internet

Follow-up on August’s Council Meeting “How can prioritize our different responsibilities?”

  • I have had a roller coaster, right when we had the lesson, I deleted all of the distracting apps on my phone. I had such a fun week, where at the end of it I wasn’t like, ‘Oh, I kind of wasted time and I feel guilty.’ At the end of the week there was no guilt and then the next week, I had those apps back on my phone. I noticed, I could see the difference. Then I was like, ‘I need to get rid of these [apps].’ Then there was divine intervention and I lost my phone! And it was such a great week. 😊

I got a message from my sister and she has teenagers now, between work and school and athletics, you all know about that. One thing she sis mention, there have been so many tender mercies in trying to get her kids to all of the good places. I thought, you know, you’re trying and it may not work everyday or every week that you get everything done that you want. The one that was on the top of your list may be down there [at the bottom]. Baby steps. Just do what you can. You’re all doing great.

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I’ve spent a couple of weeks delving into this subject; it wasn’t my first time learning about it, but it has been very enlightening and in some ways depressing, but also empowering as I discovered things. This is kind of a sensitive subject, so I don’t want anybody to feel like you need to share anything personal about yourself or your family. But know that, if you’ve ever read any of the Relief Society lessons that I type up and put into the blog for everybody, I do my best to replace personal information so that anybody reading it wouldn’t know necessarily, that that was you saying that. So, I do try to help with a bit of anonymity and I will certainly do that today. But, I will need your help today as we talk about this.

As I contemplated this topic, I thought about the question of protecting ourselves. Me as an individual, me and my family together. The idea of protection. After all of the reading that I did in so many places this is kind of the gist of what I came up with, so I’m going to detail that for you now. The ways that I felt we could protect ourselves.

  1. Begin by praying for guidance from Heavenly Father. Express your concerns with Him and seek ways that you can appropriately address the issue with your family. Everybody’s family is different and composed of different age groups. So, this will be a unique experience to you. You may have already done this, you probably have, especially those with young ones in your home or teens.
  2. Become informed on the how, when, where of inappropriate media. Taking the time to delve into where is this coming from, how is it being accessed, where is it found? Read the hard statistics and realize that no one is fully safe. We can do all we can in our homes, but our kids are not in our homes 24 hours a day, every day, all year long.
  3. Create an action plan to educate your family on the subject. Again, this is going to be unique to your situation and based on the age groups in your home. How do you talk to little ones who are on the iPad? This is something we need to research for ourselves.
  4. Implement safety measures on all devices children have access to, obviously those within your control.
  5. Discuss with children how they should respond when confronted with unwanted images either from a personal device, home computer or on a friend’s device. Let them know they can come to with any concerns regarding internet images or interactions with others.
  6. Check in periodically with family members of all ages to see how things are going with their ability manage internet safety. You can decide maybe it’s twice a year and you have a special council meeting and you check in and ask how are we doing with our ability to manage this?

I have a few things I want to share with you first before we get into the meat of it and delve into- what are we going to do? This isn’t to frighten you or to disgust you, so I apologize if this is hard to hear, but this is some of the things that I have discovered and we need to be aware of it. There are different resources that I obtained this from, but here they are:

  • The average age of first Internet porn exposure is 11 years old.
  • One out of 7 kids have received a solicitation of porn and there are 100K websites that offer illegal child pornography.
  • The Crimes against Children Research Center says that 1 in 5 teenagers have received a sexual solicitation via the web.
  • and “about 25 percent of the youth who encountered a sexual approach or solicitation told a parent.”

Now these are demographics from across the country and not specifically LDS kids. I’m not sure how different it would be, but I don’t know that it is different.

