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12 Ways Pornography Leaks into Your Home (and How to Stop It)

A few weeks ago, my wife and I took our two young kids to a neighborhood party. When we arrived, we scouted the food, grabbed something tasty, and made our way over to a couple of neighbors we recognized from the ward.

After talking for a while, somehow the conversation turned to our kids and the schools in our area. Since our son is getting ready to enter the public education system, we discussed local preschools, favorite teachers, and the general atmosphere at the elementary school.

And that's when it happened.

Our neighbor (and fellow ward-member) told us the story of how her young boy (he's only in the second grade) was exposed to pornography.

Pornography… in the second grade.

My entire world stopped.

I looked over at my son and daughter. Two of the most precious people in my life. My thoughts raced. How was I going to protect them? How could I keep them from being exposed to such disgusting filth at such a young age? How could I keep them innocent for as long as possible?

As I've had a few weeks to recover from the initial shock of the moment, I realize it's impossible to put my children in a bubble and protect them from everything bad in the world (even though I plan to try my hardest for as long as I can).

But I can make a plan to keep pornography out of my home.

As Sister Reeves reminded us last conference:

"Pornography is more vile, evil, and graphic than ever before. As we counsel with our children, togetherwe can create a family plan with standards and boundaries, being proactive to protect our homes withfilters on electronic devices."

In this article, you'll find 12 ways pornography may be leaking into your home without you even knowing it. We've also included a few recommendations on how to fix any leak that may be causing spiritual damage to your family.

1. Mobile Devices

One of the most common culprits of bringing pornography into your home undetected is through mobile devices. While many families have web filters installed on their home computers, filtering software for tablets and phones is much less common.

How to fix the leak:

Instead of using web filters that are only installed on your family computer, try installing filters at the entry-point into your home. A quick google search will reward you with thousands of options for routers (filtering any and all internet devices in your home) and other similar options. If your family uses Apple devices, be sure to check out this article about how to set up parental controls on iPhones, iPads, and other Apple devices

2. YouTube Ads and Related Videos

Even though Google (the owner of YouTube) has recently announced they will no longer allow pornographic ads on their ad services, we've yet to discover what they deem "pornographic." Much of the time, even the related videos in the sidebar on YouTube.com can get a little dicey.

How to fix the leak:

There are lots of options for removing related videos on YouTube. One widely accepted option (10 million+ users) is AdBlock Pluswhich not only turns off related videos, but also filters out ads and other content that may be questionable.

3. Shopping Catalogs

Believe it or not, direct mailers landing in your physical mail box can be a common (if less obvious) way for family members to get access to pornography. Although the content in a shopping catalog may not be deemed "explicit," it can be a gateway to more hardcore pornography.

How to fix the leak:

Try using an anti-spam service like 41pounds.org for your physical mailbox. There are a handful of services out there that will actually help you unsubscribe from physical mailing services. Most of these services are marketed under the premise of saving the environment, but they can be used to protect your family from pornography as well.

4. Previews & Deleted Scenes in Your DVD collection

Have you ever noticed that little disclaimer at the beginning of your DVDs? It reads something like this: "bonus features and deleted scenes, not rated."

That's right. Just because your teen is watching a movie rated PG or PG-13 by the MPAA doesn't mean the additional content found on the same disc isn't potentially R-rated or worse.

How to fix the leak:

Filtering DVD content has been a hard-to-reach goal for anti-pornography organizations for years. While some have made incredible strides in filtering and editing content on a DVD, they face a major challenge: the film industry holds copyright to films which gives them the "exclusive rights" to alter their own movies.

So what should we do until Hollywood and filtering DVD players can find middle ground? Try tossing out your bonus features discs (most people don't use them anyway) and teaching your children about the dangers of unrated bonus content.

