Why placing the computer in the living room doesn’t work

When Mormon women are asked how they can protect their families from pornography, a common reply is that the computer should be placed in the center of the room.  The strategy is essentially that of Foucault’s panopticon.  The assumption seems to be that the best way to protect families from pornography is to live in a bubble.  But while placing a computer in the center of a room might have prevented children from going to certain websites ten years ago, we now live in the age of handheld devices.

Now that information no longer comes through a centralized computer, any attempt to monitor what people watch is ultimately a losing battle.  All the more reason, I think, to give up this approach to dealing with pornography.  Rather than monitoring every bit of information that children or adults consume and believing that anything bad they see will set them on the path towards darkness, the only way I see to actually “protect” our families is to have frank, open discussions about what they see in which images, lifestyles, and trends are contextualized.  At other times, we need to recognize that addiction might be merely a symptom of other far more fundamental problems, such as the long-term unemployment that makes people despair.

If we are unhappy with society’s discourse about sex, then we need to replace it with another discourse.  But pretending that sex doesn’t exist or will damage us if we are exposed to it is likely to make children watch the very porn we discourage since there is nothing else to educate them about sex.  At any rate, in an age of dispersed and constant information, it is hard to see how a paradigm in which we simply separate ourselves from information can survive.


  1. How many families are wealthy enough to purchase handheld devices with large screens and Internet access plans for their children? And couldn’t they just refuse to even if they could?

    The idea that people need to learn the self discipline to avoid pornography even when readily accessible is absolutely necessary for adults. Children are in a different category for very good reason.

    Speaking of which if the courts hadn’t overturned the Communications Decency Act based on a purist version of the First Amendment back in 1997 or so, the explosion of Internet pornography would have been a fraction of its present size, and largely invisible to children and those not willing to pay for it.

  2. This reminds me of a practice in World War I where pilots were not given parachutes because their superiors believed it would lessen the confidence, intensity, and focus of their pilots, (or place them in a bubble if you will). As a result many pilots lost their lives because they didn’t implement a simple safety measure.

    For those that are struggling with addiction, or who may be tempted on a bad day I encourage them to have parachutes by placing their computer in an open place. I don’t think it destroys the underlying teachings that we need to know and understand to place the computer in an open place.

  3. Natalie B. says:

    2) If one is already addicted, then, sure, remove the computer if that works for you. But my post is not so much about those already addicted as to how we are teaching our children to process sex and cope with a world where we inevitably encounter things we don’t like. I just don’t think it is possible to avoid seeing everything, so I think we need another approach, one that figures out a way to talk appropriately to children about sex.

  4. Carson S. says:

    The more you “protect” people from something, the more curious they become. Natalie makes an excellent point: Instead of making sex into an evil thing which should never be spoken of, you educate your kids about it. Sex exists, people have it, so there’s no sense in ignoring it. By putting kids into a bubble, you run the risk of warping their views of sex (and love), and that could cause severe problems in adulthood.

    Let’s say I have a son, and I catch him looking at porn. What are my options? One is to berate him and make him feel like a terrible human being (which was done to me as a teenager), or I can talk to him about what he saw and why it doesn’t accurately represent the nature of sex and how it denies the fundamental emotional aspect of the act. I can tell him about how it objectifies women and effectively endorses rape. You tell me which option is best.

  5. I’m a parent and I think a little of both is good. I talk to my kids about sex and educate them a lot about sex. However, having so much accessible at such young ages isn’t healthy for them either.
    Recently a non-LDS acquaintance was saying that her son was tired of all his friends texting porn so they took off picture capability from his phone at his request.

  6. Natalie B. says:

    I just want to clarify that I of course agree that we should not be showing very young children certain images and we should help them use technology appropriately. But trying to screen them from the inevitable can’t be our only response.

    Some people in my RS suggested that a workshop on how to talk to children and young adults about sex, which I think would be a good idea.

  7. Some of my thoughts.

  8. From President Brigham Young and very applicable to his discussion:

    Shall I sit down and read the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Book of Covenants all the time?” says one. Yes, if you please, and when you have done, you may be nothing but a sectarian after all. It is your duty to study to know everything upon the face of the earth, in addition to reading those books. We should not only study good, and its effects upon our race, but also evil, and its consequences.

