Next Step Internet Safety: 3 Tips to Help Kids Install an Internal Filter

by Kristen A. Jenson (originally published on Net Nanny’s blog, The Nanny Notes as Internet Safety: The Biggest Mistake (Smart) Parents Make)

Next Step Internet SafetyA little girl goes to a friend’s home to play. Instead of playing with dolls, the two girls hide away in the closet and watch hard-core porn on the family’s iPad.

Is the fact that the iPad was not password-protected the biggest mistake her parents made?

No.

Smart parents understand that the Internet is a dangerous place for kids. To protect their children’s developing minds, they install filters on their computers and password protect mobile devices. They may even reach out to other parents to make sure they are doing the same.

Their biggest mistake? To think they’ve done enough.

So if a parent has already installed Internet filters, what else can they do to protect their kids? The answer: Teach them to install their own internal filter.

What’s an Internal Filter?

It’s the understanding of what pornography is, how it affects their brain, and an action plan to use when they are innocently exposed to it.

Here are three steps to help your kids install their own filter.

  1. Define the word pornography.
  2. Explain that viewing pornography can hurt their brain (just like drugs).
  3. Give them an action plan to use when they see sexually explicit media.

Define Pornography

Dr. Jill C. Manning

Some parents shy away from even saying the word pornography, but that just gives it more power. Jill Manning, PhD, author of What’s the Big Deal About Pornography?  and an expert who has testified before Congress on the dangers of pornography, advises parents to define the term so kids are clear about what we want them to avoid.

“Being clear on what pornography is and how to recognize it is the first step to protecting ourselves.”

Let’s bring this darkness out into the light without apology or shame. For some great tips, check out How to Define Pornography for a 7-Year Old.

Pornography Can Hurt the Brain

More and more brain research is demonstrating what mental health practitioners already know: viewing pornography can lead to a lifelong addiction that can be more difficult to overcome than addictions to drugs, alcohol or tobacco. And because kids have easy access to the Internet, these addictions are beginning younger and younger.

brain-scans1Recently, Valerie Voon from Cambridge University published the results of a study which showed that pornography addiction leads to the same brain activity as alcoholism or drug abuse. Another study done in Germany documented brain shrinkage in people addicted to pornography. These and many others studies are beginning to show that pornography can damage the brain just like drugs do.

What do your young kids need to know? That just like other drugs, viewing pornography can lead to brain damage and addiction. For more kid-friendly information about how pornography affects the brain (and a child’s freedom), read Hey Kids! Freedom Begins in Your Brain.

Give Your Kids an Action Plan!

This is where you get to help your kids with some specific strategies. Answer these questions to help you devise your family’s porn exposure action plan:

  1. When they see it, what should they do immediately? (Shut down the device—it’s good idea to practice this drill.)
  2. Who should they tell if they are ever exposed to pornography? (Kids often keep exposure to pornography a secret for a variety of reasons—encourage them to tell you and assure them that they won’t get in trouble.)
  3. How can they deal with the memories of the porn exposure that keep popping up? (This is a cognitive skill—for some helpful tips, read Teach Kids Two Ways to “Forget” Porn.)
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If you’d like more ideas to help your kids proactively defend themselves against pornography, check out the read-aloud book Good Pictures Bad Pictures, Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids. It’s a comfortable story about a mom and dad who teach their child what pornography is, why it’s dangerous, and specifically how to reject it.

I am convinced of this truth:

As we face the dangers of pornography head-on, our kids won’t have to face them alone.

Please share this article with anyone you know who has young children or grandchildren. Thank you!

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Is Your Library Safe for Kids? One Mom’s Distressing Story

by Claudine Gallacher

The Shocking Incident

Happy asian girl in the library.Maria Carmen Frandsen cannot forget what happened two weeks ago at her local public library in Auburn, Washington.  Her 9 year-old son had just left her side to use a nearby restroom. As Maria Carmen sat near a table in the children’s section, her other three children (1, 4, and 7) were looking at books. It was at this moment when she happened to glance at a nearby computer directly within her view. On the screen, a man and a women were having sex while a library patron sat watching.