5. Netflix, Hulu+, etc. accounts

We don't have cable anymore at my house. Which means we avoid a lot of filth on cable and satellite TV. But it also means that we have signed up for Netflix, Hulu+, and Amazon Prime which potentially bring a lot of filth back into our home. Plus the addition of technology like AppleTV, Google Chromecast, and Amazon FireTV (all of which allow you to stream content from the web right to your TV) make it all-too-easy to watch something you shouldn't.

How to fix the leak:

The first option is easy: unsubscribe to these services. If it's not available, then your family can't watch it (accidentally or on purpose). If you want to still use services like Netflix or Hulu+, look into their filters and kid-friendly channels.Hulu has parental controls and so does Netflix. Take the extra time to set up filters and controls to keep your family safe.

6. TV Commercials

Watching primetime television can be a risky proposition. Even when the content is family friendly, the advertisements that show up every 7-10 minutes can pose a threat of unintentional exposure to content you simply don't want in your home.

How to fix the leak:

Again, there are a couple of options. First, you could simply not watch television. But a more realistic approach would be to turn the TV off or change the channel during commercial breaks, or avoid watching shows on live TV in the first place. Using a service like TiVo to pre-record shows and skip commercials lets you control what you watch. Alternatively, you could watch shows online assuming you've applied other precautions from tips 2 & 5 in this article.

7. Kids' friends and schoolmates

Now we get into difficult territory: friends. What do you do when one of your child's schoolmates exposes your son or daughter to pornography? You can't simply buy a friend filter. You can't just lock up your child (even if you want to sometimes) and keep them away from those kids. 

How to fix the leak:

With the growing ease with which kids can share content with each other (think social media, texting, and other mobile apps mentioned in #12), there's a greater need than ever to teach your children correct principles about making friends, standing up for what's right, and having the courage to walk away from a bad situation (even when "walking away" means closing a browser window).

8. Mobile Game Ads

I'm not a big mobile gamer. But I've admittedly played my share of Angry Birds, 2048, Candy Crush and the like. I'm appalled by some of the ads that pop up on my game. In what world does an ad with a half-dressed woman (cartoon or otherwise) make sense on a game for kids? 

How to fix the leak:

Aside from ad-blockers (there are mobile versions of the software mentioned in tip #2), another great way to reduce the chance of seeing ads during games is to put your mobile phone in airplane mode. This cuts off access to the internet (which most ads need in order to load properly) and allows you (or your kids) to play games without inappropriate interruptions.

9. Music and Album Art

Pandora, Grooveshark, Spotify, and the never-ending list of music apps are a great way for you and your family to discover and enjoy new music. But what happens when discovering new music goes sour? Depending on your listening habits, you may eventually find yourself with inappropriate artwork or lyrics showing up on your screen without asking for it.

How to fix the leak:

Be vigilant when it comes to telling services like Pandora what you do and do notlike in terms of music and lyrics. Adjust your user settings. Click the "thumbs down" button when inappropriate music comes on. These kinds of measures will reduce the risk of being exposed to the wrong kind of music.

10. Video games

Even video games that seem harmless may have dangerous or inappropriate content inside. Racing games are notorious for animations of scantily clad women. Fantasy/Sci-Fi games may portray sexual activity. Regardless of the genre, it's important to be careful which games we allow in our homes.

How to fix the leak:

First, be smart about which games you let your children play. Use the ESRB rating system ("E for Everyone," "T for Teen," etc.), but be sure to use it wisely. Even a Teen rating on a game may not be suitable for teens in your home as they "May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language." Even the "E 10+" rating (ok for everyone older than 10) mentions there may be "minimal suggestive themes."

Additionally, sit down and play the games with your kids, or at least watch them play and make sure the game complies with your family standards.

11. Books

With all the talk of technology, mobile apps, YouTube videos, and online streaming, it can be easy for us to forget about one of the oldest culprits of leaking pornography into our homes: books.