    I make these remarks to lay the foundation for principle in the minds of the people; and if you do not yet understand what I would be at, I will try to illustrate it still further. For example, we will take a strict, religious, holy, down country, eastern Yankee, who would whip a beer barrel for working on Sunday, and never suffer a child to go into company of his age, never suffer him to have any associates, or permit him to do any thing or know anything, only what the deacon, priests, or missionaries bring to the house; when that child attains to mature age, say eighteen or twenty years, he is very apt to steal away from his father and mother; and when he has broken his bands, you would think all hell was let loose, and that he would compass the world at once.
    Now understand it, when parents whip their children for reading novels, and never let them go to the theatre, or to any place of recreation and amusement, but bind them to the moral law, until duty becomes loathsome to them; when they are freed by age from the rigorous training of their parents, they are more fit for companions to devils, than to be the children of such religious parents.
    If I do not learn what is in the world, from first to last, somebody will be wiser than I am. I intend to know the whole of it, both good and bad. Shall I practise evil? No; neither have I told you to practise it, but to learn by the light of truth every principle there is in existence in the world.

    Brigham Young 
    Journal of Discourses, 2:34.

  9. I agree that it doesn’t work ‘just’ to put the computer in the living room and leave it at that, no conversation, nothin.

    But I don’t think ‘just’ a conversation is enough either.

    No matter what you tell kids, if you give them a laptop to keep in their bedroom, they are going to look at things they normally wouldn’t do out in the open. The temptation is just too great.

    I don’t think it should be one or the other…how about keeping temptation at bay during their formative years, AND having it be an open, frank, ongoing conversation?

  10. Anon this time says:

    Lol. The suggestion to put the computer in the living room assumes a single computer in a household. I don’t think I want 9 computers in my living room! And there aren’t even 9 people living in the household. (We’re unabashed tech geeks, with an at-home tech business, plus multiple student laptops.) Even so, most computers are in the basement greatroom, with monitors set in a position that what is on the screen is visible to all others in the room. (Other computers are in the two home offices.)

    Having said that, some of my sons have encountered internet porn and were briefly drawn in by it. They did so on computers that were in plain view of others 100% of the time (either at home in the great room or at school). What was more important for dealing with these events was that they knew that it would be safe and appropriate to come talk to us about it, and together we developed plans that rather than shielding them from further exposure instead strengthened their resolve to let it alone. We continue to check in on each other on these things. I guess my theory is better a strong immune system than bubble-boy protection.

    I know we are outliers here, since we’re unabashed tech geeks

  11. I did a RS workshop/discussion on how to talk to your kids about sex. 5 people showed. The RS President was older and nervous about the whole thing and ran to the bishop with her concerns.
    I persevered because I had been asked by someone at church to lead a discussion on the subject. She actually wanted sex and also abuse but I said that they each needed their own night.
    I didn’t bother with the second night about talking to your kids about abuse because the first one was headache enough to calm people’s nerves.
    But those of us who went to it, found it helpful and enjoyable.

  12. I should emphasize that although the RS President was nervous she did not nix the idea and she let it go forward. And although the bishop was worried he’d have 6 people in his office complaining about what was discussed, he didn’t stop me either. I was sure his concerns were unfounded since I didn’t expect more than 8 max, (and knowing one of them was me and one his wife), so with the actual 6 who were there that leaves only 4 to complain…..and I’m assuming they didn’t.

  13. Natalie B. says:

    12: I’d be curious to hear any approaches that people thought were effective. When I was in YW, one of my leaders reminded us during a lesson on chastity that sex was also a positive thing and that feeling that it was always bad was the wrong message. That’s one of the few discussions on sex I remember, because as a repressed Mormon women I’ve struggled finding a healthy relationship with the idea of sex.

  14. Great post Natalie. At some point all controls have to be internal. If you emphasize external controls, at some point in their lives they will have abundant access and external reasons fail.

  15. I don’t really see why this needs to be either/or. We can both talk to our children about p*rn to prepare them for when they encounter it and make wise choices in what access to technology we give our kids. Phones that access internet have made it much more difficult to avoid p*rn, but I don’t think it means that we don’t have a responsibility to restrict that access as appropriate.

  16. Chill folks__the kids will be OK. We will be OK. Nothing is coming to take your minds that hasn’t always been here. Just make sure your kids know the simple, but true facts of the birds and bees.

  17. if it were so simple as to either put the computer in the living room or to talk to our kids about what they see, then this really wouldn’t be such a big problem. It’s a big problem because there are no easy answers and the damage done by the viewing of porn is long lasting.

  18. I believe the panopticon is Jeremy Bentham’s invention, not Foucault’s.

  19. StillConfused says:

    Thank you so much for saying what I have always felt. My children each had their own computers in their rooms. And they didn’t turn out as pervs. But I also had extremely frank conversations with them where all of their questions were answered and sex was never considered gross or, more importantly, evil.

