Parent Alert: Is Roblox Safe for Kids? Watch Out for These 4 Dangers

Parent Alert: Is Roblox Safe for Kids? Watch Out for These 4 Dangers

Our regular Parent Alert! news updates help parents stay ahead of the trends affecting kids in our hypersexualized culture.

4 Dangers of Roblox

Do your kids enjoy Roblox? It can be creative fun, but you also need to understand and guard against some significant risks to your kids!

What is Roblox?

Roblox is a multiplayer online game creation platform. Users create their own games and play games created by others.  Players can also buy, sell and create virtual items. It’s free to download on iOS and Android devices, computers, and XBox.

There are 90 million monthly active users on Roblox, appealing to users as young as six years old! Roblox has been number one in online entertainment for kids under 13, and second for teens ages 13 – 17.

Four dangers to prepare kids to avoid:

1. Beware of predators using third-party chat apps

Even with parental controls turned on and chat messaging turned off, predators have found a way to communicate with children while they play Roblox.  

Third-party chat apps are designed to look like they are part of the game, when in fact they are a back door to your child.

One mom noticed that her son began to change in his behavior and no longer wanted to take part in family activities.  

When she checked her son’s game, she realized that he had been messaging with others through a third-party chat app rather than through the game itself.  To her horror, she discovered that her son had been groomed into sending explicit photos of himself to strangers!

Tip:  Continue to check up on your children’s games, even when you have set up parental controls.  Teach your child to leave a game right away and report to you if he is contacted by a stranger, asked to send photos, or share personal information. 

 2.  Watch out for sexualized avatars

Another mom noticed that her six-year-old daughter had been invited into a “sex room” by a “friend” while playing Roblox.  All the Roblox characters were involved in various sex acts!  

Players may also be exposed to avatars that have been programmed to perform sexual or demeaning acts during a game.

 Tip: Be sure to put parental controls on the highest settings for your younger children. Roblox has a short guide for parents with tips including how to quickly block and report an inappropriate player.  Parents can also restrict the types of games that their children can play on Roblox, especially those featuring sensitive or scary content. 

3.  Be cautious with Roblox YouTube videos

Many players record their Roblox games and upload them to YouTube. Unfortunately YouTube is full of Roblox videos featuring sexual content or violent themes such as school shootings.  Code words like “shex” instead of sex are used in the keywords to get around the filters.

Tip:  YouTube is notorious for its sexploitation problems, so it’s not surprising to find out that kids can find inappropriate Roblox videos.  There’s too much risk here for young children, so it’s best to not let them go looking for videos.  Stick to the actual game with parental controls set high, and follow up with continual monitoring.

4. Look out for bypassed audios

Some players share inappropriate content by using “bypassed audio”. Bypasses are things like swear words, racial slurs, or offensive songs that players get past (bypass) the Roblox moderators.  

TipKeep kids close when they are playing online games. This way you can see if anything inappropriate is showing up visually or audibly. Remember that when kids use headphones to play games, you can’t check up on what they are hearing.

Prepare your young kids to be safe with Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr: A Simple Plan to Protect Young Minds CLICK HERE to learn how to protect kids ages 3-6 from the dangers of pornography.

HBO’s New Series Euphoria Exhibits Sexual Exploitation of Teens

“There are going to be parents who are going to be totally (bleep) freaked out.”

Sam Levinson, writer for HBO’s disturbing new show for teens, Euphoria

Season 1 of HBO’s Euphoria premiered on June 16 with a confirmed second season in the works.  The show delivers on the shock value, with “unflinching displays of nudity, drugs, sex and other things that can keep parents up at night.”

The opening scene shows an emotionally disturbed teen abusing alcohol and drugs to numb her pain.  Abusive themes dominate the show, mostly shown in graphic details: rape of a 17-year old by a much older man, pornography, sexual violence (choking during sex), “slut-shaming” and other forms of sexual abuse.

Here are some of the ways it can be viewed:

  • The show can be streamed on demand through HBO GO and HBO NOW apps on any device.
  • The first episode is streaming for free on HBO. 
  • Viewers without HBO can also add HBO access to their Amazon Prime account (with free trial). 

Warning: Parents are strongly cautioned to keep their kids and teens away from this show.  It unapologetically exploits teens.  It’s voyeuristic, pornographic, and offers no hope for teens caught up in cycles of drug and/or sexual abuse. One reviewer calls it “smut disguised as ‘art.’” 

Bleak. Deadening. Lurid. This is not a show you want your kids exposed to.

A teaching opportunity

Euphoria is just one of many dark shows that remind us how critical it is to teach kids about making good media choices. You can help them be resilient and learn to reject the toxic aspects of our culture.

Some conversation tips:

  1.   Talk to your teens about this show.  Ask them what they know about it. Is it being talked about in their peer group, or on their social media?  (Note: This show is trending with teens, like the toxic, fan-fiction movie After.)
  2.   Help your child to understand the fundamental lies that these types of shows promote, including the normalization of sexual and drug abuse. 
  3.   Talk with your teen or tween about how to develop healthy peer relationships by setting boundaries – both online and in person. 

National Center on Sexual Exploitation has an easy way for parents to contact HBO about the sexually exploitative content in Euphoria.

When you stay updated on the latest risks affecting your child, you have the power to teach them to be safe. We can help!

Get your free guide to Talk Today, Safer Tomorrow: Top 10 Easy Conversation Starters! Click the image below.

It isn’t as hard as you think to start teaching kids to be safe from pornography. This guide will help you get started!

Explicit Content in 7 Top Music Apps – A Parent’s Guide

Explicit Content in 7 Top Music Apps – A Parent’s Guide

Chances are, your kids love to listen to music and share it with friends. 

With so many music apps out there, which one is right for your family? Especially since so much music has explicit lyrics that you don’t want your kids boppin’ to!

The American Academy of Pediatrics warns, 

“Music plays an important role in the socialization of children and adolescents. Parents often are unaware of the lyrics their children are listening to because of the increasing use of downloaded music and headphones. Lyrics have become more explicit in their references to drugs, sex, and violence over the years. It is essential for pediatricians and parents to take a stand regarding music lyrics.

