Defeating Porn: A Look Ahead at The Next Generation

by | Apr 27, 2020 | Pornography, Uncategorized | 23 comments

Teens and Porn: A look ahead at the next generation

What’s happening with the next generation when it comes to pornography? How will porn use affect them, and their marriages?

We’re in the last Monday in our series about porn in April. We looked at the effects of porn; at 4 things you should do if your spouse uses porn; at the 4 stages of recovery from porn. Plus we had a lot of extra posts throughout the month! I asked Connor to do some research into porn and sex trafficking, and some research into how big a problem porn really is.

And now, for our final post, I asked him to take another stab at some research and look at what is happening with children and porn, and what today’s teenagers may face. Here’s Connor!

This post contains affiliate links to offset the costs of the blog.


I am back with another post about porn, but this time we are going to be looking at its impact on the next generation.

Let’s talk about porn and our kids.

Porn is more accessible than ever before for adolescents.

Gone are the days of needing to go to the magazine rack in a store, picking up a dirty magazine, showing your ID, and paying for it. Anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection has access to porn right at their fingertips.

If a kid knows what porn is, it is so easy to find on the internet for free with no barriers to access. Even if they don’t know what it is, its not difficult to stumble upon it. Adult content is on social media, on game and animation sites such as Newgrounds, and in sidebar advertisements in many corners of the internet.

With it being so accepted and accessible in society, it’s no wonder that 53% of boys aged 12-15 admit to using porn [1]. That’s an upsettingly large number followed by an upsettingly low number.

It’s not just boys though. Also admitting to porn use are 28% of girls in the same age group, greater than one in four [1], though estimates of how many actually use porn whether they admit to it or not are higher [2]

So what’s the big deal?

I work at Bare Marriage, I’m a father, and I keep my ear to the ground in the world of psychology research, so it’s only natural that I would look into the effects of pornography specifically on developing adolescent minds.

Let me tell you, at first glance the findings are scary.

But as always, I am not here to incite panic.

Let me explain. There is a lot of research on porn use in adolescence and the results point to this being an issue that all parents, religious or not, should take seriously. I could write a whole research paper on this alone, though I doubt it would make for great reading.

Instead, I want to briefly list a number of factors related to adolescent porn use, and then just keep moving right on into a constructive discussion of what we parents should take from this, and what we can do to protect our children.

First let’s talk about what appears to increase adolescent porn use:

  • Normalizing attitudes toward porn use [2-5]
  • Poor psychological well-being [6, 7]
  • Sensation seeking personalities [5-8]
  • A lack of perceived independence from parents [9, 10]
  • Peer pressure [11]
  • A history of abuse [12]

Next, what appears to result from adolescent porn use:

  • Increased likelihood for females of being a passive participant in unwanted sex [13]
  • More permissive sexual attitudes [3, 14-17]
  • Increased likelihood of sexually harassing others [3, 14-17]
  • Preoccupation with sex [3, 14-17]
  • Poor psychological well-being [4, 8, 18-20]
  • Reduced religious values over time [21]

Finally, what things are associated with porn use, but without a clear direction of cause and effect:

Here’s what I mean by that. These things are associated with porn use, but it’s not clear if porn use CAUSES these things, or if kids who do these things are more likely to use porn, or if they both feed each other:

 

  • Males who use porn generally have more distorted assumptions about sex life and negative gender attitudes (women are dumb, women are manipulative and deceitful, women need to know their place, etc.) [10, 11, 22, 23]
  • Adolescents with relational problems with peers are more likely to be frequent porn users [24, 25]
  • Online gaming, cyberbullying, and sharing nude/sexual selfies are more common behaviours  in adolescent porn users [26]
  • Internet risk behaviours (unsafe/inappropriate chat rooms, disclosure of personal details, sexual conversations with strangers, etc.) are more common in adolescent porn users [26]
  • Depression and lower self esteem are more common in boys who use porn, though they also perceive engaging with pornographic material to be a source of approval from peers [27, 28]
  • Adolescents who use porn tend to have sex younger and more frequently [29]
  • Social networking sites are positively correlated with both perceptions of peer approval and sexual behaviours (1, 27, 28)

If that list of correlates seems daunting, good. If you have kids, porn is something that you absolutely should not disregard. Their brains are still undergoing a lot of critical development, which makes them more susceptible than adults to the damaging effects of porn. And accidental exposure is easier today than ever before.

But not all is hopeless. The best thing you can do is prepare your household and your kids before they are exposed to porn. And even if they have already been exposed, there are still things you can do to mitigate or undo the potential harm.