  20. Thomas Parkin says:

    Foucault wrote an interesting chapter on the Panopticon in his book Discipline and Punish. Goodness, I’ve got a lot to say on this subject, but it will have to wait.

  21. I’d be curious to hear any approaches that people thought were effective.

    So would every parent and educator in the world. Daniel’s closest to the truth here, that it a complex problem with serious implications. It is also a different issues for different kids. I think you have to assume that an adolescent is looking at porn and masturbating (not always at the same time). Kids who find mainstream porn demeaning find other porn. I do believe that parents should check up on their kids and their computer use anyway, and that parents ought to discuss pornography use with their kids, but neither is likely to be very effective with every kid. Oversimplifications can come from many sources.

  22. On the Wrong Blog says:

    Radical honesty is by far the best approach. Kids will either get it at home or be exposed to it by friends at some point (well, at least boys will), if they have a computer at home or have friends with computers. If you try to pretend it doesn’t exist and demonize it, it will become all the more alluring when they come across it. And even if by some miracle they never come across it, it’s very unlikely they won’t when they become adults.

  23. I think the more we can help children feel the Spirit as they grow, too, the more they can learn to discern between good and evil.

    One of my fave quotes on this came from a bishop: “We want to put our children in an armored car, but we have to help them learn how to put on the armor of God.” That’s about a whole lot more than just good sex ed, imo.

    But I am a huge fan of open and regular conversations about sex, too.

    Another thought: I personally don’t think that having a computer in a public place is the same thing as demonizing sex. It can add a sense of responsibility — for children and adults. One of the key problems with porn is the privacy element of it. Of course that isn’t a cure-all, but I do think it’s wise counsel.

  24. I also think there is a bigger picture issue here and that’s how much time young people are ‘online’ — connected in some way through a device. Read this NY Times article about the stats — they are sobering.

  25. I’m the 19th to comment but the first to “Like”. That means absolutely nothing.

    And Natalie, I’m totally feeling you on this one. Thank your for articulating this for me.

  26. Whoa… I meant 25th. ;-)

  27. @24: I agree with you and the article. But you will notice that there is no mention of P-orn in the article.
    IMO___P-orn in the Church is more of an adult problem. The kids are more into war games and silly chat.

  28. I think the computer in the living room is still a great strategy. My kids are young (oldest 11) and while they are going to encounter stuff in a million places without me, it allows me to help guide them on how to use the technology. We can all see together what happens if they do a random image or youtube search vs. a strategic one. If they download some random cursor or video game that comes with a bunch of annoying spyware we can talk about that. I don’t keep them in the living room to prevent access, I keep it in here so I can use every opportunity to teach them to how to avoid the darker stuff accidentally, a very different life skill than avoiding it on purpose.

    I agree that it has to be more than the “living room rule” but it has been super effective to start dialogue in our home. Others here have pointed out that it isn’t an either/or but with young children who don’t have that access yet, I think it is a good rule of thumb for parents who are starting out or who don’t have the skill or understanding themselves to teach the higher principles.

  29. The kids are more into war games and silly chat.

    Hm. I think we need to be careful not to assume this. See #5 as an example. I have heard of other anecdotes as well (like a ward where few/none of the young men can pass the sacrament because of porn problems, or a young man in an exclusive sports academy that he had to quit because the porn being exchanged was so constant and vile).

    See this story (just Googled ‘sexting’) as another evidence that we can’t assume that it’s all just ‘silly’ activity (besides, isn’t excessive time plugged in itself a concern? I think it should be).

    A friend also recently pointed this out to me:

    If they are online, chances are high that many of the youth (including our youth) are engaging in or being exposed to inappropriate sexual discussion or info transfer or other pornographic material. And if not, they are still wasting so much time and surely affecting their brain’s development by so much inane inactivity.

  30. Well, many have expressed my view — one size won’t fit all. Certainly having computer access in a public and not private space will help in some settings. Clearly honest and and frank discussions with children are needed, and at many ages (see A Parent’s Guide). And teaching our children with love and without shame is helpful.

    One thing that’s helpful is when a child and parent discuss a problem (eg, with p-rn viewing or too much face-booking or whatever), it’s a great opportunity for the parent to seek ideas from the child about what could be done to help.

    In our home, as a matter of course, we don’t provide cell phones to kids who live at home. And we don’t pay for data plans for phones on our family group. Our kids complain that they live with the Flintstones sometimes, but we tell them when they buy their own phones and plans they can do what they like.

  31. The Mormon method of teaching kids about sex:

    “Just close your eyes and think of Utah.”

