Freedom from sin

My wife has been attending a parenting class at the local college (she is good that way). The class is generally filled with mothers of children ages 2-17 and she always comes home with interesting stories. Recently, one of the parents described how her son went on a sleepover where the kids stayed up all night using a neighbor’s wifi to look at pr0n. One of the other mothers described how they had purchased a hardware filter/firewall which they use to control internet usage in the house. My wife thought that was a good idea and brought it up with me. My response: not so much.

The conversation that ensued was an interesting one, and one in which I learned a lot about myself. You see, I grew up without internet. I liked video games and playing with computers, but I was not nearly hardcore enough to be on the net. I came home from a mission in 1997 though, and the world had changed. Internet was everywhere.

I was also a fairly forward looking student. I spent about half of my undergraduate studies living thousands of miles away from campus working in internships. I had my own apartments, where I lived alone. I also had the internet. I talked to my wife about how you can fulfill any desire for information with the internet, including images and video of sexually explicit material. She was aware of this. But with her background, I don’t think she realized what that meant as a parent of boys. Because I never had the internet growing up, I had to develop the skills to avoid pornography as a 21 year old guy living by himself. My whole generation and those that came earlier had to negotiate that transition. Based on the Church’s current rhetoric, the success of those negotiations has trended toward miserable.

If you wanted to look at sexually explicit images pre-internet, you generally had to interact with other people to acquire them. That was a sufficient barrier for many people, I think. But the barriers of entry today, are essentially non-existent. Knowing that at some point, my two sons will have unlimited access to information, my current desire is to equip them with the tools to manage such freedom.

My wife and I are still trying to figure out how to best teach our children. We haven’t made any formal decisions. For now, however, I am not so hip to the idea of locking our house down and preventing any objectionable thing from entering via fiber optic. I knew too many kids in college who when they finally left their parents’ governorship, went completely off the deep end. I want my kids to be able to manage freedom, because they will at some point have it. If they can’t manage it, then we all will have failed.

So for now, we have router logs that we could check and we will certainly inform our children that we will check them (they are fairly young yet). We have positive and educational conversations about sex and sexuality. And we pray a lot. To be like God, is to be good with perfect freedom. Now how do you become like God?


  1. You are a very wise man, JS.

  2. J., I agree that you can’t stop the information. There are zero barriers and even if you locked your house down you wouldn’t keep your kids from objectionable materials. Your approach is laudable.

    BUT —

    if you are dealing with someone with an existing habit, your approach would not work as a starting point. That’s not the point of your post, but let’s not confuse pedagogical methods for instilling healthy sexuality in children with how we should react to already-present problem behaviors.

  3. Also my feelings, as well. For better or worse, my assumption has always been that my kids would eventually have to be able to make good choices on their own. We learned while we could certainly hold many temptations at arms length, too many others could find other ways to get my kids attention. We do them no favors by not helping them learn to make good choices, and suffer the consequences of the occasional bad choice.

  4. Steve, I thought about that as well. Someone who has already shown themselves to be more susceptible or with an existing issue needs to be handled differently.

    But ultimately, no TV or computers in a bedroom, only in the public areas of the house.

  5. Matt W. says:

    I’m for the Hardware filter/Firewall, but more to protect my machine from getting owned by hackers who will then use it as a file share for such undesirable content.

    On the other hand,My 5 year old discovered that one of the top image hits for “Dora” in google images is a topless woman. nice…

  6. Scott B says:

    My mother utterly refused to allow chocolate cereal in our home. The very first trip I made to the grocery store after moving out and going to college resulted in the purchase of every chocolate cereal I could find. It was so good.

  7. “I knew too many kids in college who when they finally left their parents governorship, went completely off the deep end. I want my kids to be able to manage freedom, because they will at some point have it. If they can’t manage it, then we all will have failed.”

    Amen. That is a truly brilliant conclusion. Most church members utterly fail to grasp this concept.

    Steve, I agree with your caveat, but in the end, even someone with an existing problem is going to have to learn to discipline themselves.

