By Dina Alexander
Stuck at home, many of us may find ourselves tempted to turn to unhealthy habits as a way of coping with stress or boredom. I know I’ve been having an extremely difficult time keeping my food addiction in check. For many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the crutch of pornography becomes even more of a temptation when isolated at home.
Just last month, Pornhub, the largest pornography site in the world, announced that it was giving countries like Italy, France, and Spain, who have been hard-hit with COVID-19, free access and subscriber privileges. Since then, Pornhub has had an influx in viewers throughout Europe and North America (Kearns, 2020).
Please do not be one of the many parents who don’t realize what a strong temptation porn can be to both girls and boys, and please understand that the porn industry is incredibly powerful and savvy. As an industry worth billions of dollars, it heavily targets anyone under age 21, and has in recent years, massively targeted women and girls in new and aggressive ways (Dines, n.d.).
Satan knows this, and has used pornography as a means of destroying families and harming kids’ understanding of healthy sexuality. Our Families must build immunity to this incredibly negative force. But how can we do this in a faith-focused way?
First, we must understand what we are up against.
Why Porn is Evil:
- It shows acts devoid of intimacy and empathy
- Porn almost always portrays a misogynistic, hateful view of women
- The sex portrayed in porn is fake, adversarial, and narcissistic
- It portrays deviant acts, such as incest, as normal
Second, we must take inventory of our personal and familial behaviors.
By doing this, we can evaluate where our family’s focus and priorities are. When our priorities are on the gospel, we can more easily build up and maintain a Christ-centered home.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Where are we spending our time?
- Am I prioritizing my family above other obligations?
- Am I teaching my child to connect with friends and family real life (vs. solely online)?
- How much of our time spent in front of screens is uplifting and/or productive?
- What do our activities, rules, and routines mean to us?
- Do we have appropriate filters on our computers and/or mobile devices?
- Do our kids know we have a testimony of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost?
- Do we have regular family scripture study, church attendance, and family prayer?
Please know that we cannot afford to waste our time doing activities that do not bring us closer together as a family or closer to our Heavenly Parents. Our families face too much opposition and temptation in the world, and we simply cannot remain strong if we are not anxiously engaged in creating and maintaining a Christ-centered home.
Third, we start listening.
With your spouse, council together on how you want to approach the topic of pornography with your kids, and how often you want to discuss its dangers. Together, prayerfully create a home where open communication is key and where your kids can ask you anything. It is natural for kids and teens to be curious about the topic of sexual intimacy. If our kids can feel comfortable asking us about sexual intimacy, they will be less likely to turn to unreliable sources when seeking answers. As parents, we can better educate our kids when we promote an atmosphere of healthy curiosity.
Fourth, we start talking.
Help teach your kids about what pornography is and where they are most likely to encounter it (i.e. social media). When discussing pornography with your sons and daughters, be sure to educate your kids on what healthy sexual intimacy is as well. As your kids come to understand what healthy sexual intimacy is, they’ll be better equipped to identify toxic sexual behavior.
The following tips will greatly help you:
- Validate your kids when it comes to their curiosity
- Create a response plan for when your kids will be exposed
- Remind your kids that porn can be addictive
- Teach your kids about technology through a gospel lens– to be respectful and kind online.
- Teach your kids to use tech for good, not merely as a pacifier.
- Make sure your kids understand that no one is perfect; everyone makes mistakes, everyone sins, and repentance is very possible!
Lastly, do not take counsel from your fears.
It’s natural to feel overwhelmed or intimidated when it comes to discussing tough topics like the dangers of online pornography, but remember, you are not alone. Your Heavenly Parents are looking out for you and have provided several tools to aid you. You have the power of prayer before starting these discussions, the Holy Ghost to prompt you, General Conference talks to inspire you, and resources created by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to help you.
Make sure you create firm rules and consequences when it comes to tech use, but most importantly, teach your kids that repentance is always an option. Our children must understand that repentance is always positive. As Elder Stephen W. Owen, Young Men General President in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said, “Too often we think of repentance as something miserable and depressing. But God’s plan is the plan of happiness, not the plan of misery! Repentance is uplifting and ennobling. It’s sin that brings unhappiness. Repentance is our escape route!”
You can do this! It’s not nearly as difficult as you might think and your kids deserve to be warned about the dangers.
Looking for more resources on talking to your kids about the dangers of online pornography? Check out, How to Talk to your Kids about Pornography or one of our other amazing resources to talk about tough topics.
Dina Alexander is the founder of Educate and Empower Kids (educateempowerkids.org), an organization determined to strengthen families by teaching digital citizenship, media literacy, and healthy sexuality education—including education about the dangers of online porn. She is the creator of How to Talk to Your Kids About Pornography, the 30 Days of Sex Talks and 30 Days to a Stronger Child programs. She is also the author of Noah’s New Phone: A Story About Using Technology for Good and Petra’s Power to See: A Media Literacy Adventure.
Most recently, Dina has published This is the Spirit of Revelation for Latter-day Saint children and their families, and Conversations with My Kids, 30 Essential Family Discussions for the Digital Age.
Dines, Gail. “The Porn Crisis: What We Need to Know About It.” Dr. Gail Dines, www.gaildines.com/the-porn-crisis/.
Kearns, Madeleine. “Big Porn Seeks to Capitalize on the Pandemic.” National Review, National Review, 24 Mar. 2020, www.nationalreview.com/2020/03/coronavirus-lockdowns-porn-companies-see-opportunity-in-isolation/.
Owen, Stephen W. “Repentance Is Always Positive.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Oct. 2017, www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2017/10/repentance-is-always-positive?lang=eng.
We Must Build Immunity to this Deadly Force
“Pornography is like a raging storm, destroying individuals and families, utterly ruining what was once wholesome and beautiful.”–Gordon B. Hinckley
Ready to Start Talking?
Written by LDS parents and professional, How to Talk to Your Kids about Pornography has simple, helpful advice for parents of children ages 6-18. Find out where to start, what discussions to have, and how to protect your family from the dangers of online porn.
Available on Amazon.