In the meantime, be aware of danger signs. Obsessing about computer time is a concern. When children exhibit obsessive attitudes about online access, it’s a sign of imbalance. Pornography addiction is one of the strongest draws for excessive time online. Since addiction is, by its nature, irrational, when you see irrational behaviors concerning technology, there’s a good chance that some form of addiction is at play, whether it involves pornography or not.
Be aware of the spiritual pulse of your children. Again, that’s not specific to pornography, but individuals of any age who are struggling with pornography suffer spiritually. While they may think that their behaviors are private (or in cases of deep self-deception, harmless) individual loss of the Spirit affects everyone in the immediate area, particularly those closest to the individual. Loss of the Spirit due to pornography addiction may lead to increased aggressiveness, impatience, emotional detachment, and loss of normal expressions of affection. When you see those symptoms, you already know that something is going on in the life of an individual. It doesn’t have to be pornography, but it’s wise to consider that possibility seriously and not simply dismiss the idea with, “My child (or spouse) would never do something like that!” Your child would, even in a good home. Most children in this generation have at least one exposure to pornography during their growing up years. If they’re normal, it will provide a significant attraction to them.
In addition to emotional and spiritual cues, look for behaviors associated with the computer or communication devices. When you come into the room, does the screen suddenly change, or does the child suddenly turn off the monitor or close the laptop lid? Does the child position himself or herself in such a way that nobody can see what’s on the computer screen? Does the child strongly resist the idea of relinquishing their cell phone at night? Check cell phone bills for Internet or web charges which may be an indicator of problems.
Earlier in this chapter I mentioned filtering, and most good filters include email notifications that are sent to the administrator when attempts are made to access certain material. That doesn’t mean that your job as a parent is done—that’s when it really begins. If you get an email that someone in your home has attempted to access something inappropriate, even borderline, it is an opportunity to have a conversation, to teach with the Spirit, and to help strengthen the individuals involved. I strongly recommend similar solutions for married couples, and unmarried adult roommates. Everyone’s vulnerable to pornography, and having an ally in the fight provides a great deal of strength and support to adults and children alike.
Check the browser history. Most browsers support private browsing mode, or at least the ability to delete history entries. An empty or incomplete browser history is a sign of suspicious behavior on the part of a child.
Image by the National Library of Ireland on The Commons via Wikimedia Commons.