  8. Julie M. Smith says:

    Yeah, but . . .

    Most of us do not allow our children unlimited access to any food that they might want, because they don’t have enough knowledge to understand the health (and financial, and ethical, and social, and environmental, etc.) consequences of their food choices. So we limit what is available to them.

    By the same token, I’m guessing it is a rare 11yo boy who “gets” the real problem with pornography.

    However, I think the important truth in this post and comments is that we need to realize that the day will come that our filters won’t matter and we need to prepare them for that day. If you think the “solution” to pornography is a filter, and that once you have the filter on your computer the matter is over, you are perhaps setting your kid up to fail later on. The filter is a short-term solution while you teach the child to filter himself.

  9. And Julie is a very wise woman…

  10. Aaron Brown says:

    Try googling Sleeping Beauty without any filters on (as I once inadvertantly did for my daughter). OK, seriously, maybe don’t try googling Sleeping Beauty without any filters on.


  11. Aaron Brown says:

    Or maybe it was Cinderella. I dunno.

  12. anon on this one says:

    Filters are easily circumvented. For one so motivated, it becomes a game to avoid getting caught, the adrenaline rush of which gets intermingled with the dopamine from viewing the content.

    I agree with what others have said that we need to teach people to self filter rather than setting up artificial means of blocking unworthy media because those means are not available in all circumstances, and do nothing about changing the desire to access those types of media.

    We live in this world, not the world of 50 years ago. Our children must interact with technology and information in this culture, not the one that existed before cable television, the world wide web, cellphones, etc. I’m not sure much of what is out there in terms of preventative measures against becoming ensnared in use of pr0n and other destructive media really works. My kids are all still under the age of 6, but I think I’m going to put my money on demystifying sex and sexuality in hopes of preventing the allure of the taboo, the secret, the unspoken from intensifying what (thanks to teenage hormones) are already turbulent waters through which one must navigate. That, and a good dose of open communication and unconditional love and support when inevitable slip-ups or inadvertant interactions occur. I’m crossing my fingers…

  13. barcelo says:

    Simply put, one of the best blog entries I’ve read ever. Extremely rich and thoughtful message. Equally agree with the thoughts in #8.

    My children are too young right now for this to apply but when the time comes, these thoughts I’m sure will inform my behaviour towards this issue.

  14. I think the best, and really the only effective way, is to teach children the truth and let them govern themselves.

    At the same time they need to be aware of the rules of their home which might include:

    1. All Computers in open area.
    2. Hours of use managed.
    3. Software to help avoid certain sites from popping up unexpectedly.

    We taught are teenage children that rules for our home are like rules of the road. They all wanted to drive as soon as possible so the rules of the road turned out to be a useful comparison.

    I think this works for most children, but there are others who are going to use every trick to accomplish their purpose–rules be damned types.

    These are the children that will do the equivalent of “driving drunk” with their internet privileges and will need to have the keys taken from them.

  15. Maybe my world is not representative. But the teenage boys I deal with (grandsons), would much rather kill someone on their computers, in the ugliest ways, than to look at nude women twice their age. In some ways, that scares me more.

  16. Bob. my guess is that you don’t see all that your teenage boys are up to.

  17. It’s good to teach children to self-govern, however, using filters to make it so that a kid has to choose to find porn instead of porn coming to find him/her is a wise precaution.

    Also be aware that porn is addictive and thus it’s better to be proactive in addressing it before it’s an issue, then try to fix the problem afterwards.

    The problem of pornography is ubiquitous and difficult to overcome. I’d suggest hearing what your bishop has to say (I’m sure that he’s had a lot of heart-breaking experiences with it.) and incorporating it. Our bishop suggests not allowing google to be used in our homes, because sites the google window visits doesn’t record in the history. So he says.

  18. Steve Evans says:

    Toni, no offense but that bishop is an idiot.

  19. As a general matter, it’s incorrect to suggest that that Google searches aren’t cached.

    The message may have gotten garbled, and may have meant to cover just Google Chrome (the new Google browser). Chrome has a number of features; one of them is a relatively easy don’t-record-this button. But then again, anyone with basic browser knowledge can knock out the browsing history on Firefox or IE, too.

