Do you worry about what your kids are seeing online? Teenage expert, author and speaker Michelle Mitchell has devised a road-map to keep them safe and you sane.
Do you agree with these statements?
1. The internet is providing highly addictive, distorted sexual content that does a great deal of damage to the young brain.
2. Toddlers, children and teenagers can access pornography with a click of their tablets or iPhones.
I don’ think many parents will argue these statements, but few of us expect pornography to impact their family. They assume that their child knows better and make the assumption that pornography only reaches a few morally corrupt kids.
Our assumptions guide what we ‘see’ or ‘don’t see’ in our young people’s lives. Unfortunately, parents who assume the best can discover the worst and although mischief is natural (and a whole lot of fun!), things get a little more serious when we are talking about internet pornography.
I’m am going to suggest you allow these four assumptions to guide the way you manage internet use in your home. These assumptions, if nothing else, will keep your eyes and ears open to the real needs your teenagers has.
Assume your teenager will see pornography.
Ouch! 70% view pornography by the time they are 12 and 100% by the time they are 16. I am not sure I totally by into this, because I do meet many teens who haven’t viewed pornography. However the fact remains – no child is exempt. It is not if they will see pornography it is what they will do when they see pornography. Teaching your child values doesn’t make them immune from pornography. They need a clear plan so they know how to walk away from pornography when it comes to them.
Assume all children will be curious about sex.
We all like to think that our child wouldn’t deliberately google sexual content. We need to be prepared to talk to our kids about sex regularly. Google can’t be their source of information when it comes to sex.
Assume you need to monitor their online use.
Teenagers will call it stalking. I prefer to call it monitoring. Parents can actually trust a young person too much. I advise parents to never completely trust a teenager even if they look like they have it all together! Have eyes in the back of your head. Use your institution and logic. Better to be cautious than sorry.
Assume you can’t control everything.
You can suggest, guide and reduce risk but at the end of the day your child still has a choice. Time and time again I have seen families who haven’t brought their child an iPhone or allowed them on social media, facing the horrible fact that their child is the one who is accessing pornography. Some parents go to the extremes, monitor every mouse click or just turn everything off. However, in keeping the boundaries so tight we put all our energy into policing our kids instead of coaching them.
Assume they need you to get involved.
I am seeing great strength in parents using social media with their kids, before they hit their teen years and don’t need you anymore. The key to the whole thing is for mum and dad to get in the mix and being aware of what is going on. That way when problems come you won’t be so far behind the curb that you don’t know how to address it.
This article originally appeared on michellemitchell.org and has been republished here with full permission.