Take the Initiative

Rather than waiting for problems to emerge, I recommend taking the initiative and teaching your children about pornography and online safety before it’s too late. The trade-off here is that “the knowledge of sin tempteth to its commission,”29 so many parents are concerned that by bringing this material up with their children, they will inadvertently plant the desire in the children to go seek pornography or other illicit material. I’m convinced of two things: 1) Almost any child old enough to attend young men and young women is already beyond old enough to deal with this material in a mature and beneficial manner; 2) When coupled with instruction concerning the true doctrine of sexuality, a family council or family home evening lesson on the risks of Internet pornography can be a spiritually uplifting and nurturing experience.

Lest parents become overly concerned about the negative effects of frank discussions with their children about technology and sexuality, two data points may be valuable: 1) In a study of thousands of high school students, girls who less frequently discussed media experiences with their parents had nearly twice the sexual experience rate of those whose discussions were more frequent.30 2) Individuals raised with little education about sexuality seem to be more vulnerable to influences of sexually explicit media than are people raised with more education about sexuality.31

When we couple frankness with true doctrine, we give the Spirit an opportunity to teach and convert.

29 Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. (1939), 373.
30 Patricia M. Greenfield, “Inadvertent Exposure to Pornography on the Internet: Implications of Peer-to-peer File-sharing Networks for Child Development and Families,” Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 25, no. 6 (2004): 741-50.
31 Ibid.

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