  32. Keeping the computer in a public place is good advice — not commandment or church doctrine, but good advice. Let’s not mock good advice.

  33. I am lucky enough to have a x-bedroom/computer room in my home. Across the street, are my 5 Grandkids. Three teenage boys, 6 & 4 age girls.
    I Have side by side 24″ screens. One for me, and one for them to learn on. No P-orn__no beheading war games. When I am working on mine, they can work on their’s.
    For the boys: Homework, U-tube, music downloads. For the Girls: learn to read/type, Google, and Reader Rabbet stuff.

  34. #19…. These are my sentiments as well.

    I think our discourse and condemnation of p*rn in the church only serves to cause or magnify a problem when there might not be one otherwise. Informing and educating provides children with tools, confidence, and strength. Condemning and vilifying breeds self-loathing, judging, and fear.

  35. chococatania says:

    I think that this is a good post – and comments. It is almost time for our annual FHE – talking about bodies, sex, etc…

    There needs to be a little bit of both – talk and limits. I don’t think that we should go overboard – but it is good to have a few ground rules.

    Another thing: I really like having shared spaces. Our children share a room. We all share an office (where the kids can do homework, I do my bills, etc). We have an art room (where we can all be creative). We share spaces – and the kids share rooms. I really think that it helps with the unity in our home. As a result, the computer is in a shared place.

  36. “I think our discourse and condemnation of p*rn in the church only serves to cause or magnify a problem when there might not be one otherwise. Informing and educating provides children with tools, confidence, and strength. Condemning and vilifying breeds self-loathing, judging, and fear.”

    Something seems missing from this thread and comments.

    My kids have been bombarded with Word of Wisdom lessons for years, probably because they’re the simplest primary lesson to give. I’ve had no indication that “vilifying” alcohol consumption piqued their interest in the least, nor have I gotten that impression from the other youth in my ward. I’m pretty sure they’ve all been exposed to both alcohol and porn.

    I definitely think sex needs to talked about, but porn isn’t sex. It’s a perversion of sex, and calling it disgusting is calling the sky blue on a sunny day. I understand the addiction cycle and how self-loathing contributes to it, but I still think the fundamental problem with porn is how instantly attractive it is. Limiting its access to your children is one of the best defenses there is. They will get exposed, of course, but if they’re afraid of it when they see it, that’s a good thing.

    Talking about intimacy, romantic love, and the physical mechanics of sex are all important, but that’s true regardless of whether porn existed. In a way, I think it’s almost a separate topic.

    My teens are all girls. Maybe that distorts my perspective.

  37. I think porn is a separate topic. So is sexual abuse. You just can’t cover everything in one discussion.
    I try to have discussions with my kids every few weeks. Sometimes its about the good sex stuff. Sometimes its about abuse. Or porn. It shouldn’t always be lumped together so they associate them exclusively.

  38. We’re trying to focus more on education than keeping things out in the open because kids will stumble on pornography. My first look was at scout camp when we found a discarded magazine. Even if my parents had forced me to read magazines in the living room, I still would have found that magazine.

    Same with my kids. My daughter doesn’t have a cell phone, but she has friends who do. There have been three schools in the past couple of years around here that have had major blowups over kids texting inappropriate pictures to each other, in one case a photo of a young girl was forwarded to over 200 kids at the school. Your kids are going to stumble onto it somehow, better to get them prepared and educated on what you think they should do about it when it happens.

    Your kids might not have a data plan, but one of their friends has a laptop, a cell phone or an iPad.

  39. It is called defense in depth and is a principle of information Security. You say solution A does not work so go with solution B. The reality is that multiple solutions need to be implemented to protect children and adults from porn. We need to have filters (opendns.com), place the computer in plain site, limit late night surfing, talk to kids and adults, check log files. I would do all of the above and more. There is no silver bullet.

  40. The Church’s plan has not worked out very well over the last 10 years, but not for lack of trying. I think part of the problem is that the people who know about porn addiction – will not discuss it. Stillconfused said, “…And they didn’t turn out as pervs”. It’s the popular thought that porn consumers are perverts that prevents open discussion about how to overcome it.

    In my Ward I estimate 65% of the MP holders have a porn issue. By this I mean they have actively looked up some kind of porn in the last 12 months. Most wives don’t know. In a local YSA branch the Branch President said 95% to 99% of the MP holders in the branch have a porn issue. Most Young Men in our Stake have an issue.

    For those with daughters – this is what they have to look forward to when considering marriage.