Some music streaming services definitely make it easier than others to to block objectionable content. To help you out, we have a reference guide to help you compare seven main music apps.  (Note: We prioritized parental controls over other considerations.)

What parents need to know about music streaming, explicit content, and kids

Some of these apps allow you to block playback of explicit music. However, none of them block “thematically mature” music that doesn’t have explicit lyrics. We interpret “thematically mature” as references to sex, violence, drugs, alcohol, and otherwise inappropriate content for young people. Talking with kids about your values and why some music can be harmful is always a parent’s responsibility!

In addition to music, also be aware if the app shows music videos, podcasts, album art, and ads that don’t meet your standards.

Tips:

  • All of the apps are available on both IOS and Android.
  • Most of the apps are for ages 13+, usually with parent permission for the teens. The exceptions are noted below.
  • To keep kids from upgrading their music accounts to versions with more features, restrict in-app purchases on their devices on iOS and Android.
  • Paid family plans cost pretty much the same, around $14.99 per month for 6 members.

Here’s the rundown on music apps from safest to scariest!

What is Apple Music?

  • Apple Music is a paid service that lets you stream 50 million songs plus your iTunes library. Family accounts give access to 6 people.

Risks and Parental Controls on Apple Music

  • Apple has good parental controls that prevent explicit content in music, music videos, podcasts and news. If there is an edited “clean” version of a song, it will play that in instead of the explicit version.
  • Parents can set a code so that kids can’t change the settings.
  • Learn to turn off explicit content in Apple Music on Android or how to set up parental controls on iPhone, iPad, and iPod.

Bottom line

  • Apple Music has the best parental controls for families.

What is Amazon Music?

  • Amazon Prime Music is available free with an Amazon Prime membership, or you can upgrade to paid Music Unlimited plans with more music and features. It’s easily accessible through Alexa and Echo voice-enabled devices.
  • An Unlimited Family Plan (paid) allows 6 members access. Everyone on the plan will be able to make purchases with the credit card on the account.
  • Perk: always ad-free!

Risks and Parental Controls on Amazon Music

Bottom Line

  • Amazon Music isn’t perfect, but with some set-up and monitoring it’s better than apps that don’t have explicit filters.

 

What is Pandora?

  • Pandora is a music streaming app that allows users to create custom channels tailored to their preferences.
  • Free version with ads; can upgrade to ad-free paid plans with more features. Family plan available for six members. Learn more about subscriptions here.

Risks and Parental Controls on Pandora

  • You can restrict Pandora from playing songs or displaying ads with explicit language on Pandora radio stations – but not from “on-demand” content including podcasts and playlists. (On-demand content is only available in the Premium subscription.)
  • It’s easy for kids to go turn off the explicit filter setting.
  • Explicit tracks are identified with the “E” label. The explicit filter only removes explicit language. It will still play songs with “mature themes” and show suggestive album artwork. 
  • Learn to set explicit content filters on Pandora here.

Bottom Line

  • Not for younger children. Parental guidance is strongly suggested for older kids. 

What is iHeart Radio?

Risks and Parental Controls on iHeart Radio

  • The main iHeartRadio app does not offer parental controls to remove explicit content. The Live Radio stations do have to meet standards for broadcasting set by the FCC, so there are some restrictions in place there. 

Bottom Line

  • For those with younger kids, iHeart Radio Family is a good option. We don’t recommend the main iHeartRadio service since it has no explicit content filters.

What is Spotify?

Risks and Parental Controls on Spotify

Bottom Line

  • We don’t recommend Spotify as a good choice for kids and families.

What is Google Play Music?

Risks and Parental Controls on Google Play Music

  • Google’s music service allows you to block explicit songs in radio channels, but this only works on the website, not the mobile app. Also, the filter doesn’t apply to the library of streaming music, which is arguably the whole point of subscribing. 
  • Contrary to what it sounds like, even using Family Link  does not block inappropriate content.

Bottom Line

  • This app doesn’t have the parental controls you want in place to protect your kids.

What is TIDAL?

  • TIDAL is a subscription-based music streaming app owned by singer Jay-Z.  It features exclusive agreement contracts with various music artists (e.g., Beyoncé) and is known for high-quality sound.

Risks and Parental Controls on TIDAL

  • There are no parental controls or labeling for explicit content. It provides both songs and videos, so explicit content can be heard and seen. 
  • Read this mom’s story about her frustration discovering profanity and suggestive lyrics in TIDAL’s Kids Corner playlist.  The company’s refusal to correct this situation is even more disturbing!

Bottom Line

  • Strong Caution! We wouldn’t recommend this app for anyone who wants to avoid explicit content.    

The most-used music apps

Now that you know more about the parental controls in these music apps, you might be interested to know which ones are used by the most people!

Teaching Kids to Choose the Best Music

We listen to an average of 4.5 hours of music each day! Music absolutely does influence us. A study from University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston reported that

Youth in 7th grade who listen to rap music for three or more hours each day are more likely to believe that their peers are having sex, and are 2.6 times more likely to have had sex by ninth grade.

At some point kids will have control and decide what music they want to listen to. Here are some questions to start conversations that can help them evaluate what messages they want to accept in their music.

  1. What does that song teach us about bodies? Does it encourage respect for our amazing bodies?
  2. What does that music teach about relationships? Is it in line with our values for healthy, happy relationships?
  3. What does that song teach about sexuality? Do you think it is trying to influence what people think is normal and appropriate?
  4. Lots of music seems to be designed to make people think about sex. Why do you think that is? How can we hold on to the important values and beliefs we have?

When you teach your kids to be aware of messages in music, it gives them power to choose! It’s actually easier than ever to take control and create your own playlists filled with good music. It will be worth the effort!

Free guide for starting those tough conversations

Wondering what to say? You can get our most popular guide with some great ideas to help you with this! Just click below for your copy of Talk Today Safer Tomorrow: Top 10 Easy Conversation Starters.

Dad Power: How One Man Changed Everything to Save Himself and His Family

Dad Power: How One Man Changed Everything to Save Himself and His Family

Coby Mitchell is passionate about helping his kids be safe in our sexualized society. He is passionate because this is personal for him. Coby, like many fathers, knows what it is like to be exposed to pornography as a child. But this is one dad determined not to let his children be affected by porn like he was.