1. Talk to your kids about porn

Trust me, do it. As uncomfortable as it may be, it is so much easier to protect them from porn when they can help protect themselves. And they can’t do that if they don’t even know they should be keeping an eye out for danger on the internet.

A lot of adolescents are first exposed to porn before they even know what they are looking at, and their curiosity may lead them to seek out more. But if you sit them down beforehand and explain what porn is, why they shouldn’t look at it, and what to do if they come across it (in a way that is appropriate for their age and their exposure to the internet), you can get ahead of the problem.

Think about it. If they don’t learn about it from you, they will learn about from the world. Whose definition of porn would you rather they learn? And we HIGHLY recommend Good Pictures, Bad Pictures books, with the younger one for kids 4-7, and the older one for kids 10-12.

[et_pb_shop type=”product_category” posts_number=”3″ include_categories=”1652″ _builder_version=”3.28″ _i=”4″ _address=”0.0.0.4″][/et_pb_shop]

Let them know that porn is fake. It’s not what real sex is like. Let them know that it is harmful for them, but also for many of the actors and actresses. Even though they may look like they are enjoying it, it often doesn’t feel good, and many of the actresses are being forced to do things they don’t want to do. (For more information about the link between porn and sex trafficking, check out this other post I wrote here)

Talking to them about porn is like a vaccine. A little uncomfortable at first, but it will help protect them if they are exposed.

If you need help figuring out how to approach the talk, check out The Whole Story. With a younger and older version for each gender, it will guide you and your kid through topics like puberty, sex, porn, and hygiene at an age-appropriate level. Check it out HERE. And we’ve got a special on right now during COVID so that you can take advantage of having a captive audience!

You’re telling me WHAT goes WHERE?!

Talking about sex with your kids doesn’t always go smoothly. 

That’s why we created The Whole Story, our online course that walks parents through the tough conversations and does the hard parts for you!

2. Keep lines of communication open

This is just an important parenting tip in general, but is particularly helpful for porn. You want your kid to feel comfortable coming to you if they come across porn on the internet, or if they have general questions about the subject.

They will likely feel embarrassed, or even shameful, even if it was an accident, so it is important to maintain a shame-free and judgement-free environment. Otherwise they may keep it a secret.

In fact, research finds that poor parent-child relationships, low parental care, and low family commitment/communication are associated with more frequent porn use [11, 30]. This shouldn’t be the only reason you want to have a good parent-child relationship, but it is another reason that communication is important.

3. Raise them to respect the other gender

Teach your kids from a young age that people are children of God first, male or female second. This may seem like a no-brainer, but research shows that men who solicit prostitutes are far less likely to have been taught in sex-ed that women are equally deserving of respect [31]. It makes a big difference. Teaching them to see the equal value in both their own and the opposite gender can likewise reduce the appeal of porn, especially porn that is violent or degrading in nature.

This is important, because violent and degrading porn use is common among adolescents, and is associated with increased at-risk behaviours and their likelihood of being sexually victimized [32]. Boys who use porn are also more likely to sexually harass others.

Porn will try to teach your kids if you don’t teach them first.


Other Posts You May Enjoy:


4. Monitor screen time

Monitoring your kid’s screen time is not just a great way to discourage inappropriate internet use, but also just a good parenting move in general.

There are a number of ways you can do this, but I suggest keeping computers and TVs in common areas. Nothing discourages risky searches like knowing your dad is reading a book just a couple of metres (like feet but longer) away.

If your kids are just starting to be introduced to the internet, it is helpful to teach them how to avoid clicking on ads or pop ups. You can also have rules that they are only allowed to go on a few sites. If they want to add a new one, they need to convince you why they should, and then you vet it to see if it is safe. My parents took this approach with me, and I learned as a result that the internet is not a place to roam freely. It is a place to be cautious because not everything is safe.

If your kids don’t already have personal screen devices like smart phones, tablets, or laptops, hold off on buying those as long as you can. Non-smart phones like the Nokia 3310 3G are starting to make a comeback. They are cheaper, still call and text, and many of them don’t support wi-fi. You can also have tablets or laptops that the kids can use, but that are considered “family devices,” so they stay in common areas.

If your kids already have phones or other devices, there are still steps you can take. You might set up a charging station in the living room where all devices get plugged in each night before bed. You might use the device settings to set up screen time limits or to block certain apps. And, of course, you can always turn the wifi off every night at 10:30 (or whenever you choose). This also encourages everybody to get some sleep!

An important note here though: pick an approach according to your situation. You don’t want it to feel like you are depriving your kids of too much of their independence. That can strain your relationship, and in some cases can also push kids toward porn [9, 10].