  • According to LDSLiving.com “79 percent of young people’s unwanted exposure to pornography occurs in the home.”
  • “Nearly 60 percent have received an e-mail or Instant Message from a stranger, and half responded to the stranger’s message”
  • There is a lack of clarity regarding the law around sexting, (if you don’t know what that is it is where teenagers, predominantly teenagers will use their phone to send illicit messages or pictures of themselves to others): half of parents are unaware that it is illegal for a child to take a naked or sexual image of themselves and 28% do not know that it is illegal for a child to send a naked or sexual image to a peer. (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, August 2016)
  • More than half (54%) of young adults ages 18-22 admit to sexting as minors.
    • 28% acknowledged sending photographic sexts.
    • Girls send photographic sexts twice as often as boys. Van Ouytsel J; Ponnet K; Walrave M. “The associations between adolescents’ consumption of pornography and music videos and their sexting behavior,” Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2014 Dec; 17(12): 722-8, at http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/cyber.2014.0365

  • A recent study commissioned by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children found 94 percent of children who have been exposed to pornography have that experience before age 14, and 53 percent said they believed what they saw was a realistic depiction of sexual relations.

These are alarming statistics, but I think it’s important for us to really get an understanding of what’s going on and it’s going on when we’re not realizing that it’s going on. We’d like to believe it’s not, but there’s enough of us in this room with kids, we could say there is a fair amount of kids, probably in our ward, that have been exposed to pornography or inappropriate media accidentally, maybe on purpose. I read a statistic on boys that search child pornography because they’re just wondering if they look normal for their age. So, there’s different reasons. As parents, grandparent, aunts, uncles, whatever, we need to be equipped with this information so that we can be prepared to deal with it.

I want to ask you this question now, so be ready to help me out. Tell me where are they finding inappropriate media, where could you find it or your kids? Where do you see inappropriate media or pornography?

  • Television
  • Phone
  • Music (lyrics and videos)
  • Computer/Laptop
  • Advertisements
  • Years ago, I read that a lot of young boys have problems from looking at ads for underwear. Out of innocence, but it happens.
  • My son was coming home from the bus stop and somebody’s trash can had been spilled and there were magazines on the ground. I mean, magazines are something you think they might not see – I take him to the store and I won’t let him look at them. But, there were magazines in the street.
  • Friends
  • School- you’d be surprised. My daughter saved something when she was in school when she called it back up, she got all this other stuff and she was appalled and didn’t know what to do, but she had seen it. Even though they have internet blocks we still need to talk to our kids about it.
    • The school has so many filters set up, yet as a reward for some of our kids that bring back homework, we let them get on a website called “cool math games.” Totally safe, it’s just games. The games are appropriate, the ads on the side were not. We discovered that and had to take that away.
  • One thing my mom struggles with, I have two teenage brothers back home, are the video games. Some of the characters and the games are sexual.

Yes, they are and there is a lot of research going on about the depiction of women in video games. It’s very damaging the way that they depict women, but then there are also some inuendo and sometimes outright acts going on in video games.

  • Anime (adult cartoons that primarily come from Asian countries), and some regular cartoons
  • Social media, phone, tablet, and computer
  • Tablets
  • I’m not sure if it’s really on the topic, but I was looking at all of these things [list on the board] made me think there’s so many things we can use for our kids or teach our kids with. It’s hard knowing how to find that balance. If it’s everywhere, how do we ever let them watch or do anything if it’s so prevalent? It’s hard.
  • It can also be right in plain sight in the middle of the day. It’s hard to determine what’s everyone’s definition of what pornography is. We went to the beach as a family and some of the women were wearing pretty much nothing.
  • Friend’s devices, we don’t know what other parent’s have for the settings on their kid’s devices. So, we have to be cautious and educating our kids to know what to do.

I’m going to read this to you because I feel like this is really important and it comes from Dallin H. Oaks in regards to the dangers of repeated exposure to inappropriate content, especially pornography.

“Pornographic or erotic stories and pictures are worse than filthy or polluted food. The body has defenses to rid itself of unwholesome food. With a few fatal exceptions, bad food will only make you sick but do no permanent harm. In contrast, a person who feasts upon filthy stories or pornographic or erotic pictures and literature records them in this marvelous retrieval system we call a brain. The brain won’t vomit back filth. Once recorded, it will always remain subject to recall, flashing its perverted images across your mind and drawing you away from the wholesome things in life.”