  41. #40: Sorry, but I don’t buy your numbers or terms. If they were true, then 100% of non-Mormons would have an ‘issue’.
    Worse, what does this says about Mormon Marriage, or views on sex?
    I have a daughter___she is more likely to look at P-orn than my son. But I don’t see it as an “addiction” or an “issue”.

  42. I will probably sound like your mother referencing scripture and all, but seriously, this is not a simple “just be healthy about sex” issue. When the Lamanites were preparing to attack the Nephites, Captain Moroni didn’t just throw up the drawbridge and consider it good. And he didn’t just give everyone a “lets all have faith” pep-talk. He built walls around the cities, he threw up huge mounds of dirt and on top of the dirt he built fences and on top of the fences he built pickets and on top of the pickets he placed guards with arrows and rocks.

    Pornography is as incidious as attacking Lamanites. It is everywhere and it is not going to be stopped by a simple firewall or publicly located computer. Teaching children the importance of healthy sexual relations is important, but you are fooling yourself if you think that is enough. With my kids, I employ all the fortifications I possibly can to protect them from this morally reprehensible influence. Ultimately they will make their own decisions regarding whether or not to view it, but it won’t be because I intellectuallized and underestimated the tenacity of the enemy.

  43. #41 Bob- I’m pretty sure most non-mormon men look at p-orn on a regular basis. On almost every online community I’ve been a member of, the issue of p-orn almost always comes up and there are maybe 1-2 women who are agaist p-orn, and the rest are either totally for it and look at it with their boyfriends/husbands as foreplay, or have a ‘boys will be boys’ attitude about it, and say their boyfriend/husband looks at it on his own time. Most people think p-orn is normal, harmless, and even necessary for a healthy sex life, even some Mormons! So I could believe those numbers…

  44. Adults and teenagers curious about porn already know that they should not be watching it, and they probably already know why. I don’t agree that you’d need to hold “discussions about what they see in which images, lifestyles, and trends are contextualized.” Talking about pornography in broad terms, rather than frankly discussing the specific images they see (what, are you going to analyze a porno frame by frame?) isn’t a sign of prudishness or repression- it often just isn’t necessary to explain why pornography should never be watched. That type of frank, open discussion is also above the maturity of most young children, who may be better served by limiting their access, rather than explaining that mainstream pornography sells a distorted vision of physical appearance and performance and that it has the potential to exploit and degrade women.

    I also disagree that educating your children about sex will prevent them from seeking additional information from inappropriate sources. It’s natural for them to be curious, and despite the information you give them, they may want to learn more from a search engine.

    I think controlling access to pornography is a very effective method because it is often viewed casually, out of boredom or curiosity (I think impulsive viewing would be a much more common cause of watching than recession related job loss induced depression).

    Not treating sex as a taboo subject is a wonderful idea- but that doesn’t mean that placing your computer in the living room isn’t as well.

  45. Thomas Parkin says:

    Beware, sermon:

    The better scripture to quote would be Romans 5: where sin more abounds there grace also more abounds. We talk about this from every perspective except as one more part of the fulfilling process of the actual gospel (as opposed to the various mormonisms that we actually put our trust in.) What do we trust? Well, the gospel process is extended, and we hurt now, and are limited in our capacity now, but we are healed by and by.

    I’m against surveillance, on the whole. It is probably a good idea to put filters on computers that will be used by young children. However, not only is it impossible to watch over children as they grow, but if they have any spirit at all they will chafe against surveillance and will greatly prefer the freedom they find outside their home. Think what it may mean if home, instead of a place where your spirited youngster can come to live, is a place where he feels he must escape to live. They will want to be in an environment where they can breathe. We deprive them of this, and then refuse to be open and truthful, and then wonder why they go out in search of places where they can breathe, and where people tell them the truth. (I one time was listening to the opening bars of Yesterday, by the Beatles … yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away … and I thought, this is as true as anything I’ve ever heard, anywhere … no wonder there were so many hippies.)

    We misunderstand the companionship of the Holy Spirit that can cleanse us. We think that we must be free of sin in order to have that companionship. But rather it is the companionship that frees us, by and by, and what is required to have that companionship is to try from one’s most real place to keep the covenant and to ask for it and to try again when confronted by irony (because we will be tested in all things). This misunderstanding keeps us from genuinely offering those who sin (and that is all of us) the hope that the gospel brings. I sometimes assume it is because we haven’t experienced it ourselves. We’ve been told again and again that we can’t have the companionship of the Spirit if we are committing certain sins, and that is simply untrue – we qualify for that companionship each and every time we find ourselves in a place where we can recommit ourselves to the covenant.

