his Adventist school and said, “Mummy, my friend showed me pictures of naked ladies on his phone.” When she responded, “Well, that’s OK, you’ve seen Mummy naked before,” her son replied, “Oh no, Mummy, these were fancy ladies.”

Considering the many documented harms of pornography to children,2 as well as the reality that parents cannot prevent exposure, even through very careful monitoring, what’s a parent to do?

First, when the parent-child relationship is based on love and trust, children feel safe talking to their parents about their lives, including confusing or disturbing experiences. Furthermore, when parents and children have a positive relationship, children are open to parental influence. If we want our children to talk to us about their lives—and if we want to have permission to speak into their lives—we must nurture a loving, trust-based relationship with them. As you contemplate how you might be more intentional in doing this in your home, never forget that, for children, LOVE is spelled T-I-M-E.

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