In speaking to priesthood holders Elder Oaks continued, “The immediate spiritual consequences of such hypocrisy are devastating. Those who seek out and use pornography forfeit the power of their priesthood. The Lord declares: “When we undertake to cover our sins, … behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man” (D&C 121:37). Pornography also inflicts mortal wounds on our most precious personal relationships. In his talk to men of the priesthood last October, President Hinckley quoted the letter of a woman who asked him to warn Church members that pornography “has the effect of damaging hearts and souls to their very depths, strangling the life out of relationships” Pornography impairs one’s ability to enjoy a normal emotional, romantic, and spiritual relationship with a person of the opposite sex. It erodes the moral barriers that stand against inappropriate, abnormal, or illegal behavior. As conscience is desensitized, patrons of pornography are led to act out what they have witnessed, regardless of its effects on their life and the lives of others. Pornography is also addictive. It impairs decision-making capacities and it “hooks” its users, drawing them back obsessively for more and more.” Dallin H. Oaks (“Pornography” April 2005)

I read this [quote] because I feel like this adds gravity to the situation; not that it isn’t already. We hear the word pornography and it’s a little bit of a frightening word and can be devastating. This quote tells us how devastating it can be. This does not refer to a child who accidentally comes across one image or even a couple of images over time. This is about repeated use, this is about people who continually go back, which they will do if they are enticed to do so.

  • I was in a class one time and it was directed at the kids, and he said, ‘this is what pornography does’ and he drew a short little line. ‘That doesn’t seem to do much to you. It didn’t hurt you, so you go back and do it a couple more times and that’s not as much fun anymore, so you go just a little bit further [draws line longer than the first]. Back and forth and so on and pretty soon you’ve created or drawn a circle where nothing satisfies. I thought it was a good graphic especially for kids. We tell them how horrible pornography is for them and they look at it and go, ‘well, that doesn’t look too bad to me’ or ‘that’s not hurting me, it’s just a tiny little thing.’ But, with the graphic when you use it and say this is what happens you go back and think this feels a little good and go back again and pretty soon you are in a vicious circle. If you’re teaching your kids that might be a good graphic visual for them. It struck me. But that’s with any sin really, but pornography especially.
  • I don’t know if any of you went and saw the movie about the underground railroad, it’s about child trafficking. In the movie, and it wasn’t the funnest movie to watch, but I follow him on Instagram and wanted to know more about it. In the movie it was said, it was more of a documentary, they said that America is the biggest problem for child trafficking. America was close to other countries who buys children. So, Tim has asked these men, ‘how did you come to this point in your life?’ and they said, ‘When I was 12 or 14 I saw an image and you keep watching and watching and pretty soon those needs aren’t fulfilled, so then you need younger and younger and younger. There are these little 7 or 8-year-old children who are being sold. But, it’s where it began.
    • Even Ted Bundy said that is where he started, with pornography.

Yeah, Satan has quite the tool there, doesn’t he?

So, I’ve given you the statistics, a definition basically of what it’s going to do. Inappropriate media is in a lot of ways very much like pornography, in my opinion, in its impact. Let’s talk about some measures we can take. Some of you are probably very aware of what to do and how to do it, so I’m relying on you to join in this conversation.

First, I’d like to know what tangible measures have you taken to limit your family’s contact with inappropriate media or pornography? That means what have you physically done in your home or to your devices.

