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RESOURCE CENTER AND ARCHIVES

Cell phones make porn more accessible to youthcomment (0)

April 22, 2010


Raising children and teens in a sexually charged culture was difficult long before cell phones and the Internet came along, but when technology combined the two into one handheld device — and added a camera — it became, some would say, nearly impossible.

Add to that the mix of social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, all of which allow instant and far-reaching communication, and the task gets even tougher.

Consider the fact that the fourth-most searched word on the Internet for kids ages 7 and under in 2009 was “porn,” according to data by OnlineFamily.Norton.com. For all kids up to age 18, sex was No. 4, porn No. 5.

And, Web-enabled cell phones — which are growing in popularity and are by their very nature tough to monitor — will become the nation’s primary connection tool to the Internet by 2020, experts in a Pew Internet & American Life Project predict.

Still, it’s not impossible to protect kids, said Rick Schatz, president of the National Coalition for the Protection of Children & Families, a Christian organization that assists parents and families in living sexually pure lives. It simply requires following some common sense steps and teaching biblical values, he said.

“Technology has changed the world ... in ways that were unimaginable even five years ago, much less 15 or 20 years ago,” Schatz said at a recent gathering of Southern Baptist state ethics leaders hosted by the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “This is only going to get more problematic unless we understand how to deal with it. The issue is not going away.”

Schatz’s organization urges parents to monitor their kids’ computer usage closely. He recommends that parents take a series of steps to help protect their children.

“It’s irresponsible to hide behind the statement that ‘I’m not tech-savvy,’ because our kids and our grandkids are tech-savvy,” he said.

Following are steps that the National Coalition says can be taken immediately:

• Install a filter and monitoring system on all computers in the home. Some of the more popular filters are by InternetSafety.com, CovenantEyes.com and BSecure.com. InternetSafety and BSecure also offer filters for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

• Activate parental controls on any wireless router.

• Place all computers in a public place and avoid putting computers in bedrooms.

• Install/activate the parental control program on all cell phones.

• Ask your children if they have sent or received “sext” messages. Sexting is the act of sending sexually explicit messages, photos or videos, generally via cell phones. A Pew Research Center Internet & American Life Project survey released in December showed that 15 percent of 12–17-year-olds who own cell phones had received a “sext” message.

• Become familiar with your kids’ gaming systems and online capabilities. The Wii gaming system, for instance, can go online through a wireless router.

• Join the social media sites — such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter — that your children belong to, and know their passwords.

• Collect all cell phones at night for recharging to ensure there is no late-night talking, texting or Internet surfing.

Additionally, the National Coalition recommends that parents follow five ongoing steps to help build a relationship with their children: 1) develop a dialogue about sexuality and purity; 2) equip kids to make wise choices when you are not around; 3) model purity and watch on television only what you’d want them to watch; 4) take advantage of teachable moments; 5) educate yourself about today’s technology.

“The only hope we have with our kids is to help them develop an inner moral compass,” Schatz said. “You cannot build the impregnable bubble, folks. It doesn’t work. You may think it’s an impregnable bubble, but no matter what you’ve done in your home, you can’t do it for your whole neighborhood. You can’t do it for your kid’s schools.”   (BP)

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