Coby shows us how a dad can change everything to save his family.

Coby’s story

Coby was only 7 years old when a neighbor girl across the street showed him her stepdad’s porn magazine collection. He was immediately intrigued by what he saw. Once he returned home that day, he was ready to go back and see it again at the drop of a hat.

This single exposure, with no one to help him process what he had seen, was the beginning of what developed into an addiction to pornography that lasted 31 years. Coby says he developed a deep shame for his own sexuality; afraid that anyone who knew his secret would certainly reject him. As a young man he was particularly afraid of what women he dated would think.

So he kept it a secret.

Coby thought getting married would stop his addiction; but he found marriage only magnified the impact on those he loved. His wife, Ashlynn, could tell something was wrong the first week after their honeymoon. Three years after marriage, Ashlynn caught Coby looking at pornography. Not knowing how to respond, they moved forward, hoping it would go away on its own.

Instead Coby dove deeper into secrecy, which led to two emotional affairs with other women over the next 13 years, one including sexting. Coby finally sought professional help.

It took a couple of attempts before they found a therapist with special training in pornography addiction recovery before he began to heal. Through this process, Coby became a different man and their marriage recovered. Now they both dedicate themselves to helping couples and individuals heal from the effects of pornography addiction.

Learn more about Coby and Ashlynn’s work at the links below:

Podcast: The Betrayed, the Addicted, the Expert

Websites:

How Coby is raising his kids to be safe and strong

I asked Coby how he and Ashlynn keep their kids safe from the effects of pornography in today’s world. Two of the keys to their success are:

  • Not being afraid to talk
  • Not putting off needed conversations

PYM: When did you first tell your kids about pornography?

Coby: My wife and I first read Good Pictures/Bad Pictures to our daughters when they were three and five.

PYM: I’ve heard a lot of parents say their kids are too young to have conversations about porn. They think doing so might ruin their innocence. What are your thoughts on this?

Coby: I think this spawns from a parent who is uninformed, uncomfortable, and scared. The truth is, it’s not a matter of innocence. The makers of porn will seek your kids out and they will be exposed to it whether parents like it or not. And it’s only going to get worse with time.

We have to face the reality that our kids are going to be exposed to porn. I’d rather they learn the truth about porn from me than have a friend tell them about porn. What our kids don’t know will hurt them. And sometimes that hurt can change the course of their life. As I said, my wife and I first started talking to my kids when they were only three and five.

Kids accept the message well

PYM: What was your girls’ reaction when you first read Good Pictures Bad Pictures with them?

Coby: The kids didn’t ask a lot of questions, it was, “Oh, I need to come tell you when I see it? Okay.” They were just absorbent to the message.

PYM: What kinds of things have you told them about pornography since then?

Coby: This is an ongoing conversation that unfolds as they are old enough to understand how pornography affects us. We tell them that the internet is designed to make sure kids see porn, so we have to be really careful with it. We tell them that pornography hurts your spouse if you use it. We ask them to tell us if they ever see pornography–and that they will not be in trouble for telling us.

PYM: Has exposure happened to your kids?

Coby: Yes. They are nine and eleven now. Some kid at school showed them pornography when they were younger. When that happens they come home and tell us what happened. We don’t get mad at our girls when this happens. Instead we try to put the situation in context and be supportive of them.

PYM: What about ongoing conversations. What does that look like?

Coby: For young kids, reading the book Good Pictures Bad Pictures regularly is a good idea. There is a toddler’s edition and a young kids’ version. Reading this monthly is a good practice.

Then as kids grow into puberty, they get really savvy about internet devices. So a good regular conversation with an adolescent could start by saying, “Tell me about how you’ve been exposed to porn in the last four weeks.” Having a canned question like that ready to go really helps a parent. It’s not a matter of catching them or punishing them, but to find out what they are experiencing and provide emotional support to safely guide them.

The unique power of dads teaching and protecting kids in a sexualized society

PYM: Why do you think it’s important for dads to have these conversations with their kids?

Coby: A father’s role in influencing their kids on moral issues is really critical. Kids look to dads as protectors who will keep them safe. He’s the one than can deliver a message in a way that is unique from what mom can do.

What is even better is when Dad can have a conversation about porn with Mom by his side. That kind of continuity between husband and wife is powerful. It cements the idea that what we are saying is true.

PYM: You have daughters. A lot of people think this is mainly an issue to talk to boys about. What would you say to someone who thinks that?

Coby: That might have been the case in the 70s and 80s, but because the makers of porn are seeking all children, you can bank on your girls being exposed to porn whether you like it or not. Girls can develop a dependency on porn the same as boys. Porn makers are looking for life-long clients; both boys and girls.

PYM: Do your girls know your story with porn, and do you think this is important for dads to pass on to their kids?

Coby: Yes. I told them one day when we were on the way to an event I was speaking at. Our youngest daughter, who was six at the time, asked what I was going to talk about. I looked at my wife and she nodded.

So I told my girls that I was exposed to bad pictures when I was seven, and since no one told me what to do I kept looking for more bad pictures whenever I could. I told them that eventually I could not control my urge to look at bad pictures, and in time that was almost all I thought about.

I told them I hid this from mom and that hurt her. Then I explained I went to a special therapist and now I’m better. I told my girls that I was speaking to help others who look at porn get better too.

I wanted to demonstrate for my girls how to be honest about when we see porn. I wanted them to understand that I know first hand how porn can negatively affect us.

And it didn’t faze my daughters. My six-year-old’s response was simply, “Okay.”

PYM: What is your best advice to other dads?

Coby: Kids are going to see porn whether you teach them or not. It is best if they learn the truth from us than learn about porn on the playground. It’s best to have a dialogue with kids and demonstrate they will not be in trouble for what they tell us. Then kids will come to parents when they need help.

Tips for parents

A few tips for dads, as well as moms, are:

  • Have all devices charge overnight in central location, monitored by Mom and Dad
  • Use screen time settings on devices to limit times of access
  • Have a good filtering/monitoring system
  • Have regular conversations about pornography that are really casual

The best-case scenario is when kids tell us every time they are exposed to porn. We need to be sure they understand that porn is make-believe … fantasy, not real. We don’t want kids exposed at a young age and not understanding this is fantasy, not real, not healthy, and not responsible.