Teenage Girls and Porn: Let's get real

Silhouette of sad teenage girl looking out the window on a cold autumn day

5. Install Covenant Eyes

Covenant Eyes is practically a must if you have kids in your house, especially if they have devices. You can put it on all of your kids devices and the home computer, so wherever your kids go, you can rest assured they are protected. You can set up strict filters so they can’t access questionable sites, but internet filters typically also block many sites with comments features, including Youtube. Covenant Eyes has a lot of configuration options so you can select the best coverage for your family, but the feature that really sets it apart is the screen accountability.

You can set up Covenant Eyes so that monitors rather than blocks internet behaviour. You can adjust how sensitive you want it to be, and then it will keep track of what happens on your kid’s devices, sending you a report of questionable activity. You can then review the sites in question and decide whether to bring it up with your kid. If your kids know that you know what they’re up to, they will be a lot more discerning in how they use the internet.

 

Find freedom from porn!

Your marriage, and your thought life, do not need to be held captive to pornography.

There is freedom. 

Beat porn–together!

However…

6. Be open-minded

When kids feel they need to keep secrets from their parents, they start to see disclosure as optional. And often, NON-disclosure will seem a lot less uncomfortable. That means that when it comes to creating boundaries around the internet, less is often more.

The world is changing at a lightning pace, and you might not see value in the same things that your kids do. But we need to distinguish between what we think is pointless and what is actually harmful. When we aren’t open-minded about our children’s interests, we risk pushing them toward secrecy.

Now, obviously, I am not talking about allowing anything that is blatantly harmful like porn or porn-adjacent material. But if your kid likes a musical genre that you dislike, or if they really enjoy a TV show that looks stupid to you, or you see that they have gone on a site that you don’t think they should have though you don’t have a reason why, don’t automatically write those things off. Recognize that there is a difference between taste and morality. Honestly evaluate these things for what they are, and talk to your kids about them. Find out why your kids are interested in these things and see if there is really any harm being done. If something is actually harmful, explain why.

If your kids are convinced that you only say no to things that are actually bad for them, they won’t feel the need to keep harmless things a secret from you. And you will actually be helping them to develop discernment for themselves as well.

When the problem is that “mom wouldn’t approve,” the solution is to keep it a secret. When the problem is that something is unhealthy, the solution is to avoid it.

7. Check in with your kids

You may notice a lot of the advice here is about communication and openness. That’s because it really is your best tool in the fight against porn. You can protect your kids so much just by talking to them about porn, and giving them clear instructions for what to do if they come across it. You want them to come to you, but you should also go to them.

Check in on how they are doing socially and emotionally. Are they having trouble with other kids at school? If they are playing lots of online games, what kinds of interactions are they having with other players? Are they being disrespectful towards girls in their life? Are they showing signs of depression, anxiety, or low self-esteem?

These are all issues that should themselves be addressed (and in doing so, you may reduce the risk of them seeking porn), but they may also be signs that your kids are secretly using porn, or that there is something else going on. Don’t assume, but it’s worth looking into.

Again, this is why we created The Whole Story (and my brother-in-law David and I actually feature in the boys’ version, telling some of our stories about battles with porn!). The Whole Story is not meant to be a replacement for parents, but rather a resource to start these conversations, so that you can keep them going. That’s what’s important–that YOU are actually able to talk with your kids about important things. So check out The Whole Story, while it’s on its super-low COVID price!

 

The battle against porn is not hopeless

Society has normalized porn, and many people see it as a rite of passage or a coming of age. But it is not healthy, and it is not inescapable. If you take the right steps, you can give your kids a fighting chance against a pornographic culture, while teaching them how to discern healthy from harmful. I hope you come away from this post with a better understanding of the power you have to safeguard your kids from porn.

Teens and Porn: Let's get real about teenagers and pornography, and what we can do to protect our kids

What do you think? Do you have other methods you have used? Is there anything that has helped or hindered? Let me know in the comments!

 

