3 Reasons To Have That ‘Awkward’ Conversation

Call it old-fashion. Call it overprotective. Call it parenting. Call it what you want. But if you are not monitoring your child’s phone and internet use, here are three reasons you need to reconsider and have a serious conversation.

#1 – Because Kids Are Hiding It From You

It is not difficult for kids to find a way to hide their online activity. More than seven out of 10 teens, according to Covenant Eyes, admit to hiding their online behavior from their parents in some way. Whether it be clearing browsing history, using private browsing settings, deleting videos, creating secret accounts, or simply just using their phone instead of the home computer, 70 percent of kids are hiding something.

Private browsing without filters is just a click away from going totally incognito. Once they leave private browsing, all evidence and memory is lost…from the computer that is. When I used to view pornography, that was my strategy. Simple. Erased. It never happened.

Speaking of porn. That takes us to #2.

#2 – Because They Are Looking At Porn

Fifty-five percent of teens reported, according to Journal of Adolescent Health, they had visited a sexually explicit site. And maybe you’re thinking “they couldn’t do that on the family laptop, could they?” Actually, they could. BBC reported in 2009 that sex was the fourth most used term and porn was the 6th most used in searches done by children in homes that used Norton Family, a program designed to help parents monitor children’s online behavior. So yes, the family laptop you thought was so sacred may have been defiled.

And it certainly does not stop on the home computer. Most teens now have their own phone or mobile device, which has given kids unlimited access like no other time in history. It’s hand-held, easy, and most of the time, very private. A quarter of a billion people, according to Juniper Research, are expected to access porn from their mobile devices in 2017. The porn industry executives, according to XBIZ Research Report, believe phones may become the main device for users to access porn.

Most teens I know hold their phone to be the dearest and closest thing they own. And many parents, especially as the teen gets older, let their kid privatize their device. It is theirs, and even though most parents front the bill, parents have no access. It sleeps in their room with them with unlimited access to all the internet has to provide. That has got to change. Because it gets worse…

#3 – Because It’s Starting in 6th Grade

The first exposure to pornography, according to The Journal of Sex Research, is 12 years old for boys. Yep. 6th grade. They, or a friend, could be accessing porn from their tablet, while using private browsing setting, right under your nose.
The Washington Post reported that about 70 million people visit pornographic sites each week, and, of those, 11 million are younger than 18. If those numbers hold true in 2004, we can deduce the number is much higher in 2016.

*** The Conversation ***

The harming effects of porn use, especially at a young age, are vast and detrimental. And as parents, we have a duty and responsibility to protect our kids. There are web filters such as Covenant Eyes and NetNanny that can give parents the power to monitor activity and we should definitely take action with those. But at the end of the day, those programs may not be enough – if they do not lead to a conversation.

Because according to sociologist Dr. Patricia M. Greenfield, “A warm and communicative parent-child relationship is the most important factor in reducing porn use among children.” The software and protection are likely necessary. But the conversation is the most authentic way to monitor, prevent, or stop this activity.

We cannot bury our heads in the sand and pretend it doesn’t exist. Because it does. It exists at every turn of their lives. If we cannot have an open conversation about the barrage of sexual content, sexual innuendos, and sexually driven advertisements and media, we will continue to be part of the problem, allowing the world’s warped view to become the educator of our teens.

If we do not step up and start the conversation, believe me, the world will talk to them loud and clear.

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