  20. We’ve raised four boys on #14’s first two suggestions. Never any filters. I’ve always felt like the day would come when they leave home or they were at a friends house and it would be available. I wanted all their control to come from internal controls. Plus they have always known more about computers than me and I figured they could end run anything I could set up (and they could), including getting through filters or altering use-histories. So far they’ve seen things come up and have closed them themselves. They even tell stories of the things that pop up and what they had to do to close it (sometimes it hard as multiple things keep popping up). That seems to me filters create exactly the problems discussed in #6.

  21. Maybe someone said this already, but part of the benefit of the filter is to avoid accidental exposure to something that could *start* a bad habit.

    But I agree with the notion that you can’t just put your kids in an armored car – you have to help them learn how to put on the armor of God.

    I love Pres Packer’s saying that “true doctrine, understood, changes behavior quicker than talking about behavior changes behavior.” I think this applies in a big way here.

  22. Steve G. says:

    While this blog has many aspects that resonate with me, I don’t think unfiltered internet is a good thing. I filter my internet with a very good free filter, that filters it on my kid’s log-in accounts, but not on my own or my wife’s. It also locks out the internet on their accounts after the bedtime hour. If anybody’s interested you can download the filter at This is the first one I found that gives enough control where you want it, but also lets you customize that control to very specific degrees.

    Here’s the thing. My kids are 9,6,3. They are just starting to get into the internet, but are too young for the surprises out there. After reading this blog I may consider loosening the restriction on each kid’s account as they get older, but to let them have unfettered access to the internet is not appropriate in my opinion. Kids are oversexed enough at a young age. I’d like to let them retain their innocence at least until they are in their double digits.

    The last argument I have in favor of filters is the protection of your computer. I’ve had to clean off enough computers from pornware infections (both at work and friends and family’s computer) as a result of late night porn peeping. Those sites pay for themselves by installing junk on your machine, which in most cases requires a complete reformat and reinstallation of the hard drive.

    My recommendation for families is to always set up multiple accounts. Password protect all administrator accounts and filter the open accounts. Its very easy to do, and the safety of your computer and data are in the balance.

  23. Thank you J.

    I often get a laugh out of the often used phrase “all things in moderation,” a misreading of the scripture. I doubt you would hear any sane LDS argue that there should be moderation in chastity, including consumption of pornography. Sorry… just a side thought.

    I believe straight forward discussion about approved, condoned sexuality is an avoided key to addressing “chocolate cereal” scenarios, as was previously referenced. I know that as a male, a youth in the Church, that my parent’s lack of discussion on the subject led to certain curiosities, which I still feel were accentuated by vagueness on the issues at hand for a hormonal teenager.

    Anyhow, don’t read into that last line too deeply. ;)

  24. AOL has pretty good parental controls. One that was useful was a timer function that allowed us to allocate how long our children could surf the internet and would shut it down by a set time.

  25. I agree with you J. Stapley. You do need a basic filter; otherwise it can just pop up while searching for something completely harmless. Put the computer in a high traffic area in the house. Have a password so they cannot get on the internet if you are not home. When (not if) they do find it; do not come completely undone ( this will probably happen at a friend’s house). Just talk and come up with a plan to not do it again.

  26. Loved the article and posts. Pornography and desire to see it is like many other sins (non-tithing, drinking, honesty). It may seem greater because it is so addicting, but any sin that keeps us from the light of the temple is serious. If we as parents maintain a relationship of trust with our children, they will eventually see our boundaries as railings along the right path (like the iron rod) instead of fences keeping them from greener looking pastures. It is wise to protect our children from sin until they are equipped to deal with it. Filtering content is a good but equipping them is better. The message is the same, “Teach them to bring light into their life and darkness will not abide it” No one can resist on their own but through Jesus Christ.