Maria Carmen quickly gathered her smallest children and found her 9 year-old son who immediately told her that on his way to the bathroom he had seen something “bad” on a library computer. Sickened that her son had been exposed to hardcore pornography in a place she had believed was safe, Maria Carmen appealed to the library staff for help. She wanted to ensure that no more kids came across these obscene images.

istock man at computer in library“Nothing We Can Do”

Although the librarian talked to the porn-watching patron, the patron asserted that he had a right to view legal pornography. He refused to change his behavior. The librarian apologized to Maria Carmen, explaining that unless the patron is watching child pornography (which is clearly illegal) there is nothing library staff can do. Maria Carmen talked with other librarians and got the same disturbing answer: “There is nothing we can do.”

What About Children’s Rights?

Do you think this response is good enough for a conscientious mother? We don’t either! And we’re so proud of Maria Carmen for doing something! In a letter to the Auburn Reporter, she asks, “What about our children’s rights not to be exposed to harmful material?” She wants to know why her library has rules that forbid food and bare feet, but no regulations against watching XXX movies at computers that children can easily see.

kids at library

Should patrons have the right to watch porn on computer screens in full view of children?

Something We CAN DO

Wherever you live, take these two steps:

  • Email your library or talk to your local librarian and find out how they respond if a patron is viewing pornography on library computers. What happens if other patrons complain?
  • Check out the Safe Schools Safe Libraries Project website and download their free “Getting Started” packet. You can also read about others who are working to make our libraries safe for kids. Knowledge is power!

 If you live in King County Washington, do this:

  • Write to the KCLS Board of Trustees (the people that create/regulate library policy) to let them know how you feel about a patron’s “right” to watch porn in the library. Here’s their address: Board of Trustees, King County Library System, 960 Newport Way NW, Issaquah, WA 98027. Or you can email them here: boardoftrustees@kcls.org. 

If you agree that children’s safety should be our first concern in public places, then please SPEAK OUT. PornProof Kids will continue to follow Maria Carmen on her journey to fight pornography in her library.

Have you ever felt your local library was unsafe for your kids? Please share your stories—together we can make a difference!

Please check us out on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @PornProofKids. Thank you!

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3 Habits to Keep Your Kids from Sinking in the Ocean of Porn

The Ship Only Sinks When the Ocean Gets Inside

tall ship on ocean2Water can be lovely, but it can also be deadly. Especially if your ship sinks.

One of my author friends is writing a historical novel about a ship loaded with gold that went down in a hurricane off of the U.S. Carolinas in 1857. Her great grandfather was one of the lucky survivors (most of the crew and passengers perished). It’s an amazing story and illustrates the dangers involved in ocean travel.

But here’s an important truth.

As long as a ship stays floating on the ocean, her passengers and cargo are safe. The ship only sinks when the ocean gets inside!

Our kids are like ships floating on a sea of sexualized media. As long as the inappropriate media stays outside (or is thrown outside), our kids’ brains will be safe from the lies and addicting nature of pornography.

How do kids keep the ocean of pornography from sinking their ship?

Here are three important habits to learn and practice:

1. Report the leaks.

If you see something, say something. This was the motto posted all over New York City after 9/11. The same works for pornography. Teach your kids (and remind them often) to come and tell you when they see something that they feel is pornographic. Being open enough to tell someone reduces the shame factor and pornography’s seductive power.

Jill C. Manning, PhD, author of What’s the Big Deal about Pornography?, reports that she tells her husband immediately if she is exposed to anything pornographic. Parents can model this same behavior so children will feel safe doing the same thing. (“Honey, I saw something pornographic today—it was in the app store. I have no idea why they used that cover! I’ve been working at getting the image out of my mind all day.”)

2. Seal up the cracks.

Minor holes in the hull of a ship need to be repaired before they let the ocean water burst inside. Are there cracks in your family’s media plan? Review the TV shows, music or movies you and your kids watch or listen to at home. (Or that they’ve been exposed to someone else’s home.)Family playing with Tablet computer at home

Get all hands on a deck for a Family Media Night and work as a family to seal up those cracks by reinforcing your family’s media standards. (Check out the Family Media Standards section of this blog post.)

3. When a rogue wave washes over your ship, start bailing!

Sometimes exposure to pornography hits us unexpectedly. Don’t let porn stay in your ship—use CAN DO Plan™ from our read aloud book Good Pictures Bad Pictures to bail it out.

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Specifically, distract yourself every time those images, song lyrics, or scenes come back into your brain. Divert your thoughts to something else that is positive and exciting. Or go and do something physical that requires mental effort to sustain.

Practice this over and over (like bailing out a boat!) and soon the image will fade. It works because you create a new neural pathway that leads away from that pornographic memory.

Simple habits? Yes!