    Use of pornography is one sin (actually there are many states associated with it that show our nature), but it is only one and not any harder to get out than, say, greed or blockheadedness on any given pet subject. But there are not stats showing how much greed we’ve got, so we don’t have three talks on the subject every GC.

    Talking about sex is good, and I’m all for openness, genuineness and frankness. But we generally don’t have the words, and probably not the experience, to tell what a blessing sex can be; likewise we don’t have the words to tell how destructive sex can be.

    Also, this is not a male problem. This is a human problem. The statistical variation doesn’t allow us to pretend that women only put up with porn. Whatever thoughts and ideas are associated with powerful sensations and emotions can dominate a person.

    God has placed boundaries to keep us safe as we grow, but he is not illiberal – not hateful or vengeful or disgusted with us. We are here to learn by our experience, and the process has been put in place where we can overcome the darker side of our experience, and the beginning of that process is, in fact the entire process can be subsumed in the words, belief in Christ.

    So have hope all you pron users. I’ve been one of you, I’m not afraid to talk about it. I’ve done worse than what you’ve done, I guarantee it. And I’m not cast off. Keep at it. No matter how many times you stumble, even if you keep stumbling your whole life. Keep bringing the Spirit into your life. Every time we are under the influence of Holy Spirit we are changed for the good. Sometimes we can feel it, reworking our personality, opening us up, teaching us, liberating us. Isn’t it awesome that we can partake of the Sacrament and hear those prayers every week. Although I still have rather dark parts of my personality, the wild thoughts escape, it no longer dominates me. For the most part, when they arise I can feel myself saying ‘that is not who you are, not what you are about.’ It is a drag, at times, but no longer an anchor. Righteousness doesn’t always look at the end what you thought it would be at the beginning – in so far as I know anything about it, it is much much better … happier, deeper, broader in its outlook, learning, expanding, searching and finding, liberated; I can see that it will be boundless.

    That’s my 2 cents.

  46. Peter LLC says:

    My kids have been bombarded with Word of Wisdom lessons for years, probably because they’re the simplest primary lesson to give. I’ve had no indication that “vilifying” alcohol consumption piqued their interest in the least…

    Though the story might have a different ending if “consuming” alchohol simply involved looking at it.

  47. Maybe I just need to get out more? Or, maybe how I define P-orn is too limited?
    Yes, I know it is there and not good for people. But I just don’t seem to run into it daily as some of you do. I just don’t see it as something that the average American male (or Mormon male), spends his day thinking about or looking at.
    Now football or a new car____ well, maybe(?)

  48. @41 Bob

    Sorry, Bob. The numbers are accurate. The scary thing is it’s not just happening in my Stake.

    Here is something to ponder…

    90% of the Priests in our Stake have actively looked for porn in the last year. I don’t know the numbers for Teachers – I’m sure it’s lower. Deacons are mostly unaffected at this stage, although I have dealt with an 11 year old addicted to porn. Very few of the parents of these YM know they struggle with porn from time to time. In fact, I only know of one parent that discovered their son’s secret.

    So far, I am not aware of a single YW in our stake that has porn issues. MB, yes, porn – no.

  49. #48: “90% of the Priests in our Stake have actively looked for porn in the last year”.
    Where did you get that 90% number? I doubt 90% of your Stakes Priests even ‘actively’ attend church.

  50. ClaudiaHen says:

    Thomas Parkin, that was beautiful. That is what I want my children to learn!

    As the wife to someone with a porn addiction, maybe if I understood that better, it wouldn’t have been so hurtful to learn of his addiction. I’ve come to know that God loves as we are right now in this moment, that nothing bars us from that love. Nothing is so sinful as to exclude us from it. My husband is not his addiction, just as none of us are our sins.

    I want my children to be protected as much as possible, but ultimately, they will stumble, and they have that choice. I cannot control them anymore than I can tell the wind which way to blow. Most of all, I want them to taste of His redeeming love, to know that they are never lost, to feel that they may always come to me and to the Lord and find forgiveness, healing, and drink of the living waters.

  51. @47 I agree that part of the issue is lack of a definition, I work in photography and am regularly exposed to images of artistic nudity, and find many of them beautiful. Does this mean I have an issue? I think we cause a problem by lumping it all into one category, our youth (and many adults) end up not understanding the difference.

    @48 based on absolutely no actual data but life experience I believe that while not to the same level, the issues do exist among our young women, they are just much less likely to confess to it. The young men are told to avoid it, but with a wink and a nudge that every guy does it, so just confess and it all goes away. Our young women are taught that righteous women don’t do those thing, that if they do there is something very wrong with them making them much less likely to confess to what they believe is a major failing on their part.