  27. Thomas Parkin says:

    I totally believe in trust. Trust that they will not pursue pron, and trust that after they do they will cease to do so, and trust that after they are addicted they will seek for help, etc. Trust at every possible step and misstep. No one, no one, wants to be monitored and mistrusted. A parent who constantly monitors every step his growing child makes will drive many behaviors underground where there is very little help for them.

    That said – I think filters for young children are appropriate. There is no reason to have them inadvertently exposed to things they don’t yet have any tools to deal with.

    There is only one final shield against our increasingly x rated world – and that is a pure heart, A pure heart is developed in only one way, that is the companionship of the Holy Spirit. Companionship of the Holy Spirit is only achieved by keeping baptismal covenants. A child will only be aware of these things if they are taught the gospel and believe it.

    It is difficult to believe that someone whose life is saturated with the Spirit will not have an attraction to porn – but it is even better than that. A person whose brain is full of years of images and an overwhelming need for them can establish a completely new relation to those images when they do constantly things that bring the Spirit into their lives and get a new heart. I think we need a lot more faith in this process than we do in parenting strategies. ~

  28. Re: Trust
    Isn’t this the exact thing that Heavenly Father does for us. He trusts that we will make good decisions within the light of the gospel. He has provided a solution for us (the Savior) when the light is not so strong in our lives. We are all spiritual teenagers learning to deal with spiritual pornography (anything that detracts from being Christ-like – keeps us from entering the kingdom of god – SIN). Fortunately, Heavenly Father is an all loving parent (patient and trusting) to each of his teenagers. Nonetheless, he knows that bringing his children into spiritually-minded families gives them a leg up in the fight against sin. They are filterers for a time and equippers for a time. —

  29. Another thing that we have done is simply try to keep them off the internet…not in a controlling way, but by keeping them busy with other things. Young children, imo, really have no need to be on the computer except for school work, maybe.

    All the while, we talk a lot — a lot — (ages 10, 9, and 7) about why it’s so important to be pure…in every way. It’s about keeping the Spirit. I’ve actually been pretty amazed at how much their spirits can and do resonate with. e.g., We listened to Elder Bednar’s recent CES talk together and talked about that, for example. I think we should never underestimate the power of doctrine in our children’s lives, even when they are young.

    I also think that there is a benefit to protecting them from content (tv included). The less they are exposed to anything coarse or crass or crude when they are young, the more they can recognize things that are coarse and crass and crude when they are older, imo. I think it’s possible to control what comes into your house without being controlling…to teach the principles along the way so children realize that they aren’t being deprived, they are being protected, guided, and loved.

    Having seen the flip side where not enough control and teaching was offered, where not only p*rn was consumed but felonies were committed in the home, I think caution and some measure of control — with the teaching so the spirit can testify of WHY the controls are there — is definitely warranted.

  30. Norbert says:

    Anyone who works in a junior high or high school will mock with scorn any parent’s idea that they have much control over what their kids see or do.

    Having said that, I think a filter that keeps accidental views at a minimum are not a bad thing. But a situation where the filter is the thing keeping your kids safe from the evils of teh interwebs? And the wicked hand of Google? Puleeese.

  31. J., here’s a suggestion. Install the filters and then also teach your kids all those things about freedom and porn and being like God that you mentioned in your post.

  32. I was the branch president of a university branch a year ago and I can tell you, as I’m sure many others can, that pr0n0graphi addiction and use is a much bigger problem than most people probably realize. I would say that about 90% of the men in my branch either had an ongoing problem or were recovering from one. About 10% of women had similar issues. Everyone in this branch was single and younger than 30.

    Because of how sweeping this problem is I gained a healthy respect for it. It really can’t be treated lightly.

    But, I agree with the OP on this post. Our solution with our kids (oldest boy is 14) is that we have a filter set up that Warns him every time he is about to navigate to a site that has adult/mature content. He can proceed if he wants to and the filter won’t stop him. We have talked extensively with him about his responsibility to back out when he sees a warning unless he’s confident that the site is clean.

    It also logs all of his online behavior so we can intervene early if a problem develops.

    Personally, I think this is a good plan because it gives him help and motivation to develop good habits that he can use when he’s out of the nest. As someone else said, we’re crossing our fingers.