Sources

  1. Brown, J. D., & L’Engle, K. L. Xrated sexual attitudes and behaviors associated with US early adolescents’ exposure to sexually explicit media, 2009. Communication Research. 36 (1), 129151.
  2. Bleakley, A; Hennessy, M; Fishbein, M. A model of adolescents’ seeking of sexual content in their media choices. Journal of Sex Research, 2011.48, 309315.
  3. Koletić, G., Longitudinal associations between the use of sexually explicit material and adolescents’ attitudes and behaviors: A narrative review of studies. Journal of Adolescence, 2017. 57, 119133.
  4. Anderson, E. L., Steen, E., & Stavropoulos, V. Internet use and problematic Internet use: A systematic review of longitudinal research trends in adolescence and emergent adulthood. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 2016. 125.
  5. Wolak, J., Mitchell, K., & Finkelhor, D. Unwanted and wanted exposure to online pornography in a national sample of youth Internet users. Pediatrics, 2007. 119(2), 247257.
  6. Jones, C. M., L. Scholes, D. Johnson, M. Katsikitis, and M. C. Carras. Gaming well: links between videogames and flourishing mental health. Frontiers in Psychology, 2015. 5; 260. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00260
  7. Peter, J., & Valkenburg, P. M. Adolescents’ exposure to sexually explicit material on the Internet. Communication Research, 2006. 33(2), 178204.
  8. Vandenbosch, L., van Oosten, J. M., & Peter, J. Sexually Explicit Internet Material and Adolescents’ Sexual Performance Orientation: The Mediating Roles of Enjoyment and Perceived Utility. Media Psychology 2017, 125.
  9. Owens, E. W., Behun, R. J., Manning, J. C., & Reid, R. C. (2012). The impact of Internet pornography on adolescents: A review of the research. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 2012. 19(12), 99122.
  10. Stanley, N., Barter, C., Wood, M., Aghtaie, N., Larkins, C., Lanau, A., & Överlien, C. Pornography, sexual coercion and abuse and sexting in young people’s intimate relationships: A European study. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 2016. 1, 126. doi:10.1177/0886260516633204
  11. Weber, M., Quiring, O., & Daschmann, G. Peers, Parents and Pornography: Exploring Adolescents’ Exposure to Sexually Explicit Material and Its Developmental Correlates. Sexuality & Culture, 2012. 16(4), 408427.
  12. Larkin, M., & Thompson, A. Interpretative phenomenological analysis. Qualitative research methods in mental health and psychotherapy: A guide for students and practitioners, 2012. 101116.
  13. Peter, J., & Valkenburg, P. M. Adolescents’ Exposure to Sexually Explicit Internet Material, Sexual Uncertainty, and Attitudes Toward Uncommitted Sexual Exploration Is There a Link? Communication Research, 2008. 35 (5), 579601.
  14. Mesch, G. S. Social bonds and Internet pornographic exposure among adolescents. Journal of Adolescence, 2009. 32(3), 601618.
  15. Stavropoulos, V., Gentile, D., & MottiStefanidi, F. A multilevel longitudinal study of adolescent Internet addiction: The role of obsessivecompulsive symptoms and classroom openness to experience. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 2016a. 13(1), 99114.
  16. Douglas, A. C., Mills, J. E., Niang, M., Stepchenkova, S., Byun, S., Ruffini, C., … & Blanton, M. Internet addiction: Metasynthesis of qualitative research for the decade 19962006. Computers in Human Behavior, 2008. 24(6), 30273044.
  17. Stavropoulos, V., Wilson, P., Kuss, D., Griffiths, M., & Gentile, D.
    A multilevel longitudinal study of experiencing virtual presence in adolescence: the role of anxiety and openness to experience in the classroom. Behaviour & Information Technology, 2017. 36(5), 524539.
  18. Reiner, I., Tibubos, A. N., Hardt, J., Müller, K., Wölfling, K., & Beutel, M. E., Peer attachment, specific patterns of Internet use and problematic Internet use in male and female adolescents. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 2017. 112.
  19. Ševčíková, A., Šerek, J., Barbovschi, M., & Daneback, K., The Roles of Individual Characteristics and Liberalism in Intentional and Unintentional Exposure to Online Sexual Material Among European Youth: A Multilevel Approach. Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 2014. 112.
  20. Chen, A. S., Leung, M., Chen, C. H., & Yang, S. C. Exposure to Internet pornography among Taiwanese adolescents. Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, 2013. 41(1), 157164.
  21. Stavropoulos, V., K. Alexandraki, and F. MottiStefanidi. Flow and telepresence contributing to Internet abuse: Differences according to gender and age. Computers in Human Behavior, 2013. 29 (5):19411948. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2013.03.01
  22. Svedin C.G., Akerman I., Priebe G. Frequent users of pornography. A population based epidemiological study of Swedish male adolescents. Journal of adolescence,2010, 34(4):77988.
  23. To, S. M., Iu Kan, S. M., & Ngai, S. S. Y. Interaction effects between exposure to sexually explicit online materials and individual, family, and extrafamilial factors on Hong Kong high school students’ beliefs about gender role equality and bodycentered sexuality. Youth & Society, 2015, 47(6), 747768. doi: 10.1177/0044118X13490764
  24. Rivera, R., Santos, D., Cabrera, V., & Docal, M. C. Online and Offline Pornography Consumption in Colombian Adolescents/Consumo de pornografía online y offline en adolescentes colombianos. Comunicar, 2016. 24(46), 3745. doi: 10.3916/C46201604
  25. Mattebo, M., Tydén, T., HäggströmNordin, E., Nilsson, K. W., & Larsson, M. Pornography Consumption, Sexual Experiences, Lifestyles, and Selfrated Health Among Male Adolescents in Sweden. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 2013, 34(7), 460468
  26. Chang, F. C., Chiu, C. H., Miao, N. F., Chen, P. H., Lee, C. M., & Chiang, J. T. Predictors of unwanted exposure to online pornography and online sexual solicitation of youth. Journal of Health Psychology, 2016. 21(6), 11071118. doi: 10.1177/1359105314546775
  27. Doornwaard, S. M., van den Eijnden, R. J., Overbeek, G., & ter Bogt, T. F. Differential developmental profiles of adolescents using sexually explicit Internet material. The Journal of Sex Research, 2015. 52(3), 269281. doi:10.1080/00224499.2013.866195
  28. Doornwaard, S. M., Ter Bogt, T. F., Reitz, E., & Van Den Eijnden, R. J. Sexrelated online behaviors, perceived peer norms and adolescents’ experience with sexual behavior: testing an integrative model. PloS one, 2015. 10 (6), e0127787. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0127787
  29. Mattebo, M., Tydén, T., HäggströmNordin, E., Nilsson, K. W., & Larsson, M. Pornography Consumption, Sexual Experiences, Lifestyles, and Selfrated Health Among Male Adolescents in Sweden. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 2013, 34(7), 460468.
  30. Ybarra, M. L., & Mitchell, K. J. Exposure to Internet pornography among children and adolescents: A national survey. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 2005. 8(5), 473486.
  31.  Polaris Project. (n.d.) 2018 U.S. national human trafficking hotline statistics. https://polarisproject.org/2018-us-national-human-trafficking-hotline-statistics/
  32. Doornwaard, S. M., Ter Bogt, T. F., Reitz, E., & Van Den Eijnden, R. J. Sexrelated online behaviors, perceived peer norms and adolescents’ experience with sexual behavior: testing an integrative
    model. PloS one, 2015. 10 (6), e0127787. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0127787