But powerful when applied. Teach your kids to keep porn out of their brains just like sailors need to keep water out of their boats.

It may even be fun to make some paper boats and demonstrate how they can sink if too much water gets in. (Here’s a helpful YouTube video that shows exactly how to fold an origami ship, and here are printed instructions.)

If you know someone who would benefit from this article, please share it!

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Online Video Games: Top 10 Tips to Keep Kids Safe

What Every Parent Needs to Know about Online Video Games

Video Games Top 10 TipsMy kids love the online video game RuneScape, and they’ve played it for years. Set in a medieval fantasy realm where players can travel through various kingdoms fighting monsters, completing quests and increasing their skills. They make tools, catch fish, watch each other’s back and have fun. It’s engaging, but pretty harmless.

Online Gaming & Porn

Other Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG) are not so innocent. In fact, video gaming and pornography access often go hand in hand.

Jill Manning“Parents need to understand how intricately linked the gaming industry and pornography industry are. More and more games have pornography embedded in them. If kids play online, that is a pornographer’s heyday for marketing, grooming and hooking young consumers.”  Jill Manning, Ph.D. Marriage and Family Therapist, as quoted by Internet Safety 101

Let’s look at a few of the dangers and how your kids can avoid them.

Dangers

  • Predators: Kids can use a headset to talk to players from all over the world or predators from around the block. Child predators have gone hi-tech and they are looking for new victims Every. Single. Day.

“But, since predators prey where kids play, it is no surprise that online games are the new frontier for sexual predators. They use online gaming to connect with children and groom and target their next victim.” Internet Safety 101, Online Gaming Dangers

  • Violence: Grand Theft Auto allows players to gun down civilians, and then, when the police respond, players can kill them, too. Does all of this graphic violence and gore have an effect on kids? With new studies in brain science, the answer is increasingly yes!
  • Sexual content: Porn is often embedded in video games. According to Internet Safety 101, many games allow “kids to engage in virtual or simulated sex acts to accumulate more points. Some games exist for the sole purpose of simulating sex—virtual sex games are often free and easy to access for kids; they games allow kids to create an online identity to explore sexuality in any place and in any way, including group sex, bestiality, and other fetishes.”

This video from Internet Safety 101 is well worth the watch!

 

Top 10 Tips to Protect Kids

1. Set up all video game accounts. Determine who your child can talk to and who has access to your child’s gaming profile. Never give a child an Xbox or other game console and allow them to set it up. Parents should set up all controls to limit inappropriate content.

2. Teach your kids to never give away personal information online (name, address, name of school, age, telephone number or email). Safe Internet Surfing advises kids to make sure their online screen names don’t give out information either. For example, they should not use their birth year in their screen name or an abbreviation of their school (WhtBluf2004). Remember, people online can pretend to be who they are not. Be wary of anyone who asks for personal information.

3. Keep computers protected. Play online games only after you have a current and effective antivirus/antispyware firewall running.

4. Don’t download “cheats”—many contain malware and viruses. Only buy software from reputable sources.

5. When disposing of your gaming device, make sure all of your personal information has been deleted.

Young boy using laptopViolence & Sexual Content

6. Read reviews before purchasing a video game: Common Sense Media Review for Games

7. Understand the rating system. Become familiar with the Entertainment Rating Software Board ratings for video games.

8. Read A Parent’s Guide to Video Games, Parental Controls and Online Safety  It’s filled with some excellent info, including a letter from a “gaming Dad.”

9. Remember, that even if a game is rated “E” for everyone, if it has access to the Internet, your kids can encounter other people who may not be using “E” rated language. What will your kids do if they encounter someone using foul language in an online game? Or worse, see a pop-up for porn? Get them prepared with a plan!

10. Limit time so gaming doesn’t become an addiction. PlayCare Tags The Play Ladying is important for kids, but using online games to escape from problems or negative feelings can begin the process of addiction. That’s why emotional coaching is so important for kids. (I love these CARE TAGS from The Play Lady!)

Are you exhausted yet? I am!

Parents today must be much more involved and informed in order to keep their kids safe. It may seem daunting, but you CAN DO it because your kids are worth it!

Please know that you have my respect and all the encouragement I can fit in these posts!

If you know someone who could use this information, please share PornProof Kids with them!

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Pornography: Two Tips to Help Parents Talk More (Often) and Worry (Way) Less

by Claudine F. Gallacher, MA

In honor of Cyber Safety Month, make a commitment to talk to your kids about the dangers of pornography. Seriously, you can start today!