  33. StillConfused says:

    My son is the network administrator at my house. So I told him if he was going to do the pron stuff that he would need to set up barriers to protect himself from it. he informed me that most of the pron sites have trojans (not the condom kind) and such and so looking at online pron had the risk of damaging the network. He likes networks more than boobies so we are set here.

    Also, I think there is a large difference between addiction and natural curiousity. I hope others recognize that as well.

  34. anonymous says:

    BRW–what filter is it that you use? I’d like a filter that monitors but doesn’t necessarily block.

    I have always been in the “teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves” camp. We’ve always had the computer in a central location where I can see what they are doing. We’ve monitored their time and use of the computer. IOW, done everything the experts say to do.

    But I’m still concerned because we’re also dealing with clinical depression in our teenage boys and I’m not sure how well the internal controls are working. There are other sites besides the porn that bother me–the morbid, violent sites that feed into teenage angst.

    While I want them to learn self-control and making good choices, I worry that their maturity and emotional health are insufficient for what’s available to them on the Internet. I never thought I’d ever consider using a filter, that our teaching and monitoring would be sufficient. Now I’m not so sure…

    Bad parent day. Bad parent month.

  35. You could extend some of the arguments here to legalizing drugs. Spend the drug war money on anti-drug education programs instead. Crime would go way down, but would drug use go up? Pr0n is very drug-like in its effects. Some people seem to be able to “enjoy it in moderation” and others become addicts. Can’t see any good coming of it either way.

    I honestly could go either way on the filter thing. There’s a big difference between being exposed to something at school and bringing it into the home. Home is supposed to be a sanctuary — a place of light in contrast to other places which may be darker.

  36. I think we must teach our children, but also remember that they are raging with hormones right now, that totally screw up their neocortex and ability to think straight.

    I protect my kids based upon their age and personal responsibility. I have a filter on my computer, so no one has to worry about accidentally having something pulled up. I use k9webprotection, which is free. It allows me to adjust its capabilities, and provides a password override, if I need it for something.

    The Church encourages us to have our internet computer in a family room out in the open. We are to avoid temptation, not just sin. Why would I want to put them, with their hormones, in danger? Instead, I would guide them and give them agency to the level of their personal responsibility. And by using a filter, I show them a responsible way to avoid a lot of the garbage out there, which I hope they will also use in their own homes.

  37. Anonymous: We use It costs $30 a year, I think. It will block everything if you want it to, but I set four or five of the categories to “Warn” and the rest to “Allow”. The only category we outright block is proxies (but you can get around that if you’re motivated to). Then I turned on the history-monitoring feature.

    We all want our kids to learn self-control so I REALLY appreciate this conversation, but breaking a habit like this is extremely difficult, and sometimes seemingly impossible, so I think it’s a really good idea to stay on top of it as much as possible while they’re young so no bad habits develop.

    It’s a hard call to make though. I can’t guarantee that our approach is going to work either. Call me in 10 years and I’ll let you know.

  38. I’m sure no one is advocating a filter as a reasonable alternative to teaching your children self-discipline.

    How much of this is about not wanting to be inconvenienced with a filter versus some larger philosophical point? (Not that I’m accusing anyone of being disingenuous.) We don’t have any particular fancy filter on our computer and it’s largely because my husband doesn’t want to bother with it, for some reason I can’t remember. I know he didn’t try to tell me that he wanted our children to learn self-discipline.

    Anyway, our children are 11, 8, 6 and 3. I have rules about what they’re allowed to do on the computer, including “no googling” because I don’t know what they’re going to be exposed to accidentally, and anyway, I don’t want them on the computer much in the first place (mostly because I’d rather they were outside playing or reading a book or doing just about anything that is both legal and reasonably healthy).

    Frankly, I have nothing against locking down the house. I don’t think we’d lose anything. Of course, I also don’t think that pr0n is like chocolate cereal.