Dads matter

A father’s opinion, spoken or not, carries a lot of weight with children. Children will naturally look to their father to gauge his reaction when things come up. When a father speaks up on the issue of pornography, children listen. Children notice when a father takes steps to protect children from pornography coming into the house. We fathers can follow Coby’s example in preparing our children to be safe in a world full of pornography.

Wondering how to start talking and keep talking?

Get our free list to help you begin discussing pornography with kids in safe and comfortable way: Talk Today, Safer Tomorrow: Top Ten Easy Conversation Starters. Click the image below!

What 10 Parents Learned When Their Child Was Caught in a Porn Trap [Part 1]

What 10 Parents Learned When Their Child Was Caught in a Porn Trap [Part 1]

In this 3-part series, follow along as 10 parents describe their journey of helping a child overcome the addictive pull of pornography—and the advice they hope to pass along.

Over the past three months, I’ve listened to the profound stories shared by parents from homes across North America. They’ve told me about their amazing kids. Kids who are kind and considerate. Outgoing and funny. Smart and ambitious.

Kids who in the blink of an eye (literally) found themselves caught in the porn trap.

As you continue reading, do your best to set aside fears, doubts, or pre-conceptions of what it must be like to raise a kid struggling with porn. Unfortunately, many good kids do get caught in the porn trap. Maybe they weren’t warned. Or maybe the pull to look was just. that. strong.

Either way, overcoming pornography is a challenging road — one we don’t wish upon any child. What we’ve discovered is that these good kids fare much better when they have parents who are willing to walk beside them, fight for them, love them … and never give up.

What 10 parents want you to know

These parents agreed to share the details of their experience because they want you to know:

  • First, how urgent it is that we start this conversation TODAY and keep following up.
  • Second, some of your closest friends need your support and understanding.
  • Third, you’re not alone if you have a child struggling with pornography.

Finally, these parents want you to know that if you’re helping a child find their way out of the porn trap, recovery and healing are possible.

The stories are anonymous — all names have been changed.

Reaction, realization, and reflection

In this first part of a 3-part series, parents describe the journey they’ve been on since first discovering their child’s pornography habits. As you continue you will learn more about their:

  • Initial reactions and the frustration of finding adequate support
  • Understanding obstacles on the road to recovery
  • Realizations about their role in their child’s recovery
  • Reflections, progress, and practical advice for other parents

We know these stories will increase your compassion for those fighting to free kids from the porn trap.

NOTE: There isn’t time or space to share each family’s full story. Because we are recounting the real-life experience of families overcoming trauma, it may seem discouraging at the outset. Keep reading. You will soon find yourself in a beautiful story of redemption. It’s true! The hardest trials in life are often what lead to our sweetest and greatest moments.

PYM: How did you first react when you found your child was looking at inappropriate things?

Some parents happened upon pornographic materials in their child’s search history. Other discoveries were more extreme. Toni’s son (age 11) exposed himself to a young neighbor girl (who by good fortune, immediately told her mother). Ruth learned that her son (age 15) had downloaded a file containing hundreds of child abuse images when the police showed up to search their home.

Regardless of the circumstances surrounding discovery, each parent expressed that they felt overwhelmed by the situation and ill-prepared to offer their child practical solutions.  

I assumed we could talk through the crisis

“We did our best with the knowledge we had at the time. Our initial solution was to talk it through, lock down the internet for a time, and help our child (age 12) make plans to do better. We assumed that would be enough. But we weren’t accounting for the cravings pornography had introduced to our son.”  — Sharon

I had no script for that

“I thought I was prepared to handle the idea that my son (age 12) was looking at pornography. I’m not saying I condoned it. But I had grown up knowing that my dad had a stash of magazines in the house. What I was not prepared for was the nature of the pornography we found … It was so far beyond what I could have imagined. I didn’t have a script for that. I’m sure I made all sorts of mistakes trying to make sense of it.” — Josh

We had no one to turn to for help

“Our son (age 13) was masturbating up to 7 times a day and had constant thoughts to expose himself. This issue was bigger than anything anyone had ever seen before. The school was of no help. Our church was of little help. We found therapists and programs geared for adults. But it seemed there nothing for children.”  — Toni

We needed better tools

“We first sought counseling through our church. But back then, no one was making the connection on how porn affects the brain. Or how the brain affects behavior — not even therapists. Their focus was on getting my son (age 14) to replace his unhealthy habits with more uplifting thoughts. Unfortunately, these weren’t the tools that could help him.” — Alana

“Have you wanted to talk to your kids about pornography, but didn’t know what to say?! I’ve felt that way for quite some time and finally found a solution – Good Pictures Bad Pictures. . . I highly recommend this book to all people with children. A must have for all parents!” – Amazon Review. CLICK HERE to learn more about Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids.

PYM: What have been some your child’s greatest obstacles in overcoming the pull to return to pornography?

Most of the parents pointed out that their timeline for their child’s recovery and their child’s own timeline were very different. Even when children understood the negative impact of pornography on their lives, they were hesitant to put in the effort needed to make changes to their behavior. SImply put, for the child at that point in time, using pornography felt too good to give up.

The attractive nature of pornography

“I don’t think he was ready [at first] to commit himself to the idea of letting go. He still liked it too much.” — Sharon

Their natural character traits get hijacked by porn

“Our oldest son is very outgoing. He’s also incredibly smart and investigative by nature. In a way I think that made him more vulnerable to pornography. His thirst for information drew him back in time and time again.