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

Related Posts

Comments

We welcome your comments and want this to be a place for healthy discussion. Comments that are rude, profane, or abusive will not be allowed. Comments that are unrelated to the current post may be deleted. Comments above 300 words in length are let through at the moderator’s discretion and may be shortened to the first 300 words or deleted. By commenting you are agreeing to the terms outlined in our comment and privacy policy, which you can read in full here!

23 Comments

  1. Bethany#2

    I just went through your young girls whole story yesterday! I did it with my sister, just to check it out and we loved it! I learned some things, that I was never told about. She went home and printed up things to help her with her daily routines. We both had fun, and at some point later, I’ll be buying the whole package.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m so glad, Bethany! That’s great that you learned from it!

      Reply
  2. In recovery

    Such important post. I don’t know if it is possible but have you thought about making a list of apps that are like “high risk” apps for pornography? Like tiktok, kik, Snapchat and so on?
    Also what is classified as porn in those studies? I wonder because you find “soft porn” on people’s profiles today. Saw a meme some time ago where a girl asks her boyfriend, why are you on a porn site ? And the guy answers: “I’m not this is your Instagram account”
    While that is a joke I do get it because there is a lot of that. I know many talk about avoiding hardcore porn but it usually doesn’t start like that. I love watching memes(I’m very immature I know) and spend time on some meme sites and something I have noticed is how many guys make posts about porn addiction.
    One meme I saw showed a slide that you can find in parks and then a whole in the ground. And it said on the slide “when you searched for hot girls or beautiful girls as a kid” and on the whole it said “crippling porn addiction”. That post got a lot of attention and many guys were saying how horrible it was to be addicted to porn.
    As someone who is recovering I was sad by this. So many guys who dont know how to get out. Specially since it’s so normalized. Where do they go? I have had to debate so many adults and explaining my situation to tell them that it’s not normal to watch porn.
    I even had an online discussion with a 13 year old kid today that was asking if it was ok to watch porn images. Many were writing that it is normal. I tried writing a comment that he shouldn’t and told my story. But it’s sad.
    And it’s really sad as you say that it leads to young people sharing photos of themself. Sadly the act of sharing nudes is becoming so normal. And not only between couples. I have seen the very dark side of some of the most famous social media sites where thousand of women share their nudes and even sell them. And it’s seen as expressing their sexuality and it’s praised.
    It’s really sad