Pornography Two Tips Talk More Worry LessYou get it. You know you need to talk to your kid about the dangers of pornography.  Every week you tell yourself that “this week” you will find the time. But time keeps slipping away! It’s so easy to get distracted with the everyday tasks of raising a child.  How do you move from good intentions to actually making the time to talk to your child?

Here are two tips that have worked for me:

Tip #1: Plan it!

Make an appointment with your child and write it on your calendar. It seems easy to make dentist appointments, schedule doctor visits, and sign our kids up for after school activities. How often do we schedule parent/child check-up time? If you are the type of parent that lives by the structure of a calendar, you are likely to get to the things you plan and write down. So, pick a day and time and write “talk to Sam about pornography” on your weekly planner. Then do it!  Here are some other great tips on finding one-on-one time with your kids.

 

sunglow mom talking with son

Tip #2: Be spontaneous!

It’s okay to interrupt. Here’s the scenario: You’re doing dishes and your child is doing homework. You think of something you want to make sure she understands about how pornography affects the brain. Instead of waiting until she’s finished with her homework (or you’re finished cleaning up), you go to your daughter and say,

“I know you’re busy, but I have something I want to talk with you about that’s important, and I don’t want to forget. Would you mind taking a 10 minute break from what you’re doing so I can tell you about something I’ve learned recently?”

I’ve done this with my kids several times, and as long as I keep our discussions short, they’re willing to listen and talk to me about the dangers of pornography. I’ve done a lot of porn-proofing by interrupting my kids!

Keep it short! Make it frequent!

jeff fordNo matter which strategy you use, short, frequent discussions will help your child remember information much better than one long talk. Jeffrey J. Ford, a counselor specializing in pornography addiction, has this advice for parents:

“It is helpful to remember that our children will not learn everything at once, and we don’t need to cover everything at once either. Learning about sex and pornography is a process that takes time and requires safety in asking questions.”

In other words, the pressure for a perfect dialog at the perfect time is gone once we decide to talk with our children on a regular basis. We need to talk more and worry less about what to say and when to say it.

Bestselling author Steve Maraboli advised,

“Take action! An inch of movement will bring you closer to your goals than a mile of intention.”

Whether you schedule the time or talk spontaneously with your child or both, every discussion you have will help your child to know that the topic of pornography is not off limits and that you are a safe source of information.

And speaking of taking action…

Please share PornProof Kids with your friends and family!

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A Deliberate Plan to Protect Your Kids from Pornography

A Totally Doable Plan and Podcast!

Mother and the sonWhat is a deliberate mom? And how does she prepare her kids to grow up with sexual integrity in a world awash in pornography?

Is there a doable plan? Yes!

april-and-saren-croppedPower of Moms Radio

I recently had the privilege of speaking with April Perry (the lovely brunette on the right), one of the co-directors of Power of Moms, a very popular online “gathering place for mothers who want to be deliberate in this beautiful (and often chaotic) process of raising children and growing ourselves, as women.”

April is determined to be deliberate in preparing her kids to reject pornography so she invited me to join her in a Power of Moms’ Radio podcast to help mothers all over the world protect their kids.KristenAuthor3Small

In this podcast, both April and I share some great stories and tips that will help to empower your entire family. (See below: I’ve broken it down with time references so you can listen to all or just parts on your phone, computer, iTunes or Stitcher.)

At the end, I believe you’ll feel more hopeful than ever about how smart and strong young kids are when they have the right tools, information and support.

Just one favor…

If you find this information helpful, please pass it along to your friends and family! This may sound over the top, but you never know how many kids you’ll save from a lifelong addiction to pornography by sharing what you’ve learned. Thank you!

 

Power of Moms Podcast

Pornography: A Totally Doable Plan for Protecting Your Kids

Here’s how our interview is broken down:

0:27 April’s introduction: how deliberate moms can help each other to save children all over the world.

3:32 Tell us a little about your read-aloud children’s book Good Pictures Bad Pictures and why kids love it. (April shares her feelings about how comfortable the book is for parents to read to kids.)

6:14 Why do young kids need to be warned about pornography?

7:20 Tell us how the book uses brain science to defend sexual integrity.

10:28 What compelled you to write a children’s book about pornography?

17:25 How did you write a book about pornography without using the word “sex”? (And why is it important to warn kids about pornography even before they fully understand human intimacy?)

19:45 How do you define pornography for a child? What is it? And, maybe more importantly, how does it make them feel?