And yet, his younger brother, who is more socially introverted, also struggled. For him, pornography was likely used to fill a gap left by loneliness and boredom.” — Alana

Related: How Porn Hijacks Young Brains

Mental health problems complicated our son’s recovery

“Not long after our son had begun using pornography we noticed significant changes in behavior (violent outbursts). With the help of a therapist, we learned that our son was suffering from OCD. Pornography didn’t create his illness but it was intensified because of it. Understanding there were other factors a play helped us set better expectations all around.” — Macey

Note: When pre-existing mental health issues were discovered parents agreed on two things:

  • First, pornography use exaggerated their child’s negative behavioral symptoms.
  • Second, understanding their child’s mental health became a key factor in helping them overcome their reliance on pornography,

“Our son became so depressed in the sophomore year that he ended up leaving school for a time. We didn’t understand what was going on then. Now, I realize that there were signs of depression even from when he was younger. Once he was diagnosed properly and got the meds he needed, he started to succeed at school and life again.” — Sarah

Struggling with his identity and searching for answers

“I had to understand two things before I could appreciate my son’s struggle with porn. First, he was dealing with same-gender attraction. Second, porn is absolutely EVERYWHERE. The accessibility is ridiculous.” — Josh

PYM: What have you learned while helping your child heal from pornography?

A general theme among all the interviews was that parents felt they needed to find a way to support their child’s recovery without being overbearing. Still, even when parents learned to relinquish control, their involvement was in no way passive. Rather they learned to become proactive minus “the panic.”

Let go of the blame and shame

“Porn is a real problem in the real world. It’s a challenge that hits a lot of kids hard. I needed to recognize that my son was going through his own life experience — a big oops — that with concerted effort he could eventually put in his past. At first, I felt an overwhelming sense of blame, shame, and panic. But that wasn’t helping either of us.” — Sharon

I cannot take his addiction away

“I’ve learned to give my children space to grow their own strong roots. I am a very protective mother by nature. I want to step in and do things for my children. My son was very young when he was first introduced to pornography. I cannot blame him for that. But I’ve also learned that I cannot take his addiction away from him. He has to do the work himself.” — Sarah

Live in the present moment

“I needed to see my child for the individual he is; rather than a walking version of my future fears. I do so much better when I’m able to stay in the present. I try to take the approach of ‘what can I do at this moment that will help my son?’ If I start to panic about the future that’s when things get really scary.” — Macey

Look for the right kind of support

“When there’s an addiction involved, the best thing is to find your child a therapeutic level of support — something that combines the science of addiction with the spiritual aspect of healing.

I am not in charge of my child’s healing or how fast that happens. I can not save my child. No human can save another human. My role is to love, support, and believe that they will heal. The timing of when and how that happens has everything to do with him, not me.” — Toni

Related: Does My Child Need Counseling? Reassuring Advice from a Porn Addiction Therapist

What advice would you give to other parents? Is there anything you would have done differently?

Kids need tools they feel good about

“Get involved immediately. Help your son or daughter find the tools that work for them. Be aggressive. Check in regularly. Find out what is helping and what is not. Fighting pornography addiction means retraining your brain, learning to avoid triggers, and responding differently when an impulse starts. It’s not about will power. Kids need tools they feel good about. And the right tools make all the difference!” — Alana

One recovery resource that is available to all ages in any location is Fortify. It’s an online program designed to equip individuals struggling with compulsive pornography use – young and old – with tools, education and community to assist them in reaching lasting freedom. Their mission is to help spark an uprising of people tired of porn messing with their lives – and ready for something far better. Check it out!

Be prepared beyond prevention

“Honestly, I thought we had nailed it. We were having open dialogue about the harms of pornography, activating parental controls on all of our devices and filtering our Wi-Fi. It was on a week-long visit to his grandparents that he found unfiltered access to pornography. For our son (age 13), it became an immediate obsession.

One night I woke up to find him standing over me in our room. In my half-sleep, I thought he’d had a nightmare and was needing comfort from mom and dad. In reality, he had used my fingerprint while I was asleep to unlock my phone to access porn. He had done it successfully once but the screen timed out. It was only on the second attempt that I was awakened.” — Macey

Don’t ignore unusual behavior

“I kept his phone at night and checked it regularly. All our devices were set with passcodes. Plus, I was never shy of talking to my kids about pornography. I had even explained to them about child pornography and that it was abuse. Looking back, I now recognize a few vague clues that he was using pornography.

For example, he spent too much time in the bathroom with his phone. And there was one night he freaked out just as I was about to check his phone. He threw a total fit, punching a hole in the wall. We got so distracted by his outburst and subsequent trip to the ER that I forgot to check the phone. If I had, I think I would have found the files sooner.  

I feel terribly guilty. I often wonder if I could have done something differently. But I don’t have an answer that makes sense.” — Ruth

Face the issue straight on

“I wish I had realized the kind of media that was really coming into our home through various sources. It’s definitely tougher to filter content coming at our kids than it should be. So along with filtering, I think parents should face the issues straight on. This is not something I would ever hesitate to talk about with kids.” — Josh

There is so much more to this story

As I said, we only have time to scratch the surface of these powerful stories. If you’ve stuck with us this far … thank you! By learning from the experiences of these beautiful families you are more prepared to initiate change in your family and community.

We will hear more of their stories in Part 2 and Part 3 of the series. For now, know that all of these young people have grown stronger in their fight to overcome pornography because of the support they receive from their parents. They are great kids (some now grown with kids of their own).  Each has hopes, dreams, and exciting aspirations for their future.

Here are just two of the amazing experiences these families shared.

I have no thought of shame

“I remember my son calling me from the hospital when his first baby was born. His wife was resting and he was holding his brand new babe while we talked. He said, “Mom, this is my little girl. And I have no thought of shame in my head. I fought so long to free myself so I could be safe. And worthy to be the kind of father that could protect my kids.” — Toni

Seeing our whole family together

“One of our daughters got married a few months ago. She asked her brother to be a Master of Ceremonies at their reception. He went above and beyond in his role. He was so amazing and helpful. He might just be the best MC ever! Of course, the wedding was the highlight. But seeing our whole family together in that way was fantastic.” — Sharon

3 take-aways for parents

  1. Every child, every family is vulnerable to the porn trap. Harmful habits can form quickly. Sadly, kids are naturally inclined to keep dangerous habits a secret — especially when they know looking at inappropriate things online is wrong. Parents can do their best to create a safe zone where kids can share their challenges and get unconditional love and support. Children may or may not choose to reach out for help right away, but it will make a difference in the long run.
  2. Children are unique. Pornography can target individuals in different ways. Natural personality traits and mental health issues can become additional roadblocks on the path towards recovery. Parents are in the best position to take the whole child into account and look for the help they need.
  3. Parents and children usually have different timelines for when to tackle recovery in earnest. Ultimately, recovery must come from the individual struggling with the addictive habits. However, a parent’s love, support, and interest in their child’s recovery play a significant role in their child’s future success and ability to believe in themselves.