  • My son is only two, but whenever he watches anything, someone has to be with him. Even if it’s something that I’ve seen before, maybe I haven’t seen it for a while, maybe something comes up and it makes him uncomfortable. Whether its children are fighting or it ends up being something mildly suggestive. It’s been so interesting to strive to be there and to help him understand or to tell him, ‘that’s no good.’ It’s been a really big blessing. Just being there with him whenever he does get exposed to something.
  • We had some issues with my teenager’s phone and thinking I was a good parent, she lost said phone. I found that I had less control because all of a sudden, she was looking at her friend’s phone. When it was her phone I could know, we actually have something called MM Guardian it’s an app that we have and I can block every single app, approve every single app. I can turn it on and off. I can approve how much Wi-Fi time. I can read every text message she sends, not that I’m a little paranoid, but I do, I look at everything. When she lost her phone and she’s on her friend’s devices and I decided I would rather have her have her own cell phone with all of those many, many filters and the supervision. I also have a circle, it’s a Disney filter on the WIFI and it filters all of the kid’s devices as well. Even if someone comes to my house, there is a guest setting and your Wi-Fi will turn off at 8:30pm. In addition to that, nothing that connects to the internet is allowed in any bedroom, at all, ever. We have alternate eReaders, alternate music because cell phones aren’t in rooms.
  • Same thing for us, no computers, no tablets, no phones in the bedrooms. My son has a smart phone that he takes to school with him and he has data, but he doesn’t have internet. He can’t get on Safari, he can’t search the internet. If he’s on the app store, I know. Any app he wants to put on his phone, I have to approve with my thumbprint. Like on my phone, he has his thumbprint programmed into my phone, but his thumbprint can’t approve the app. Even if I was busy and my phone was there and he wanted an app, it wouldn’t approve it. It’s an iPhone thing. Family Share or whatever they call it.
  • It seems like it’s getting younger and younger and younger that I have seen parents letting their kids have the smart phone or a tablet. I’ve considered getting one with basic stuff on it, reading and school related stuff and then I think my oldest is only eight. Eight-year-olds don’t need iPhones and she’s always saying, ‘Mom, when am I going to get a phone?’ I’m like, ‘when you’re older and I have to actually get a hold of you.’ I’m trying to limit how much they’re on something. You see them push back because they want it so bad, but you have to set boundaries because if you don’t, they’ll keep trying. We’ve noticed how they react after they’re done. Like if they’re on it too long, they start to act out or get upset. But, I’ve noticed if they’re on it less, they don’t miss it.

It’s very enticing. There are some studies that have shown that the lights from the phone or tablet is very stimulating in the brain, even releasing some of those pleasure endorphins. So, it draws kids in and they want that, they want to have that feeling.

  • I think it’s really important to talk to your kids about how to handle the situation before the situation actually ever comes up. LDS.org has a great video that watch with them. It has some great advice about how to handle the situations when they come up.

I agree. I found that in my search as well, I started there, in fact. So, yes, there’s lots of resources there. I will provide you with some links when I send out the notes.

