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Challenge: Back to School 2020

Online School, Social Media, and Screen Time, Oh My!

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Many of us are home with our kids because of COVID. Our routines have been turned upside down and our comfort zone has been invaded.

Screen time is a hot topic, as many parents try to navigate the waters of online school, gaming, social media, and the various entertainment outlets found online. Most of our kiddos have ramped up the amount of time they spend staring at a computer, phone or other device. And some of us are anxious about the ramifications all this screen time is having on our kids and their brains.

My household had its world turned upside down several years ago when we discovered one of our children was struggling with pornography. It was eye-opening and devastating. Since that time, I have spent countless hours researching the dangers of pornography and its long-term effects. They are far-reaching. More and more children are being exposed to pornography at an earlier and earlier age, many times accidentally. It’s a concern parents can no longer ignore.

So, one of the biggest questions on my mind during this pandemic has been: Will all these changes cause my child to turn to pornography? Maybe you, too, are worried about your child using pornography or unintentionally seeing it. It’s a legitimate concern.

Let me remind you, you are an intricate and vital part of your child’s health and well-being.

I don’t know how your day-to-day life has changed, but I do know it’s different than it was last fall. Keeping up these changes can be exhausting, and sometimes depressing. Trying to keep up with our kiddos – helping them stay busy and keep out of trouble is a full-time job.

Here are a few things you can do to help ease the burden and possibly prevent your child from a pornography problem.

  • If you don’t have filters on your devices, add them now. You cannot stand over their shoulder watching what they are doing 24 hours a day. A filter gives them boundaries you cannot give.
  • Ask them to use their computers and other devices in an open space (not in their room with the door closed) in your home.
  • Check in with them. Periodically have a heart-to-heart. It doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out conversation. My son and I talk in code. He knows when I am asking specifically about his addiction. I don’t have to spell it out. This is important because your child needs to know you care.
  • Use this time to build relationships. This is an excellent opportunity to bond. Play a family game. Watch a movie together. Go for walks or bike rides. Read a book together. Cook together. Eat supper together. Do a family devotion. Put a puzzle together. Use those moments to reminisce. Try to create moments of laughter. This builds trust and will pay dividends later.
  • Watch and listen. Typical pre-teens and teens don’t run to their parents when they are having problems. It’s up to us to pay attention. Look and listen for clues that something is off. Be willing to stop what you are doing and give your child the attention they need and want at the time they are ready to interact.
  • Allow them to express themselves. Don’t be quick to try and fix it. It’s okay for our children to be upset. Let them tell you how they feel. Ask them what they think the solution to boredom/depression/loneliness/temptation should be. Allow them the opportunity to come up with ideas.
  • Pray. Seek God’s wisdom on how to parent your child(ren).

I want to support you in your efforts to parent at this time. Parenting has always been a difficult job, but it has hit a new level of difficulty. Let me reassure you. Persevere. You’ve got this. Your child(ren) is worth it!

Let’s continue these difficult conversations. What are you doing differently right now that seems to be working? What can you add to the above list? How can I help you? Connect with me at Difficult Conversations: a hopeful mom on her teenage son’s freedom from porn or at my Facebook page.


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