  39. I’m still thinking about the Forbidden Fruit argument. I wonder if instead of forbidding my children to punch each other, I could set up a boxing ring in our family room and just tell them to be smart about it. I don’t want them beating the crap out of some homeless person the minute they’re out of my sight.

  40. I’m wondering the same thing that mhw did in #38 with another example. Should I order up all of the adult channels on cable in order to teach my children how to make their own decisions? I’m not trying to be a smart aleck. What is the essential difference between that argument and your internet filter argument?

    I do completely agree with the philosophical ideals expressed in the OP and subsequent comments but I’m having problems with the implementation.

  41. One can surf with a 56k modem or cancel their internet subscription or become a fulltime missionary without a call if necessary. The internet is vast. Why don’t you guys post in non-lds sites? I go to a sites that are desolate of light. Digg for example. LDS can put down many errors if they tried.

  42. Scott B says:

    Of course, I also don’t think that pr0n is like chocolate cereal.

    Madhousewife, like I said in #6–that chocolate cereal was awesome. I seriously ate like 3 boxes of it. Mmmm.

  43. Regarding the last couple of comments. Unfiltered access is an inevitability for our children. It is just a matter of when. Now, you will notice in my original post that I did note that I could log where my kids have been, and that I would probably check that. But if our kids don’t learn how to self filter at home, they will have to do it with out our help later. I prefer the former.

  44. …also, I haven’t reread the comments, but I think there has been a significant disparity between the male and female commenters’ perspective.

  45. Hiram Page says:

    In light of #32 (90% of men in singles branch had a porn problem or were recovering), I wonder whether there has been a generational shift with respect to this issue. It may be that even for active, faithful Mormon male teenagers occasional internet porn viewing is simply the norm. If this is the case, I think this likely means that admonitions to avoid porn are going to be received and understood in a different way by teenagers than they are by older Mormon men (who grew up pre-internet, if not pre-television). It may be that such admonitions are now received by most active Mormon male teenagers more like admonitions to make your bed or to always tell the truth–ideals to strive for rather than as prohibitions of a serious sin.

  46. I was being kind of a smart aleck in #39, and it’s not really any of my business if people filter or don’t filter–like I said, we don’t (particularly) and I think our kids will be just fine and safe, but not necessarily better at self-filtering specifically because they didn’t have the same external filters as the “locked-down” homes have. I don’t know how they’re going to do with self-filtering once they get it into their heads that they might like to look at some nekkid pictures, at home or at a friend’s house or when they go to college or whatever. I will have taught them the same things about appropriate media in any case. I’m just not sure the presence or absence of an external filter makes much difference in terms of learning how to self-filter.

    My children don’t have access to any television stations in our home (because our TV is so old and we don’t have cable or an antennae), but I don’t really think their ability to willingly eschew inappropriate TV shows is handicapped because of this.

    I think the most compelling argument for an external filter is avoiding accidental exposure, but I reckon you could also consider it a statement about what you won’t permit in your home. I hope it’s obvious–since I don’t have one of these SuperDuper filters in my home–that you don’t have to have such a filter to make such a statement, but you can see it primarily as a statement of “this is not acceptable in this house” and not “we don’t trust you to make appropriate choices.” Some might not see a difference between the two, of course, but ::shrug::.

    The male/female difference here is partly what makes me suspect that there might be something other than high-minded notions of free will at stake here. Men are funny about their machines.

  47. Scott B. (42) – Perhaps I spoke too quickly. Chocolate cereal is gross, and so is porn. : P

  48. Cocoa Pebbles are gift directly from God.

  49. re # 46, if you think that what J. is talking about in this post with porn is simply “some nekkid pictures” or “boobies” then there is a fundamental misunderstanding, I think.

    J., I think there is a lot of value to the argument of making your home a sanctuary and not allowing anything of that sort into it. The filters would be one way to make sure this happens. You obviously view that differently. Whether you set up the filter to prevent that material in your home or not, it is impossible to ignore that your kids will be exposed to the most groteque perversions imaginable on their peers’ iPods in the school hallways etc. The world really is different now than when we were kids. Whereas we might have stumbled across crumpled pages of a Playboy (which really is just “some nekkid pictures” as madhousewife dismissively describes modern porn) in the gutter or at the park while playing with friends, our kids now face exposure to the Full Monty due to the exponentially increased availability of the material coupled with the exponentially decreased levels of what society considers inappropriate and what constutites “hardcore” material.