Mostly, books are meant to be cherished. Reading should be encouraged. What parent wouldn't rather see their kid cuddled up on the couch with a quality book than playing games on their phone or gaming console? But now and again, books may contain material that's simply not appropriate for your family.

How to fix the leak:

Avoid and teach your family to avoid novels with questionable artwork on the cover. Take time to read reviews for books your children are interested in before buying the book or checking it out from the library. Teach your children what to do if they start reading something they feel uncomfortable with. Remember, just because there are no pictures doesn't mean something can't be pornographic in nature.

12. Apps like SnapChat, Gaggle, and more

A few weeks ago, we covered "7 Risky Apps All Parents Should Know About." The list of dangerous apps is always growing and changing and it's important to know what your family is using on their mobile devices, why, and how often.

How to fix the leak:

Encourage your kids to be open and honest with you about what apps they use on their phones or tablets. Have a "no secret password" policy in your family where your family members either forego the use of passwords on their devices or share their passwords with you, the parent.

From time to time, take an inventory of which apps your family members have downloaded, what they seem to spend most time on, and what the purpose or content of the app entails. If necessary, use a service like KytePhone which allows you to set time limits, block calls from strangers, and more.

A HUGE disclaimer

At the end of the day, there's no perfect way to protect our families from the growing pornographic content found on the internet and through all the channels listed in this article.

The most important thing you can do is to teach your family important values and gospel principles they can use to make smart decisions. As Sister Reeves taught in her conference address, "The greatest filter in the world, the only one that will ultimately work, is the personal internal filter that comes from a deep and abiding testimony of our Heavenly Father's love and our Savior's atoning sacrifice for each one of us."

I'm sad that my son will most likely (according to statistics) be exposed to pornography before he's even old enough to pass the Sacrament. At times, I'm angry that we live in a world where I have to fend off evil content and actively work to keep it out of my home.

I am, however, confident that as families (mine included) work hard to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ, love each other, and make their home a place where the Spirit of the Lord can dwell, our Heavenly Father will bless us and protect us from the evils of the world.

If we do our part, I am certain He will do His.

Additionally, the following resources may be able to help you protect your family from pornography

15786The Trap: A Story to Protect Children from Pornography

If children are old enough to know how to turn on the computer, it's not too early to teach them about the dangers of pornography. This illustrated book is a valuable resource to help parents teach their children about the destructive nature of pornography, the sacredness of our bodies, and the love the Lord has for His children.

LEARN MORE »

15787The Guardians of Innocence

Protect your children from pornography by following the suggestions in this innovative and timely guide. Using research from experts and plainly describing pornography's effects, Mary Muller provides you with powerful tools to avoid, prevent, and recover from pornography addiction. Help your family members to carefully navigate the Internet and to wisely use cell phones and other media devices, making your home a haven for all.

LEARN MORE »

15788What Can I Do About Me?

Both heartbreaking and heartwarming, this book tells the life story of a headstrong mother of 7 children, Rhyll Croshaw, and her personal struggles due to the trauma of her husband’s pornography and sexual addiction. She tells of the choices she made, both mistakes and successes, along this journey, and comes out on the other end not only alive, but a stronger, healthier person with more joy and peace in her life than she could have ever imagined.

LEARN MORE »

15789Understanding Pornography and Sexual Addiction

Internet pornography is a stealth attack on our homes and families through invisibly transmitted electrons. Education about the addictive, destructive nature of this attack is paramount, and hence this manual. We must address prevention and recovery with the same tenacity the pornography industry has employed to invade our homes and our lives. Only then can we turn the tide and begin to win this war.

LEARN MORE »

15790What's the Big Deal About Pornography?: A Guide for the Internet Generation

Dr. Manning speaks directly to the young people she calls the “internet generation.” She discusses such topics as: What is pornography? How does pornography affect people? Can pornography teach me things about sexuality that I need to know in the future? What do I do if I can't stop looking at pornography? What do I do if someone I know can't stop looking at pornography? And more.

LEARN MORE »