    Reply
    • Connor Lindenbach

      Hello, In Recovery, thanks for your comment.
      The definition of porn depended on the study a bit. In general though, the studies usually referred to commercialized depictions of sex acts. There were a few studies, however, that looked at things like how many adolescents actively seek sexual content in media, which includes soft core porn.
      As far as apps go, that can be a bit tricky. The riskiest ones will always be ones that allow for public user uploads and interaction, so primarily social media apps, but the speed at which new ones appear, policies get updated, and new user bases take over means lists get obsolete pretty quickly. Tumblr, Facebook, instagram, and Youtube are popular platforms that ban NSFW (Not Safe For Work) content, and Twitter is tightening up its guidelines, but some things still slip through the cracks. For platforms that ban NSFW content and are algorithmically curated, like youtube, you are unlikely to come across anything porn-like unless you are really searching. I’m not super up-to-date on the current social media trends, but we will consider doing a post that provides a more in-depth guide on what to avoid.

      Reply
      • in recovery

        Oh ok. Well I guess the NSFW depends on what you call NSFW. If NSFW is hardcore porn then there is a lot of other things that gets through. As I said before young people watching porn doesnt always start with watching hardcore porn.
        It can easily start with women in sexy lingerie on instagram and believe me there are a lot of them. As I mentioned before , its a reason I dont have instagram on my phone. There is so much easy access to women who dress in lingerie and do sexy photo shots and small videos and thats how it often starts. And as I have mentioned before sadly many of these women have links to their snapchat where they have private shows which turn to soft porn. Youtube has gotten better but again there is a lot of nudity there and since the world defines porn in a different way its so much easier that things like that is accessible.
        It would be great if you did a post on that because many dont know these things. So it would be good for parents to know that many of these apps have things on them that arent good. Of course doing all the things you have mentioned here can help kids when they meet it but its still good to know. Even if one knows that something is wrong its so easy to get tempted by it specially when all ones friends are doing it. So knowing as a parent and talking to ones kids about these popular apps and what they can find on there could be a good idea.

        Reply
  3. Phil

    Hey Connor – just a point of clarification I could use your help with. In the article you state that the User or Ally as they call it of Covenant Eyes receives a report of sites visited. Probably from hanging around here I broke down and agreed to being an Ally for someone using Covenant Eyes. What I received as an Ally are not sites but rather screen shots of the users activity. I do not own Covenant Eyes as we choose to use Safe Surfer. From being around men that have used Covenant Eyes in the past, if my memory serves me correct, the Ally would get a list of sites the user visited. That seems to have changed to screen shots only. The screen shots come in blurry with a suggestion for need for review or no need for review. The Ally can enhance the images if they choose (with a warning that the image could be explicit). From best I can tell there are no sites to review. Is this a feature that comes with ownership of Covenant Eyes? The Ally “uses” the images for accountability purposes. For the record the images when enhanced are real and can be disturbing. As it stands for me, the guy who I broke down to help, decided to keep acting out with porn regardless of the fact I was being informed of his activity. (Hence why I previously did not agree to be a persons “Eyes” in the past) I since had him remove me since he was totally disregarding it anyway. All that being said the disclaimer has already been laid out here that this system is best for use with someone who wants to stop and or for sure for your family and kids. I love when my kids come to me and tell me they cant access a site because of the protection we have on their devices. It tells me the system is working. I am pretty sure it is $15/month to have Covenant Eyes. From what I can discern the Covenant Eyes site doesnt give detail about sensitivity settings and ability to monitor actual sites visited etc etc. it only explains that you get screenshots and you can block specific sites. Anyway I am interested in knowing more about the features of Covenant Eyes what ever further detail(s) you can provide. Thanks

    Reply
    • Sarah O

      Phil I am so sorry. That must have been really difficult especially as you are on your own recovery. Thank you very much for trying and being available to help on that way.
      Maybe also post your questions to Covenant Eyes themselves?

      Reply
      • Phil

        Thanks Sarah – I do note that you can email CE and or chat with them. I just figured if TLHV was an affiliate promoting the use of this product they would have the details. Yes I can do my own research. Just thought if the conversation was discussed here it may be helpful for all to see. I agree that the article is great and believe also that as clb suggests below that having someone who has walked through this successfully would be helpful. Yes I know Sheila and Keith have done so with their daughters so they are certainly qualified. As for me it took reading here about protecting my kids to realize that just having a rule of no inappropriate content is not sufficient. So I did some research what seems like a couple years ago and found that Safe Surfer was a better choice for us because it block sites based on words and content. Covenant Eyes seems to only give you a report and allow content unless you tell it to block certain sites. This is an important conversation that folks need to see because what I have found is many many people for whatever reason do not investigate things they buy. This is apparent with Christian books as I have learned. People just buy stuff and believe it because someone endorses it and or just because its Christian etc.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Hi Phil,
          Great points! Covenant Eyes does allow filtering and/or accountability, but you need to direct it how you want to use it. It doesn’t come automatically with filtering, because for many adults especially that would cause tremendous hardship at work, etc. But you can give different family members different accounts, and then you can set the blocking to whatever level you want. Here’s how they explain it:

          Adult Blocking (standard) blocks access to all adult, pornographic, and explicit websites. It does not block proxy or VPN domains. Mixed-content sites (like Reddit) are allowed. Google and Bing are set to use SafeSearch.
          Family Blocking (blocks more) blocks access to all adult, pornographic, and explicit websites. It blocks some proxy and VPN domains. Some mixed-content sites (like Reddit) are blocked. Google, Bing and Yahoo are set to use SafeSearch. YouTube’s (moderate) Restricted Mode is put into action.

          You can also set different Block/Allow sites on each person’s account, so you could, for instance, block YouTube from your kids if you wanted to, or you could choose to allow Reddit for your teens.
          The blocking is not automatically turned on for every user, though. You do have to set these settings. You can see all the information here. Hope that helps!

          Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, Phil, accountability only is a deterrent to porn use if the person really cares. If they don’t, then none of this will work.
      I think it’s much more effective with teens than with adults often. I think if someone is being the “eyes” for another, it will not work effectively without understanding at the outset what the repercussions will be if someone violates the agreement. If someone messes up three times, for instance, I would inform both a spouse and/or a counselor, parent, etc. An accountability partner should not feel that they are required to keep anyone’s secret at all.

      Reply
    • Connor Lindenbach

      Good questions, Phil.
      First off, with both screen accountability and filtering, there are different sensitivity levels that you can set from the user or guardian account. Covenant Eyes rates sates according to how appropriate it is: E- Everyone, Y- Youth, T- Teen, MT- Mature Teen, M- Mature, and HM- Highly Mature. You can set what level of content you want to be blocked, and also what you want to appear on the accountability report. There is also of course a block/allow list. In terms of the reports, You get blurred screenshots of concerning activity, and also just general screenshots that are taken periodically, but you also receive the domain names of the flagged sites. I don’t believe they do direct links that you can click on (for understandable reasons).
      You are right, Phil, in that it is best ally for people who are seriously trying to get better, and for family, so you are not just getting reports of porn sites for no reason. Your safety is important too. I hope this helps?

      Reply
      • Phil

        Thanks – both Sheila and your response was helpful. The information Sheila provided I will be reading in more detail later. I am curious to know where that stuff is on their site. A couple years ago when I researched products I didnt find that stuff for whatever reason. The product seems more comprehensive than is easily represented on the site. I admit I did not do the “get started” button today probably due to my “this is a trap to get you to buy” mentality that I carry around with me. Maybe if it said more information here instead. Anyway. Thanks for your help. I will be checking it out further if for nothing more than curiosity.

        Reply
  4. clb

    It would be helpful to have a parent who has helped sons get through this successfully write about this topic. Not that anything written here is wrong – the article is well-documented and well-thought through. However, more practical experience might provide more helpful techniques other than these standard ones that are provided here and many other places.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s also why we have comment sections! I hope many parents will share their stories.

      Reply
      • Sarah O

        Clb, unfortunately parents of teens and children are “in the thick of it”, meaning none of us really know whether we’re going to be successful at the end of the day.
        Right now my kids are small, and the hill I’m dying on is not letting them have technology they don’t need and not allowing tech in the bedrooms. I fight to keep screen time under control and we use parental controls on the tech we have.
        However, as they get older I am working to anticipate other challenges. Like the fact that they will eventually grow more tech savvy than me as tech evolves. Or that they really need to have tech competencies in today’s world in order to be employed. Or that at least one of them is already showing mechanical and technical aptitudes (my husband programs for fun), and how do I encourage them while keeping them safe? I don’t have answers for all that yet.
        One thing I’m doing that’s not in this list is working deliberately on emotional IQ, healthy coping strategies, and healthy interests. I want my kids to be able to recognize and name their feelings and know healthy ways to express them. We’re using the time-in toolkit from GenerationMindful.com. “Feelings are wonderful servants and terrible masters”. My hope is this will reduce their vulnerability to addictions of all kinds. We spend at least an hour outside most days learning different kinds of plants, animals and bugs, playing games, riding bikes, etc. we read every morning and every evening before bed.
        I don’t want to sound judgmental here because parenting is HARD, but I think the trend of giving lots of tech and screen time to very young children, punishing them for negative feelings, and not giving them opportunity and guidance to learn to occupy themselves really sets kids up to be vulnerable. It’s not causation but when you have a teenager who is online more than half the day, who feels guilty when they are angry, sad, or anxious, and has no idea how to handle boredom…that’s exactly the sort of chasm porn is looking for.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          ** CLAPS HANDS **
          Absolutely, Sarah! I really do want to do a series sometime on emotional health and EQ, but I know that not everyone gets how important this is or appreciates it. In child development circles that my husband is a part of, they use so many flashcards and other techniques to teach toddlers emotions, and it’s so important. And then to help older kids name emotions and figure out different coping strategies for them. Getting angry at kids for normal child development issues is so dangerous, as Rebecca wrote about here.