  • I feel like we could talk about this forever, but I think this all starts and I’m bringing this up because I’ve been trying to be mindful with how much time we spend on those things. Obviously, the more you drive the more likely you are to get in a car accident. The more access you have to these things, the more likely these things are going to come up. I’m guilty of spending too much time on my phone and when kids see that, they model what you do. I think that’s a big place to start. Evaluate ourselves and see what we’re doing on devices and it’s really easy to just get sucked in and waste an hour and not even know it had been a whole hour. And then I just wanted to talk about really quick, so I’m on Instagram and I follow this guy. He started his Instagram because he was poking fun at bloggers and some other things that happen on social media, anyway, he shifted his focus to make parents aware of what their kids are looking a. I was telling my parents, they’re so kind of old-fashioned, like, ‘do you know what’s on Snapchat? You don’t just send pictures on Snapchat anymore. You scroll through articles and there’s like literal pornography on Snapchat. You only have to click once.’ So, he teaches parents and shows them things. His name is COLINKARTCHNER. He’s really funny and reading his Instagram stories and seeing it has opened my mind and helped to realize that I spend way too much time on social media. I think there’s probably others too, just Google it.
  • Kind of going along with that, something that my husband and I did was to do the challenge from President Nelson with the 7 day fast. My husband and I did that a couple of months ago because we’re not immune to these things either. We’re still human. Just the strength and the power that came from that and heeding the prophet’s counsel. Mornings were really great and as far as spending too much time, one of my problems is going to this Instagram page- it wasn’t super dirty, but it wasn’t uplifting either. Before the fast, I’d find myself always going back like, ‘what’s she up to now?’ and being so curious. But, since the fast, I haven’t gone to it once. It’s not because of me, I feel like I really received help with that. My husband too. We’ve really felt blessed by following the prophet’s counsel and what with all of these filters and having strengthening our internal filters too. We just need all the help we can get.
  • I asked my married daughter a couple of years ago, ‘So, what are you and your husband doing to protect yourselves from pornography?’ She said that every week in their little couple council they check in and report to each other. So, they’re helping each other stay safe.
  • Going back to COLINKARTCHNER, what’s been super amazing about him shifting to this platform that he has is it’s actually super beneficial to kids and parents alike. He starts a conversation and asks youth to weigh in on it and you’d be amazed the stuff they divulge. They are realizing what’s going on in their life and then try to eliminate that. What’s really great is because they divulge this stuff, there’s stuff that I’ve learned about, and I was in Young Women’s for several years and there were many things that I learned form the young women that I didn’t know before, but there’s things like, youth who create two Instagram accounts, the one is fake and that’s the ones where they sext and do anything else. The other one is their good account that they allow their parents to be friends on.
  • When I was growing up, I never had “the talk” with my mom. I think I probably figured it out, I don’t know. 😊 But, I’m still waiting to have the talk. I didn’t know a lot of things as a teenager, so one thing that I’ve really tried to do with my kids is to have that open dialogue. Let’s not make things awkward, let’s not make things uncomfortable, but let’s be honest with each other and really talk. There are lines with my son where I just feel like, ‘tag [husband’s name] you’re it, you go handle that because I don’t know what to say.’ With my daughter, I think the important thing for us to remember, especially as moms that have girls, is that the adversary does not discriminate. He’s not just seeking out boys or men. I think especially with the Snapchat and the Instagram, he’s targeting our young women. My husband and I were having a talk last night and there was a show we really wanted to watch that was on one of the streaming services. We were really looking forward to it and then we looked at the show and it’s rated TV Mature. We were really disappointed because we thought this was going to be a great show and my husband said, ‘what is happening? There is going to have to be a decision. We’re either going to have to decide that we can let our morals shift or we’re just going to have to put the TV out the window!’ There’s so little for us do now with our kids. We have to have that line of communication open and I love what you said about having a council with your husband or with your spouse because we have to discuss everything, it has to be open. We have to do it prayerfully and with the Spirit.
  • I was kind of in the same boat as you, I didn’t get “the talk” so, when I got married, I was like, ‘surprise!’ There were all these new things that I didn’t really know anything about. Obviously, I figured it out, but I thought, I haven’t had to have that talk yet because my kids aren’t quite up there. But it makes me realize I don’t want my kids to have that issue too. Knowing how to approach the subject with them or if they come to you with a question, where do you even start?
    • Because they’re going to get the information. They’ll find it.

Like I said in the beginning, that boys that saw the pornography thought that that was a realistic depiction. Why did they think that was realistic? They didn’t have any information before that, probably, to base anything on.