  52. @49 Bob – 90% of active Priests. These are real numbers.

    @51 – Our Young Men are also taught that righteous YM don’t use porn. We probably hit them up 4 to 6 times a year with morality/porn lessons.

    Young Women, unless they all lie, just don’t have anywhere near the same problem. Masturbation, though, is another story. We don’t find many problems with adult women in what all of us would define as porn. Sometimes I wonder if those steamy romance novels are their substitute.

    Anyhow, most men (and women) can have a porn problem AND have the spirit with them (depending on circumstances). I see it all the time. When wives find out their husbands have a porn addiction they are often hurt by the fact they didn’t pick up on it – they say the spirit is in their homes and they had no idea this was happening.

  53. #52: familysafemedia.com/pornography_statistics.
    This is a good link on how much internet P-orn there is.
    I still don’t understand your 90%#.

  54. I didn’t see anything on that site that refutes my numbers… but I guess it would not matter.

    My numbers come from asking the youth straight up – “When was the last time that you looked at pornography?”

    Note – I did not ask if they have a problem or if they look at it. Very few YM answer never. Once I started asking the question in this manner everyone, youth and MP holders alike opened up. I then compare my numbers to other bishops in the stake as well as pass my numbers along to the stake pres. Stake wide, our numbers are what I shared above.

    Certainly there are variables that come into play. Someone that looks at soft core porn is lumped in with someone who masturbates once a day to porn – two very different problems, but they both impact the wife (or parent) with the same level of hurt. At least at first.

  55. Tomas Parkin, that was beautiful. “we qualify for that companionship each and every time we find ourselves in a place where we can recommit ourselves to the covenant” Oh so true, so true.

    I think sometimes my home is a place my 14 year old would like to “escape to live,” as you said. And yet, there are also times when home is a haven, where he can let down his guard and not have to compete/talk smack with his friends, and the restrictions in our home are a part of that space too. No X-box/computer in the kitchen etc are restrictions and and blessings both.

    Lately I wonder about the premise here that there is a way to parent that is optimal. Can we have homes that will be all things? Is it helpful to try believe in a magic bullet way to parent that will do it all–associated with every parenting choice that are advantages and disadvantages. (Speaking of course of legit approaches, not abusive ones. And not meaning that the attempt to parent better is a futile one.)

    For example when it comes to dating and all, my son hangs out with lots of girls. And that’s good–he has learned to be real friends with women and sees them more as his equals than many of the other church boys his age. But will he skate on the no-dating until 16 edge more too, and maybe get in over his head more? Probably.

    Likewise, more restrictive parenting approaches to pron probably will prevent more access/exposure. And will they also create more shame? Probably that too. And more talk- and- contextualize- and- let- them- have- an- i-touch parenting approaches probably will lead to more exposure but perhaps fewer sex-is-dirty hangups.

    I just don’t think there is a way to get all of the advantages of an approach and none of the disadvantages. And I wonder if sometimes the idea that we through our own efforts can keep our children safe isn’t somehow one that negates the need for a savior. Again, I don’t mean we shouldn’t try to be better parents than we are. But I just wonder at the idea that we have to do xyz to be legitimized is parents isn’t damaging.

  56. #14: The number 14% of non-Mormons 18-24 year olds view internet P-orn is on the site I gave. If true, then the Church’s Programs ends with 90% of it’s boys viewing some type of p-orn, is something I don’t understand.

  57. Not #14 but #54.

  58. 36, 39, 42–thanks!

    Putting the computer in a frequented, open place helps. Is it *the* answer? I don’t think so (does anyone?). But I know that “talking about sex” isn’t *the* answer, either. As KC said, the better the defenses, the better the chances.

    Regarding the BY quote (8), I believe there is a much deeper need for understanding, timing, judgment, and context than just “the quote”. There are things I study now that I wouldn’t approve my children learning.

    I don’t understand how the conclusion “90% of the Priests in our Stake *have actively looked for porn* in the last year” come from the question “When was the last time that you *looked at* pornography?” I’m seeing two very different perspectives here. In Italy even years ago, accidentally viewing pornography was at least monthly for about everyone (it was all over the city walls). I have looked at pornography within the past year, too–for about two seconds (alas, probably one more second than necessary, I am repenting), when I typed in .org instead of .com for an address. So, I have a hard time believing those numbers. (BTW, I have found all kinds of numbers claimed by all kinds of bloggers and boards all over when discussing this issue…) If you were to ask them, “When was the last time you sought out pornography?” or such, I wonder what the numbers would be.