          Reply
          • Sarah O

            Thanks Sheila! I would love to see posts on that, but I agree it’s kind of challenging to find the marketing angle. EQ is hard to measure and it’s correlated with all kinds of stuff but not necessarily causal, so it’s hard to say what the effects of raising it are.
            There are examples of Jesus experiencing every single negative emotion you can think of without sinning (sadness, anger, grief, exhaustion, anxiety) so it seems to me that we do have a responsibility to learn it if we’re seeking to be like Him.
            To encourage other parents, my husband and I both suck at this and are having to relearn along with our toddlers. That’s why we ordered the online tools – we don’t have them. We’re both stoics who shove everything down and therefore have addictive tendencies. Also I often lose the battle on limiting screen time. Reading and outside time take up about two hours of the day – the rest of them are a real struggle. Six weeks of lockdown have not helped.
            My two mantras are “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good” and “as long as it’s greater than zero it’s positive.”

        • Rogue

          Think the biggest hurdle in childhood emotional development is the transition from elementry age to/through teen years. But I’d like to think if you can maintain a truly healthy relationship that’s 100% open where your kids know that they can talk to you about anything and you won’t hit the ceiling, IE sex/relationships/porn etc., I think they have a good shot at their development. My dad gave me a quick ” talk” when I wasn’t ready, and it made me feel just a bit ill. I was aparently still clueless about what hapens when guys go through puberty too. So that wasn’t very fun…I was never told about the danger of porn either. Anything sexual that came up on tv. My dad just coughed loudly and changed the chanel. If I hadn’t gone to church, I may not even figured some things out. And when I did end up realizing that I had a problem with some things, I was not at all comfortable telling my dad, and my mom didn’t seem to want talk with me about it and didn’t seem comfortable with what she thought I was trying to say and thought I should talk to my dad instead. So, I ended up bouncing around trying to find people to talk with. Some stuck with me for a bit, and then I had to move on when it felt they didn’t seem to care much anymore and just kind of ghosted. I know it’s “not reccomended” but my gf is the best accountability I’ve had. We are very open in our communication and are not scared of tough conversations, and she will hold my feet to the fire. She’s of a different sort and is very pragmatic, and may be a better therapist than some therapists.

          Reply
  5. Nathan

    > > accountability only is a deterrent to porn use if the person really cares. If they don’t, then none of this will work.
    That’s the ultimate thing. No matter how much technology and double checking, the person has to WANT to heal and overcome. Otherwise, nothing will happen

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yep.

      Reply
  6. Rogue

    Currently using a program from a site called activtrak.com. They do not have any mobile options as of yet. Doesn’t matter because I use a flip phone with no browser. Reason I use this is because it’s free. With the free program there is a limit to how many computers it can be installed on, and there is a glitch that seems to make it stop reporting when it has an update or something, but that aside it’s the best free software I’ve seen. Runs invisible in the background and is hard to uninstall unless you have the program installer .exe on your computer. It doesn’t blur screen shots though, which is why it has been effective for me. I do not want my accountability partner to see what I might mess up with. It’s just not happening. It takes screen shots every few minutes or so. Will also send an alert email if you trip the alarm. It also has a real time monitor feature. You can set it to block specific topics, or words in the url. This software isn’t designed as a family safety software, but a “workplace productivity” software. There is a paid version with more features like bluring out credit card numbers. So you better trust your accountability partner to not commit identity theft with the free version :p . But seriously this has software has probably kept me on the straight and narrow more than I’m willing to admit. Still fleshing out the issues of my heart and I don’t think I’d be ok on an unsecured computer by myself for an extended ammount of time by myself, but I’m going forward day by day.

    Reply
    • Sarah O

      Proud of you and your progress Rogue!

      Reply
  7. Mama bear

    Highly recommend the website Protect Young Eyes (https://protectyoungeyes.com/). They provide tons of information about how to set up parental controls of different apps and devices, they have reviews of many current apps and what parents need to know about them, and lots of information about how to talk to kids about this stuff. They also do live presentations at schools and churches. And they review a number of different monitoring services including covenant eyes and explain which devices they work best on. It’s been really helpful!

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.