Reader PJ writes:
As I’ve said before, wait until the next generation comes up; you ain’t seen nothing yet because the first smart phone generation (igen, not the millenials) is just starting to come up the pipeline.
Our daughter was asked by a boy to provide oral sex for him at recess…in first grade. Boy was from a nice church-going Christian family but he had a smart phone and he and other boys were spending their time on porn sites all during school at recess and at lunch. Parents were nice people but clueless about what their kid could access via the phone and the teachers are too busy with academics to be paying attention.
The 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students at the local elementary school were using their school district-confirmed google accounts (for google drive to send homework back and forth) to sign up for youtube and some of them were posting videos of them dancing naked for all the world to see with their google/district email displayed. Most of the parents and school employees were totally unaware this was going on! The overwhelming majority of parents are clueless to what their little darlings are doing. This isn’t high school or middle school, this is well into the elementary schools now.
Our own son is still the only middle schooler without a phone; we said he could get one once he gets a job and as he turns 14 next year and the local amusement park hires 14 yo (his preferred 1st job) we are trying to prepare him. But yeah, there’s no way to monitor what their friends are doing and what all the other stupid parents aren’t doing.
I am militant about this! Parents — especially Christian parents — who moan about how coarse and degrading the culture is, yet provide their kids with smartphones, are a huge part of the problem. If this is you, stop it. Stop it right now. Stop rationalizing what you’re doing. It’s morally insane.
UPDATE: Reader Seven Sleepers:
If you are a man with internet access, this is something you are dealing with. The question is only about how often you struggle, not if you are going to struggle.
Can I share an anecdote re: the other article where (again) a woman said this was same same as playboy (ha!)?
When I grew up near the city, if a JC Penny advert came blowing down the street with the bra section, we little boys would tear out the page, carefully fold it, and put it in a safe place for communal gawking at a later date. Just rewatch the movie, “Something about Mary”, which was pre-internet porn. You will know the scene when you get to it.
Later, when we migrated to the burbs, a full blown Playboy was somehow acquired (God knows how). It was placed in the woods, under a giant pile of illegally dumped concrete. EVERYONE knew where it lived. By everyone, I mean every boy in a 2 mile radius. Occasionally, someone would say, lets go to the rock. Whence we sallied forth as a group to flip a few (maybe 9-10 total) pages of a dirty (I mean actually dirty) magazine. Then, almost in a daze, the magazine was placed back in the rock, and we left.
Flash forward a few years and a relative of mine asks for my help. Says his son is watching crazy porn and is only 10. We look at the history of his internet browsing and let me tell you this, nothing, NOTHING that was in there ever appeared in a playboy magazine. No matter what we did to block it, he got around it. That kid is now a very confused young man.
It doesn’t even matter where you go on the internet, even reading a conservative article on a family friendly site, at the bottom, often include pictures and clickbait that make the JC Penny bra section look like curdled milk. I think, me as a 10 year old, it would Physically Impossible, to NOT click on the links that appear almost everywhere, and quickly can lead, a few clicks later, to who knows where.
Older I get, the more I can’t stand when people say “It’s always been that way”. SO annoying. It hasn’t. Wake up.
UPDATE: Reader Tim G. writes:
Hey, as long as this is a topic, and it IS a topic, whether on Rod’s blog or not, one constructive thing to do here would be to offer help and resources to those, like the first writer, in the grip of pornography.
There are many, many resources out there to help fight porn addiction and it seems like this would be a good place to offer a list. I’m no expert and don’t really have a list of resources, but a couple thoughts and references:
1) Suffice it to say porn, just like most any addiction, is not something that you can fight alone. It thrives on secrecy. You need a group of reliable partners to walk through this with you. Peers, older men, a pastor/priest, etc. (Needless to say of your same sex)
2) Technology controls. Something to lock down your access points and habits (The “cut your eye out” radical treatment of Matthew 5). Covenant Eyes is one tool. K9 is another. I just purchased the Circle for our home, although I haven’t had a chance to hook it up and offer an opinion.
3) Professional help. There are plenty of ministries out there to help with this. I don’t have any particular recommendation, although this thread would probably be a good place to put something together.
4) Spiritual reality. Ultimately porn is a sin problem and a relationship with the living God in the Gospel has to be the basis for freedom from and victory over porn. Otherwise you’ll have simple Moralistic Deism (minus the Therapeutic) which is no good either.
That’s my two cents’ worth so that in addition to sharing stories, maybe this post could offer practical references of help to those trapped in porn.
Readers? Please share resources. I need to know more about them too.
UPDATE.2: A reader sends in this TED talk by a secular professor who researches porn. She’s talking here about what it’s like to grow up in a pornified culture:
Another reader writes:
This is important to share in the context of your recent posts, as the speaker talks about the ratcheting up of porn content. Owners of paid sites also own free sites and calibrate the length of clips as well as the content to ensnare potential paying clients. Softcore is mainstream, hardcore is quaint, gonzo is the new normal.
In some cases, pornographers have helped to build the Internet, and optimized searches to direct clients to gonzo. Now they are investing in mobile technology the better to reach developing markets. You see, in poor countries too many people live in a household, and a man can’t have privacy with his computer. Better mobile technology delivers porn anywhere. It’s diabolical.
But fundamentally I want to repeat what I have shared with you before. It is not sufficient to cultivate our children spiritually. We must cultivate our relationship with our children if anything we transmit is to have purchase. Surely the Lord doesn’t need us to accomplish his kingdom. We have, however, been entrusted by Him with these children–he did not have them hatch out of an egg, fully formed. So if we are going to do our job, we need the thing that gives us power: our relationship with them.
I hate to repeat myself, but this is what Hold on to Your Kids is about. (I recommend the import hardcover copy available cheaply on Amazon.) Our children spend an unprecedented amount of time in each other’s company and exposed to commercial culture. No longer do shared culture, institutions, extended family or community members supplant us. In our absence, children face a void, which as we know nature abhors.
By design, the immature attach first through being in each other’s presence (physically or virtually), then sameness, then belonging and loyalty. If children are left to fend for themselves, they will want–instinctively–to spend more time in the presence of people like them and become loyal to those people. Because the immature are by nature fickle and taciturn, you can see how this devolves into a Lord of the Flies situation, quickly. They were never meant to care for one another. We were meant to do that.
To hand a child a smartphone and assume self control on his part (or HER part–girls watch the same content) is an abdication of our duty. To allow a child to spend too much time apart from us or a trusted member of our circle is an abdication of duty. It doesn’t matter that you’re grooming them for an elite college and all the activities you chose are good. It matters that they are not with us or close members of our circle. Paid substitutes–with rare exceptions–do not count. Content controls are a joke.
Nothing is a substitute for right relationship and best practices. There are relational principles to respect, and if we do respect them, we have a decent chance at cultivating our children’s loyalty and shielding their hearts from the disdain of others.