    I believe that “steamy romance novels” et. al. (“soft porn”, which I believe is worse than “hard porn” sometimes)–does take the place of “porn” for many church women (even though much of it is porn).

    I’m wondering how much better results–if any–the Church would get if there were a more down-to-earth attitude/ discussion about pornography, premarital sex, etc.–not just from a “spiritual” perspective, but from many more perspectives, too.

  59. Bob 57 you misread the chart I think. it is that of all adult porn viewers, 14% are 18-24. Fi you scroll up to Children Internet Pron users, it says 90% of 8-16 year old have viewed it online, and 80% of 15-17 year olds have multiple hard core exposures. Since that counts girls, I assume, in the total, getting to 90% in the last year seems not too hard.

    That said, I have no idea how valid these numbers are anyway. But it ain’t 14%

  60. #59: You could {likely are} right. But I am also a believer there are ‘lies, damn lies, and statistics’. I was a teenager in the 60s. I doubt anyone one of us had not seen a Playboy Center Fold.
    What scares me? I have 3 teenage grandsons across the street from me. They often come to talk with me (not about sex), but knowing I was in the Marines at 17, how they can become Marine Snipers. This is from playing Computer War Games.

  61. Bob, your fear/dislike of the violence in video games is understandable, and worth discussing, but probably on another thread.
    The point of this thread is what works/doesn’t work in preventing the spread of reliance on porn by children/young adults, and the corruption of healthy sexual attitudes that porn can cause. You’ve stated several times that your teenage grandsons looking at porn doesn’t concern you as much as the violence in video games. Thats fine, but you should be aware of the fact that statistically speaking, it would be an anomoly that none of your grandsons had *actively* looked at porn. And if they’re looking at porn online, they’re not seeing the Playboy centerfolds of the 1960s which were, frankly speaking, rather tame. But they’ve probably seen stuff that is extremely vivid and explicit – at least. And possibly stuff that is either violent, degrading, or otherwise corruptive.

  62. #61: “you should be aware of the fact that statistically speaking, it would be an anomoly that none of your grandsons had *actively* looked at porn”.
    Please direct me to that statistic. I know of my friends who have of died bullets, and have died of drugs. I think I know my grandsons. But I may be wrong.

  63. Couldn’t agree more with this post. Focusing on the location of the device or the restriction of the medium is completely missing the root cause of the problem, and represents limited and solutions that are not bound to last or even work for that matter.

    Focusing on the root cause of any given problem is the only true and effective way to begin the journey of finding a real and appropriate solution.

    Kudos for this post. Seems like some people are still in need of waking up.

  64. Bob – If your grandsons are in my Stake they would be an anomaly if they had not actively looked for porn in the last year. Very few YM will share this kind of stuff with their parents (grandparents?). I make it a point to tell every young man (and YW) that unless they are doing something that is physically risky/dangerous or illegal I will not tell their parents. If they are having sexual intercourse I work with them so that they will tell their parents – not me. So far, it seems easier for YM to tell parents they have had sex than to tell them they have a porn problem.

  65. 62 – Alright, statistics and probability.
    according to your website 90% of kids 8-16 had viewed porn. With three teenagers you have a (1/10)x(1/10)x(1/10) chance that none of your boys have seen porn or 1/1000. But that could be inadvertant.
    same website – 80% of 15-17yr olds had viewed MULTIPLE HARD-CORE EXPOSURES 1/125 that none of your boys have viewed multiple hardcore exposures. This still doesn’t demonstrate intent, but its much less likely that someone is inadvertantly seeing hardcore material multiple times.

    Now for intent – if you scroll down halfway on this website you find this
    •More than one-third of 16- and 17-year-old boys surveyed said they had intentionally visited X-rated sites in the past year. Among girls the same age, 8 percent had done so. (Wolak, Janis, et al. “Unwanted and Wanted Exposure to Online Pornography in a National Sample of Youth Internet Users.” Pediatrics 119 (2007); 247-25.)

    Following those numbers (2/3)x(2/3)x(2/3), there is a 8/27 (30%) chance that none of your three boys will have ACTIVELY sought out x-rated (hardcore – not just nudity) content in the last year (or will have by their 17th birthday).
    And that was 2007 statistics, three years (and many fancy mobile devices) ago.

    If I’m not mistaken, these numbers skyrocket after ages 17/18.

    so, perhaps anomoly was too strong of a word, but abnormality would be fitting.

    Thats not to say you don’t know your grandsons. Theres lots my parents don’t know about me, and we still have a very close relationship.