What’s coming in the rest of the series

A child’s pornography use affects everyone in the family in some way.  Part 2 will look at how parents learned to manage their own painful emotions and find their own recovery.

Wouldn’t you love to sit down with these parents and learn what advice they have for you and your family? Part 3 will offer practical advice from those who have walked this journey and what helped strengthen their relationship with their child.

Get more help!

We’ll send you our free SMART Plan Guide for Parents to prepare you to help your child heal from pornography exposure or use. Click the image below!

Can Mama Bears Make a Difference? 10 Fierce Women Who Defend Kids Online

Can Mama Bears Make a Difference? 10 Fierce Women Who Defend Kids Online

Moms all over the world are fighting tooth and nail to protect their kids from the threats technology poses today. From overuse of tech, to access to dangerous pornography and predators, there are so many opportunities for families to prepare to be safe and strong!

These moms, just like you, are doing what they can to influence their own homes and communities.

Meet a few of the awesome mothers making the world safer for kids!

Brittany Homer, Raising Today’s Kids

I am passionate about helping children and families succeed in our digital world! I’ve taught internet safety programs at schools, raised awareness about human trafficking, advocated for victims of sexual assault and more. This year I started the podcast Raising Today’s Kids and have also been lobbying for legislation in Montana to confront the public health crisis of pornography. Montana just became the 13th state to pass this resolution!

In the first episode of Raising Today’s Kids I share five moments in my life that led me to what I’m doing today:

  1. My first time in a chat room
  2. Meeting my friend’s young foster brother and wanting to help kids like him
  3. Dreaming about my daughter being molested
  4. Learning about the huge problem of human trafficking and how it’s being fueled by pornography
  5. Sitting in an orphanage in Haiti and feeling a huge hole where parents should have been

I believe in the power of love. Parents need to understand the issues their children face and have tools to address the issues. But most importantly, they need confidence that they are uniquely qualified to parent their children based on the love they have for their kids. When all else fails, just LOVE your kids!

Melissa McKay, Campaign to #fixappratings

For two years I’ve worked on Utah Legislation to protect children from pornography. Recently I started the #fixappratings campaign with several partners to push for more transparent and accurate app ratings and descriptions.

I have so many favorite moments being involved! As hard as this issue is, the people who work in this arena are amazing. Kristen Jenson (founder of Protect Young Minds) was my first mentor and continues to be one of my best supporters.

Protecting kids from porn is a two-part process. Talking to them about pornography, and having a warm and open relationship with them is the first key. I’ve been reading Good Pictures Bad Pictures with my kids for years.

The second part is doing your best to minimize access. Because children don’t have fully developed brains, they need protection. Taking time to educate yourself about apps, filters, and other parental controls is so critical.

Heather Cowan, White Ribbon Week

13 years ago I realized a loved one had a pornography addiction. Even though my young daughter was just a toddler, I knew I wanted to help empower children to avoid such pain.

When I discovered White Ribbon Week, which teaches children ages 5-12 to use tech in safe, productive ways, I knew that’s how I could help! I plan it at my local elementary school each year. I also help newbie facilitators get their program up and running at their school.

It is one thing to empower your own children, but then to take that further and help out your neighbors and entire school in a fun, easy, positive way is the BEST!

How can moms raise porn-proof kids? Talk Talk Talk! There is power in sharing your stories and helping children realize that everyone sees inappropriate material – and know what to do when they see it. Technology is not going away. We need to teach kids how to navigate it! We can’t be scared of this tech, but keep open, honest conversations going.

In order to keep kids busy, happy, and healthy, I’ve started a new kids summer camp called Kids Go For Gold!

Related: How a Mama Bear is Winning Against the Porn Industry

Eva Gordon, New Social Work Graduate

I was so naive about the harms of porn. I learned about it the hard and painful way. My spouse had an addiction to porn which destroyed our marriage. I learned I needed to work my own recovery to heal from betrayal trauma.

I am so passionate about the recovery and healing process that I went back to school and earned a masters in social work to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). I just graduated on May 1st, 2019!

I take every opportunity to teach parents about the dangers of pornography – preventive tools as well as recovery tools. I have presented at schools, church, and community events such as the Utah Coalition Against Pornography Conference.

This idea is not new, but it is so important: TALK to your kids. Have a plan and role-play the situation of when your kids will see pornography. Check in often and ask “When was the last time you saw or looked at porn”? and then process with them how they felt and what they did; help them feel comfortable talking about it. As normal as asking them “Did you brush your teeth?”

As I found healing in 12-step recovery meetings, I learned to recognize that when my life is unmanageable, there is a higher power that can manage it if I let Him. I allow him to take my fear, pain, anger, frustration, sadness and whatever I might be feeling. I model this process to my kids, and even though they are young they have experienced God’s healing power as we surrender together.

Recently my son was feeling really angry and sad which he expressed with mean comments towards me. I shared with him what I do when I feel angry and sad. I write my feelings down and then call my friend (sponsor) and share my feelings. Then I pray to God and give it to Him. I asked my son “Do you believe He can take those feelings from you?” He said he did. I prayed for both of us since I was also feeling upset and heartbroken to see him in pain. After the prayer, I felt so much love, peace, and serenity. My son was much calmer and willing to follow instructions without resistance.

This is one of many similar experiences I have had with each of my kids. I am not a perfect mom, but recovery has extended to them as I model recovery tools for them.

Mandy Majors, nextTalk

Six years ago, my daughter asked me a highly sexualized question. I didn’t know “this thing” existed until I was a 19-year-old college student. She was nine. In the fourth grade. And, she did not have a phone.

Another child had watched a pornographic video at home and shared the graphic details with her at school.

That was my lightbulb moment that parenting had changed. We’re in new territory. My plan to not give her a phone until she was in high school did not keep her safe. So, I embarked on a journey to find real solutions.

That led me to write an award-winning book called TALK: A Practical Approach to Cyberparenting and Open Communication. I also founded nextTalk, a nonprofit organization helping families build a culture of conversation to keep kids safe in the digital world, and we host the nextTalk Radio Show.