    I suggest making your home into a sanctuary where that cannot be present while at the same time focusing your efforts on doing everything you can to teach your kids correct principles about self discipline and freedom. At the same time, you will need to find a way to correct your kids’ incorrect ideas about what sex is all about that they are bombarded with from the environment in which they live.

  50. JS, your response reiterates your original comments and still leaves unanswered my question.

    I get it that you think unfiltered access is inevitable, I think so too. I get it that you think we must teach our children to self filter, I think so too. But I don’t get the leap of logic from those philosophical views to the implementation that decides an unfiltered home is the best means to teach children how to be their own filters.

    Should I order up the adult cable channels and subscribe to adult men’s magazines to help my children learn how to deal with unfiltered access? What is the difference between providing access via an unfiltered internet connection and providing access via an unfiltered cable connection or mail connection?

    Should I have a well stocked liquor cabinet, some cigarettes and a stash of weed in my home because it is inevitable that my children will come in contact with those substances and teaching them to self filter at home is better than postponing the education to later in life when they are on their own?

    These may appear to be facetious questions but they aren’t. What do we mean when we espouse a self filtered home? Is it just the internet and not other things like movies, magazines and Word of Wisdom issues? If so then it seems more laziness than conviction; unfiltered internet is standard while filtered cable, DVDs and mail are the norm, so just go with the status quo.

  51. Steve Evans says:

    KLC, you say that those aren’t facetious questions, but if they’re not facetious then you fundamentally do not understand the internet.

  52. Steve, can you be any more condescending without really saying anything? Sometimes your comments here remind me of the Great Oz behind the curtain.

    If you want to join a conversation about the OP I’d love to hear what you think. My comments were made with that same intent.

  53. Steve Evans says:

    “Steve, can you be any more condescending without really saying anything?”


  54. KLC, you state yourself that unfiltered internet is an inevitability. All your other examples are not an inevitability. It is not inevitable that your child will eventually have a closet full of drugs, pornographic magazines and DVDs and cable TV with pornographic channels. Consequently, your analogy is fundamentally flawed.

    At this point, I don’t believe that one can learn to self filter without actually having an opportunity. Now, as I said in my original post, it would be foolish to give children unfettered access to the internet and make no effort to help them manage. So things like having the computer in a public location or having the ability to check logs are, I believe, important.

  55. Scott B says:

    KLC–I think what the great and terrible Oz was implying was that you seem be saying that “Son, there are hookers out there. Be careful, okay?” = “Son, I bought a hooker for you. She’s downstairs in the closet, next to your bedroom. Be careful, okay?”

  56. Steve Evans says:

    KLC, listen to the tin man (#54) and the cowardly lion (#55). They may not have heart or courage, but at least they have brains.

  57. Eric Russell says:

    What’s important is that they learn that they never needed the filters to begin with – they had the power to resist temptation all along. But you can’t just tell them that, because they never would believe you. They have to learn it for themselves.

  58. JS, my questions were asked with the assumption that the essence of your post is not internet access but teaching our children how to deal with inevitable temptation.

    As we both stated our children confronting the temptations of an unfiltered internet is inevitable. You stated quite clearly that your solution to that is to allow that temptation in your home so that your children will be given the opportunity to confront it and learn to self filter.

    As I said the first time, I have great sympathy for the philosophy but the implementation troubles me. I’m not judging your approach; I’m not saying it’s wrong or right; I’m not espousing a different approach. I’m trying to figure out my reservations by applying the same logic to other temptations.

    I did not say that it was inevitable that a child will “eventually have a closet full of drugs, pornographic magazines and DVDs and cable TV with pornographic channels”. I said that, like the temptations of the internet, it is inevitable that our children will have to confront drugs, alcohol, cable tv p0rnography and other temptations just like they will have to confront the internet. Why would providing those temptations in my home in order to provide a learning opportunity be any different than providing unfiltered internet temptation in my home to do the same?