25:38 Why is a child’s brain more vulnerable to pornography than an adult’s brain? (Don’t miss April’s story about seeing a media violence experiment done with children—so eye-opening!)

30:47 Give us some specific ways to open a conversation about pornography with kids.

38:51 How do you teach that sex is good but porn is bad?

41:19 April’s story that highlights how using porn can cause sexual dysfunction in males. (Yes, it’s called PIED!)

43:55 Tell us some specific tips for dealing with technology (filters, family rules) to keep kids safe online.

53:32 What parting advice can you share to help moms empower their kids to reject pornography?

April and I ended this podcast on a very positive and encouraging note:  Kids are smart and they love to be empowered!

Porn-Proofing as a Project

April gave very helpful advice at the end to think about your porn-proofing efforts as a project. (What a great idea!) She’s got some great tools for helping moms with projects, too!

Please share PornProof Kids with your friends and family!

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Crime Expert Reveals 7 Tech Tips Every Parent Should Know

Two boys watching smartphone photos

 

LaVarr McBride is a professor of Criminology at Penn State and recently spoke at the Northwest Coalition for Healthy Intimacy’s annual conference in Portland, Oregon. I was there and took copious notes to share with you! (You also may order the DVD of the entire conference here. Highly recommended!)

Here are seven tips he shared to help your kids stay safe online.

Social Media & Tech Tips for Parents

  • Tip 1: Know every friend on your child’s social media accounts. Did you know that 30% of Facebook profiles are FAKE ID’s—many of whom are pedophiles or sex offenders trying to contact your children? Make sure you and your child knows each friend in the physical world and never friend anyone you don’t know.
  • Tip 2: Teach your child not to disclose private information because nothing is really private on social media, despite “privacy” settings. According to McBride, Facebook users disclose way too my information about themselves. Don’t post your telephone number, address, name of school, or any information a predator could use to gain access to your child.
  • Tip 3: Disable the GPS location setting on mobile devices. Now this gets creepy. Watch the video below and see how easy it is to use social media and geo-tagging to stalk people in a public place. McBride told a story about a predator whose victim had posted on social media that she would meet her friends at a certain movie theater at a certain time that evening. He was able to assault her because he arrived before her friends. McBride warned that predators are smart and use technology to find and assault victims.

Jack Vale’s Social Media Experiment

 

  • Tip 4: No devices in bedrooms at night. Kids often find it difficult to turn off their connection to friends and social networks. Make it a rule to charge all devices by your bedside at night.
  • iStock_000037398698SmallTip 5: Help your kids find a healthy amount of social media interaction. McBride advises parents not to “yank” technology away from kids, but to work with them and help them develop healthy habits. Texting can become addictive. In fact, an average of 2272 texts are sent per user each month! That’s over 75 texts per day. And it’s causing failing grades, sleep deprivation and even repetitive stress injuries in kids.
  • Tip 6: Warn kids about sexting or engaging in revenge porn. I know—your child would never do this. But 1 out of 5 kids are sexting, and they can be charged with child porn. Just warn them with this story McBride told about an 18 year old young man whose girlfriend broke up with him. To get revenge, a buddy of his suggested that he Photoshop her face onto a pornographic image and send it to a few of their friends. Unfortunately, he made the mistake of texting it to all 475 people on his phone list including her, his parents, his teachers, and his religious leaders. He was arrested and taken to federal court for distributing child pornography (his ex-girlfriend was under the age of 18) and then sent to prison for four years. True story.
  • Tip 7: No personal email accounts—all kids should use a family account so that parents can monitor correspondence.  Search for “safe email for kids” and you’ll find several options. If you want your kids to have their own email account, make sure you set it up and keep the password so you can regularly monitor messages.(This can nip a lot of peer problems in the bud!)

iStock mom and daughter reading

 

And here’s my two cents about giving mobile devices to your kids: don’t! If you want them to have access to an iPad, tablet or smartphone, buy them for the family and lend them out to your kids on your terms. You approve all apps, you have the account info, and you oversee their use of the Internet. There’s a big psychological difference between a child “owning” a mobile device and “borrowing” it from you.

I hope this has been helpful! It’s a scary world out there, but it only gets safer for kids when we as parents face it head on with good information.

What have you done to help your kids use social media and technology in appropriate, healthy ways? Share your two cents!

Please share PornProof Kids with your friends and family!

LIKE us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @PornProofKids. Thank you!

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