Restrictions and monitoring tools are helpful. But they all have loopholes. Delaying the phone is good, but we can’t delay the conversations. I’ve found a solution that works and has changed our family. It is OPEN COMMUNICATION.

It sounds so simple, but it actually takes years to build the kind of trust and safety families need today.

Melody Bergman, Media Savvy Moms

Like all mamas, I wear many hats. I am co-host of the Media Savvy Moms Podcast, blogger at MamaCrossroads, and an instructor at Defend Yourself Virginia. All these avenues help me teach parents (and kids) how to stay safe online–and in real life too!

In a way, I spent many years as the “Batman” of porn and parenting: Mommy by day and Porn-Fighter by night. In the wake of a shattered marriage due to pornography and sex addiction, I launched into a private journey of healing and anonymous blogging.

After a life filled with trauma and heartache, including childhood sexual abuse, addiction, porn, divorce, single parenting (you name it, I’ve been there), I have an unquenchable desire to tell others: There is hope! You are not alone! We can make it through this!

On the Media Savvy Moms Podcast, we teach parents to “Give your kids a construction site.” This “construction site” is a safe place where we can talk with our kids about anything under the sun. We can throw out ideas, dig deep, bring out heavy equipment, demolish stuff–even bust out the dynamite if needed. Nothing is off limits!

Here are 3 tips to help your “construction site” succeed:

  1. Build a foundation of trust. Concentrate on your relationship first.
  2. Make your child the foreman. Let them ask the questions and decide where the discussion will go next.
  3. Keep on truckin’. The “porn talk” is not a one-and-done conversation. Follow up over and over again.

Be brave. You can do this!

Related: Love Kills Porn! Advice from a Mom Who Cares for One Million Kids

Andrea Davis, Better Screen Time

My husband, Tyler, and I share positive screen time strategies to help parents worry less and connect more with their kids at betterscreentime.com.

It seemed fairly simple to keep technology in check when my oldest kids were young. I didn’t have a smartphone or social media. We kept our TV in the closet, (actually we still do!). We didn’t have Netflix or Amazon Prime.

Then mobile devices and subscription services quickly became mainstream. We gradually adopted some of these things, and now we had five growing kids, including a teenager! I felt lost and confused. How could we hold onto our family culture and still benefit from technology? How could we teach our children to use tech wisely as they grew older?

We talked to other parents and did our research, and began sharing what we learned as we experimented.

In Good Pictures, Bad Pictures, Kristen Jenson shares a fantastic acronym to help kids know what to do when they are exposed to pornography (CAN DO). My husband and I decided to go one step further and help our kids create their own acronym. They decided they wanted to fight a WAR against pornography and when exposed, they will:

  • W = walk away (immediately get out of the situation)
  • A = Alert (tell someone)
  • R = Relax (find another activity to do)

When we involve our kids in the discussion, they are much more likely to retain the ideas we are teaching them!

Kristen Jenson, author of Good Pictures Bad Pictures read-aloud books

I never planned to grow up and write a children’s book about pornography! For me, it was a mother’s tragic story about her 17-year-old son who had sexually molested his younger brothers and sisters that got me started down this road.

The more I discovered how pornography is creating a secret epidemic of addiction and sexual abuse, the more compelled I felt that children needed to be warned. No child deserves to face the porn industry alone! That’s when I started writing the Good Pictures Bad Pictures read-aloud books and founded Protect Young Minds.

Mama bears can be loving guides who go ahead of their children and make sure the trail is safe. That means scouting out where their kids want to go – games, apps, and physical places – to see what dangers are lurking. Then teach kids to stay on the trail and monitor how well they are doing.

So 1) establish yourself as a loving “trail guide”, 2) check out all the places, digital and physical, where your children want to go to learn and play; 3) establish trail rules and boundaries; and 4) provide feedback–acknowledge when your kids follow the rules, provide consequences when they don’t.

That, my dear mamas, is about 30 years of prevention science research in a nutshell!

“Have you wanted to talk to your kids about pornography, but didn’t know what to say?! I’ve felt that way for quite some time and finally found a solution – Good Pictures Bad Pictures. . . I highly recommend this book to all people with children. A must have for all parents!” – Amazon Review. CLICK HERE to learn more about Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids.

Dina Alexander, Educate Empower Kids

I started Educate and Empower Kids (EEK) after reading about the effects of porn and negative media on kids. As I thought of my kids growing up without the opportunity to be married to a partner who hasn’t been “educated” by porn, it felt like there was a fire inside me. I knew I had to speak to as many parents as possible. I wanted parents to understand the very real hazards of consuming porn, but I also wanted them to have confidence talking about porn, sex, social media, and other topics related to the digital age.

At EEK, we strengthen families living in the digital age. We offer books and other resources that help parents educate their kids about the dangers of pornography, the benefits of healthy sexual intimacy, using technology for good, and how to deconstruct the media that is all around them. In our latest book, Conversations with My Kids: 30 Essential Family Discussions for the Digital Age we help parents have 30 amazing, timely discussions on social media, changing technologies, LGBTQI issues, integrity, and more.

What’s been most rewarding is the countless people who have thanked us for making these talks simple and doable. How they felt scared, but then realized that they could easily do this. And that is what I want most for parents: to know that they absolutely can talk about anything the world throws at them!

You don’t need to be an expert. Be positive and loving. Let your kids know that you want to talk to them about these important topics because you love and care about them. Your love is what you want them to remember most about these talks!

Related: Police Mom Reveals Secret Weapon to Protect Kids from Porn

Vauna Davis, Protect Young Minds & Reach 10

We raised our kids during the dawn of home internet, so of course, our kids were exposed to things we weren’t prepared for! I saw that families needed more help navigating the challenges of online pornography. I first got involved as director of Utah Coalition Against Pornography. I founded a nonprofit that serves young adults called Reach 10, where we are building a culture of courage, compassion, and connection to overcome the shame, silence and fear that keep people stuck in pornography. I also get to work with Protect Young Minds, and serve as chair for The Safeguard Alliance, a national prevention group.