  • I think it was already touched on by somebody, but I just want to repeat it- I think it’s important to talk to our kids before there is anything, before it’s in front of them. My daughter is 8 years-old and I was like, at what point do you have that talk your kids? How old do they have to be? It’s getting younger and younger. I actually sat down with my daughter and kept it age appropriate, but we had a talk. I dreaded it for like a week, I was like, ‘oh my gosh, what am I going to say?’ But, since I’ve sat down with her, we’ve been on a whole different field. She knows she can come to me, we’ve talked about a lot of different things and been open about it. I was like, ‘wow, I should’ve done this earlier. This is great.’
  • With my kids I told them if there’s something inappropriate that you come across, turn off the computer and come talk to me. I’m not mad that something got through our filter, I’m not angry at you. It’s not your fault. But we have a plan, like you said, an action plan. Turn it off and come talk to me. When they found the magazines, one of the other little boys didn’t want anyone else to see it, so he flipped through it all the way to his house. I realized I had never brought up magazines. That night my son said, ‘I cannot get those pictures out of my head.’ I went through and talked about how Heavenly Father helps us and what to do. He knew I wasn’t angry at him. He knew that it was ok and that I loved him and that Heavenly Father loved him. I think sometimes we put so much gravity on it because it’s serious and that’s a good thing because if kids come across it by accident that they feel like they’ve been sullied. Let them know that there is always a way back. Even if a child has started seeking it out, even if they’ve gone down that road. Heavenly Father loves us. Just like we talked about last week, repentance wasn’t the back-up plan, that is the plan. Let kids know that we all mess up, there’s an action plan and we can move forward.

Definitely, and I think that talking with your kids can happen in a set up Family Home Evening or in a council meeting.

  • Or, in the car when they can’t leave. 😊 You’re trapped, now talk to me.
  • All of these are preventable [actions] and there those who slip through and when that happens, I think we need to really show our kids that whatever they need help with, if they need support. We had an incident and the person brought our whole family together and told us because they wanted the family to help and be there, which the kids were so surprised. They said, ‘you call us up day or night if you need something.’ I think sometimes kids need to realize that we can have family to help us.

Oh yes, and we could have a whole council meeting on what to do after something has happened like that to where somebody is in danger or someone is having a difficulty. The church does provide us with those resources. I want to encourage you to look at those resources online. They’re very, very helpful. They give specific suggestion with young children, middle age children, teenagers, older kids to help you to talk to them about these sometimes very scary topics, which are sometimes hard to talk about.

I have more to share, but I’m out of time. I want to encourage you to begin with prayer with your children, I want you to think about how you want to address this with your family. I challenge you this month, at least once, have that family meeting where you talk about this. I would really love your feedback as we go through the month, when we convene each Sunday. Let us know- how did that family meeting go? Were there any revelations that came to light? Anything that came afterward, your kids expressed gratitude, or felt better, or whatever, I want to know. I think we need to know how this is going to turn out this month. You’ve probably already done it, do it again, please this month. Let’s do this. That will be our action plan this month. I’ll probably write it out a little more specifically, but I challenge you because it is absolutely imperative that we head this off. We take care of this. We as grandparents, when our kid’s kids are over, be aware, your devices need to be set up to where it’s protected.

I leave you with my testimony that Satan is not going to win if we put on our armor and if we put the armor on our kids. We need to put armor on our devices to protect our family and I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

 

Action Plan for September:

  • Pray for guidance on how you can create or improve the internet safety within your home.
  • Council as a family on the plan you have implemented. Be detailed on how you as a family will manage the internet and devices within your home.
  • Discuss with children and youth what inappropriate media and pornography is to you (define it). Give them instruction on what they should do if confronted by inappropriate images or texts. (Open the line of communication.)
  • Encourage family members to check in weekly this month on how they are doing with managing internet safety and avoiding other sources of inappropriate media and pornography.

NEXT WEEK: Please study the following talk, “The Heart of a Prophet” by Elder Gary E. Stevenson (Gen. Conf. Apr 2018)

Additional Resources

https://www.deseretnews.com/article/865656471/Study-finds-majority-of-boys-think-online-pornography-is-realistic.html

 

https://perfectionpending.net/kids-and-pornography-the-statistics-every-parent-needs-to-know-and-how-you-can-protect-your-kids-online/

“Taming the Media”

https://www.lds.org/ensign/2014/08/taming-the-media?lang=eng

“Family Home Evening: What Should I Do If I See Pornography?”

https://www.overcomingpornography.org/spouses-and-families/what-do-i-do?lang=eng

“Family Home Evening: The Spirit Can Help Me Choose Good Media”

https://www.overcomingpornography.org/spouses-and-families/the-spirit-can-help-me-choose-good-media?lang=eng

 

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