Parenting in a sexualized culture
When Anneka Doe (name changed) confiscated her 13-year-old son’s phone as punishment for failing a school test, she was shocked to find multiple nude photos of older women and pornographic videos.
Her son, a mild-mannered child, eventually admitted that his friends and older teammates sent him the sexual content through, Snapchat app, which allows users to upload photos and videos and send to friends. Friends then have a short timeframe to view the content.
Doe, a Christian, said initially she was unsure how to punish her child for the newest discovery. However, she said she and her husband later talked to their son about sex and how to use technology responsibly. She admitted that she should have broached the subject earlier, given her son’s obsession with technology.
Doe said after her son told her Snapchat is commonly used to send sexually explicit photos, she gave herself a crash course in popular social media platforms for teens.
Kingdom Life Church Senior Pastor Cedric Moss said with today’s sexual realities and digital dangers, it is incumbent on parents to be vigilant.
“I would say that what happened with [Doe] is not unusual,” he said yesterday.
“I’m a pastor and over the years I’ve heard parents who said similar things. And it’s not just cell phone apps, the menu of pornography on cable is right there and many parents don’t know because they don’t look, and of course the internet is wide open.”
With so many digital platforms and interactive apps, it can become difficult for parents to keep a handle on everything. But Pastor Moss, who along with Lincoln Hanlan, an electronics and technology professional, insists that there are ways to successfully monitor and control your children’s digital footprint.
For parents who may need help navigating the digital world themselves, Moss and Hanlan will host a biblical seminar on Saturday – ‘Parenting in a Digital and Sexual World’.
When asked what parents should do when they find themselves in situations similar to Doe, Moss said that would depend on whether the child was previously educated and warned about such behavior.
“For a parent who would have instructed a child, and those boundaries have been breached then you discipline a child,” he said.
“If the conversation never came up, the parents should talk to the child about sex. When that happens, parents know my child has been exposed. So, you want to try and walk that back. I don’t care if the parent is shacking up, the parent should say that sex is for marriage and help the child to understand that pornography is not a form of healthy sexuality. You want them to know that sex is a good thing, but it is only good when enjoyed in boundaries that God gave it to us.”
Speaking more generally, Moss said he has found that parents are less engaged in their children’s lives.
“It can’t be denied that parents are busier today, more distracted today than they were 10 years ago,” said Moss who also addressed the issue on Guardian Radio show ‘Morning Blend’ with host Dwight Strachan.
“And yet so many of them are not engaging in parenting as they should and as many of us were raised by our parents. Although the world is more dangerous in terms of content that our children can see [and] the values that are being promoted out there… parents are less engaged and I believe it is because of being busy, being distracted and I think a lot of parents are using toys and tools… to fill the vacuum of their non-attention.”
He said by giving their children additional electronics instead of spending time with them, parents are actually increasing the dangers that their children face.
“We believe it is important to create an awareness for a lot of parents of these dangers,” Moss continued. “Some parents are aware of these dangers but are just kind of hoping and praying for the best. And so, we want to talk about these dangers and suggest ways that they can mitigate against them.”
Hanlan noted that there are various tools parents can use to control which websites their children are able to access from their cell phones and tablets.
He said it’s also important for parents to teach their kids how to use technology responsibly.
Hanlan said simply taking away devices from children will not address the issue.
“It’s a balance because in order to be a 21st century [citizen], you need the technology,” he said. “But you will have [to] strike the right balance.”
He said in the same way some businesses prevent their employees from accessing certain sites, parents should exercise similar control.
Moss added that children can also be exposed to and influenced by “unnatural” sexual experiences through various websites. He said this can also impact the child’s sexual orientation.
“The concern I have is that many parents who don’t hold the values and convictions of this sexual revolution are allowing their children to be influenced by it and not having the benefit of engaged parenting,” he said.
“But those who believe its okay to have a child with a penis, saying I’m a woman, that’s fine if they want to do that.”
The free seminar will take place on Saturday between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. at Kingdom Life Church on Chesapeake Road.
The topics will include, Parenting and Today’s Sexual Realities, Parenting and Today’s Sexual Dangers, Parental Controls in a Digital World and Parenting and Sex Education.
Those interested in registering can visit: http://www.kingdom-life.org/parenting-seminar or call the church at 393-8262.
Free continental breakfast will be served.
Moss will also deliver a sermon on the unchanging rules of parenting on Sunday morning.
Education: Benedict College, BA in Mass Communications