My wife loves to bake. We are vigilant about protecting our kids — ages one and three — from the hot oven. Anytime they come too close, for safety, we call out "DANGER!" While this works well most of the time, they sometimes still get burned.
When this happens we strive to respond with love and care. Curiosity is to blame for the injury. This curiosity grows into an appetite for what the oven produces - cookies.
Just as my children need love and care when injured, they will need that same level of love and care when confronted by pornography. Some may not consider this a cause for worry. Research indicates otherwise.
Children are bombarded by pornographic messages every day
According to Family Safe Media, 90 percent of children ages 8 to 16 have viewed Internet pornography, with the average age of first exposure about 11 years old.
Pornography is addictive because it creates a chemical dependency similar to illegal drugs. Consider the term "erototoxin," introduced by Dr. Judith Reisman:
"Pornography triggers a myriad of endogenous, internal, natural drugs that mimic the 'high' from a street drug. Addiction to pornography is addiction to what I dub erototoxins-mind altering drugs produced by the viewer's own brain."
Now, take a moment to consider why pornography is harmful. Dr. Donald Hilton Jr., neurosurgeon and authority on pornography addiction, observed that over time, pornography addiction produces brain damage similar to the conditions produced by disease and trauma. Scary.
Thankfully, there can be healing and recovery due to the brain's wonderful neuroplasticity. If your child has been exposed or has become addicted, there is hope.
But they will need your help.
Educate yourself and your family about pornography
The ancient Chinese warrior Sun Tzu said, "If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles."
Prepare to educate your children about pornography. Avoid exposure by turning to safe and credible sources of information. These two sites can get you started:
Become familiar with the technology available to your family
When I worked as a sales associate for Best Buy, I learned how quickly technology changes in a very short period of time. You must be up to date on the technology you allow into your home. Follow these practical suggestions:
Seek knowledgeable people and ask questions
Read consumer reviews
Learn about parental controls and safeties
InternetMatters.org is dedicated to informing parents about technology. Along with articles and guides, they offer an interactive guide for setting up parental controls on most devices.
You can be a source of safety for your children
Be mindful and intentional in how you choose to respond to each of your children when you know they have been exposed to or involved with pornography.
Pornography addiction thrives on secrecy and isolation. Overreacting will almost certainly push your child away. The feelings that drive overreactions are powerful - but equally powerful are the messages that overreactions communicate to your child.
Here is a must-have guide on how to talk to children about pornography.
No matter how long you have been married, or how old your children are, this information is vital to your family's well-being.