    As I’ve tried to explain this more clearly I’ve thought of some ideas why my comparison is not the best. The internet is more like money or a camera, a tool that can be used for a lot of purposes, good and not so good. So I’ll recognize that the analogy between a DSL line and a joint is not the best. But that has nothing to do with the more fundamental concept of what to allow in our homes in order to provide inoculation from temptation.

  59. I’m a member of singles ward, and part of that unaddicted minority. I stay that way in part by making sure I have intrusive pop up blocks and search filtering restrictions. I can get around these, sure, but it’s really helpful to have in place sometimes. Let me be clear: living largely alone and without family structure and support, without any clear path to marriage and normal intimacy requires enormous self discipline if you want to stay clean, especially if you have to do it for more than your undergraduate years. My guess is that many men in the church who get to their mid-late 20’s single and worthy do things like I do. In spite of our hopes that we could just say no to whatever comes up, we feel too vulnerable to believe it is wise to expose ourselves to the internet without those protections in place. What my parent’s filtering taught me was how to make a decision when you are at your best and to set up your life to help you follow through on it. I certainly am glad that my parents followed that process in our home. That involved filtering.

  60. >I’m a member of singles ward, and part of that unaddicted minority.

    Riiiight. That’s what they all say. 9:1 you’re lying.

  61. Nameless says:

    JS, my questions were asked with the assumption that the essence of your post is not internet access but teaching our children how to deal with inevitable temptation.

    We’ve done it both ways–heavy filter and not so filtered. I think it depends somewhat up on your child. Completely unfiltered I think is insane (to ward off pop ups, etc.)–even places of employment are not completely unfiltered. If my kids commented on how their internet privileges were somehow more restricted than their friends, I would say sorry—that is just how we do it in our family–our home is different. This applies whether their friends are LDS or not.

    Although the OP was directed towards pornography, I think we have to be just as careful about IM and Facebook. But again, I qualify this with saying it depends up on the child. Some kids are just not interested and it won’t pose a problem. I hesitate in making these grand assumptions on child rearing based on the experience with my child because I am learning as my kids go through their teen years that for some the ride is bumpier than others.

    Coco Puffs trump Coco Pebbles.

  62. veiled comment says:

    Filters, definitely.
    Been through this. Son’s first exposure (that we know of) happened when he was researching Greek mythology on the web. Oh, the things that came up! We never knew until his sister hit some button, looked at the pictures that popped up and said, “What in the . . . !”
    I hear my old self in many of the comments here. “They’ll do what’s right. They’ll always be honest with us. We’ll somehow know what’s up.” Wow, but there was so much going on that we didn’t know about.
    The habit that ensued followed him for years. It has gotten in his way around every bend and turn in his life.
    I think he’s clean now, and filters are part of his strategy. They are a necessary tool.

  63. Carlos U. says:

    Filter. Homes should be safe enviroments, where one can grow up without developing addictions. In my non-member parent’s house there was a How-to-sex book for anyone to see. As a child, I looked at it many times. That developed a suceptibility that I still struggle with. A comment I read once and liked enough to copy says:

    “I think for teenage boys, putting a computer in their room with internet access and expecting them to not look at some at porno sites would be as unreasonable as placing a stack of girly magazines in their rooms and telling them not to look at them. I doubt I could resist such temptation and I am a aging high priest and an early morning seminary teacher.”

  64. Been There says:

    I have been a bishop 2x and have dealt with many, both myself, an others both old and young men who have struggled with porn addiction. I keep K9 (free filter) on my own computer and let my wife keep the password because I believe porn can take down anyone even myself. I do not feel weak to say that porn is stronger than me….even though I have great desires to do what is right. I use a filter to help deny me of “all unrightousness” and I am not ashamed to say that! I would go filter! You can try and teach you children, but I say help them realize that they do not have to fight the battle alone….that they can use tools to defend themselves against such weakness. Good luck!