Here’s a simple tip to strengthen your kids! When a friend wants to show them a video, photo, movie or anything else on a screen, teach kids to ask before they look, “What do you want to show me?” This gives your child a chance to decide if it seems like a safe idea to look, and also lets the friend know that your child has boundaries.

Mothers have a powerful influence

It’s an old saying, but still true, that the hand that rocks the cradle Is the hand that rules the world. Whether or not we take action in public, we are all shaping the lives of our children with our love, and they will create the future world. The impact of mothers is incredible!

Get your free Talk Today, Safer Tomorrow guide to 10 Easy Conversation Starters to begin talking to your kids about staying safe from pornography! Click the image below.

Parent Alert! Now Parents Are Making Porn for Their Kids?!

Parent Alert! Now Parents Are Making Porn for Their Kids?!

“Mums Make Porn” – British Reality TV Shocker

Try to wrap your mind around this one.

A group of five presumably well-meaning moms in the UK are disgusted by the violence they discover when researching the porn film industry.

They are rightly concerned about how easy it is for children to access porn and its twisted messages.

So, the moms resolve to come up with a solution. Their idea?

Create “ethical porn” for kids.

In other words, produce porn in a way that will educate young people about what consensual and “healthy” sexual relationships look like.

The result of this crazy and twisted logic? A three-part documentary called Mums Make Porn that aired on Channel 4. The last episode features the moms showing their 12-minute porn film to their family, friends, and industry professionals! Including their own children.

One of the moms dropped out of the project early on, admitting that while she supported the concept, she didn’t want to be known as a porn producer.

Fortunately, many reasonable people do see how bizarre and unsound this phenomenon is:

“Using porn to promote ‘healthy attitudes toward sex’ doesn’t seem like much of a solution, let alone even possible in the first place.” Tré Goins-Phillips, Faithwire

What can we take away from this?

  • Don’t assume that you are on the “same page” with other parents when it comes to porn. I personally talked to one mom who gave her son videos on how to masturbate so that he would know how to “do it properly.” He was about nine years old at the time! This came up during a conversation about when and how to introduce sex education. Make sure you get to know the parents of your kids’ friends.
  • Start the conversations with your children early and often. The mom who dropped out of the porn project early on wrote: “Due to my cultural background, I had found it impossible to talk to my teenage daughter about sex. Sex was a taboo subject when I was growing up.” No matter what our own experience was, we can start a new, healthier conversation in our families.
  • Know why porn is bad and be able to communicate that. Half the battle is fighting against such destructive ideas in our culture. The other half is protecting your children from these harmful ideas. We’ve got some great resources to help you with both.

“Strong and Thriving Families” – National Child Abuse Prevention Month

What a great theme for the 2019 National Child Abuse Prevention Month! One full of hope and promise as we move into the spring season.

The initiative promotes awareness of child abuse in all forms – emotional, physical, verbal, and sexual. Communities commit to building stronger and safer environments for children.

April is a great month to consider what proactive steps you will take to help your family be strong and thrive in all situations.

Some tips to consider:

  • Take this free online parent course from Prevent Child Abuse Utah. It only takes 30 minutes! Make the promise to protect.
  • Does your child’s church, sports team, or other organization practice the Rule of Two? This means minimal or no one-on-one contact between a child and adult volunteer, coach, or helper. If travel is involved, make sure you know how children will be supervised. As well, no coach or adult volunteer should be contacting your minor child on social media privately!
  • Do you know who your child is talking to online? Look through their friend lists on social media, their cell phones, and other devices. Ask about any people you don’t recognize, especially if they appear to be new contacts. Teach them to block and/or unfriend followers they don’t know or are uncomfortable with.
  • Model how technology should be used. If our kids are going to use digital media responsibly, then we need to show them how to do that. Let your kids see you disconnect from screens and talk through your own decisions to manage technology. Invest in non-digital family time during dinner to reconnect as a family. Have fun together playing board games, going on hikes, or volunteering as a family.

“As a Nation, we must do everything within our power to stop child abuse and neglect before they occur. The best defense against these menaces is a strong family led by loving and caring parents.” Proclamation on National Child Abuse Prevention Month, 2019

“Have you wanted to talk to your kids about pornography, but didn’t know what to say?! I’ve felt that way for quite some time and finally found a solution – Good Pictures Bad Pictures. . . I highly recommend this book to all people with children. A must have for all parents!” – Amazon Review. CLICK HERE to learn more about Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids.

YouTube: The Problem That Keeps on Growing

We’ve kept you up-to-date on YouTube’s porn and pedophile problem in previous posts.

There’s still much more to add to this conversation.

For one thing, as parents, we can’t ignore YouTube. It’s simply become a large part of nearly all kids’ media consumption.

YouTube has made numerous promises to consumers groups and parents over the years to scrub the illegal and unethical content. But kids continue to see violent imagery, sexually suggestive cartoons, drug references and other inappropriate videos. The Washington Post is just one of many sources revealing the troubling content that parents worry about.

Last month, the disturbing Momo videos stressed many parents out as they scrambled to sort out the truth from fiction in this viral challenge.

James Steyer, Chief Executive of Common Sense Media sums up perfectly the parental dilemma with YouTube:

“YouTube is the biggest pain point for parents today … Kids just stumble into completely inappropriate content constantly because it’s algorithmically driven.”

Has the problem become too large for YouTube to handle through their own policy and technology controls?

Leonore Reiser, a mother from Oakland was shocked to find that her nine-year-old son’s YouTube viewing history had sexually explicit content. She realized that he had looked through YouTube unattended at one point, had searched for a profanity, and then received explicit “recommended videos” as a result.

Her conclusion?

“Because of all the creepy, weird stuff he’s finding, we’re actually watching YouTube less. I deleted it from the TV, and I’m deleting it from my iPhone.”

So what’s the answer for keeping kids safe in a YouTube world?

For some parents, deleting the app for a while, or longer, may be the solution in their families – especially for those with younger children..

For everyone, vigilance is key. Strengthen and monitor your family rules for YouTube. And above all, help your kids build their “internal filter” and practice what to do when they see bad content. This may be the biggest line of defense that we can give them!

Get your free guide to 3 Simple Definitions of Pornography Kids Can Understand! Click the image below.