What are your kids watching?
Posted on September 29 2019
Sooooooooo, if you were watching my stories a few weeks ago, you know that I finished reading and censoring the 1138 page book “It” by Stephen King.
Because Hana (my 14-year-old daughter) had been asking to read it for the past year. Asking ever since the first remake of the movie “It” came out in 2017. I had read the novel when I was younger (not as young) and knew that it had bad words and graphic sex scenes, I didn’t remember them exactly but knew that I would need to edit the novel before letting Hana read it.
Because I am the kind of mom that screens everything my kids watch or read. I have tv channels blocked on my cable box, computer restrictions and no cellphones until they get to university.
Because one of the number one illnesses our young generation is facing is addiction to pornography. And it comes from the completely easy access to porn. Would you be surprised if I told you that most parents have no clue?
Did you know that most kids will have accessed pornography by the age of 8?
There are those people that will debate how being so restrictive will turn my kids into rebels, or that they need to be exposed so that they can make their own choices. You know what I think? On the Day of Judgement, when I stand in front of Allah (SWT), will I be able to say that I did everything I could to protect my kids? Or will I say, I allowed those who control the media outlets to determine what is considered appropriate for my children? That the rating systems for movies and tv shows know better than our Sunnah what is acceptable for my kids watch.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying not to talk to your kids about “taboo” subjects, or explain things happening in our society. Of course, I’m not stupid and I know that my kids will get exposed to information one way or another. But I want them to hear about it from me first. To be prepared on how to deal with these subjects from our discussions. And to know what to do if they come across this material, whether its something they watch, read or hear. And I know no system will ever be 100% censorship. But something is better than nothing. I don’t want them to be exposed to it and use the excuse, I didn’t know. In this time and age, information is so accessible to us parents that there really is no reason that we keep our heads in the sand hoping that our kids will be ok.
When non-Muslim agencies are identifiying the huge pandemic of pornography addictions happening in our communities, we have to wake up and recognize how every person has to do their part to protect our kids (and ourselves) from this billion dollar industry.
Want to know what I do to help protect my kids?
1. I screen all movies on the website www.kidsinmind.com. This site gives exact details of sex and nudity, violence and profanity. So you can decide what is suitable for your family, or maybe what you will allow an older child to watch, verses a younger one.
2. Another great resource is the website www.commonsensemedia.org where you can screen most tv shows, movies, books and video games (yes, lots of video games have sex and/or nudity in them, such as Grand Theft Auto).
3. I have most channels on my cable box locked and rating restricted. You can access your parental controls and lock the channels you want and restrict shows based on their ratings, Teen, Mature, etc. You can screen specific shows and have a list of allowed shows your kids can watch alone and others that they can watch with you. This way, as they get older they can watch more relevant shows that their friends might be watching, but you have created a culture of family watching and discussion. Definitely, there will be shows that their friends are watching or even movies that they want to go to, and you will be able to discuss with your children on why these shows/movies don’t match our family values and what alternate options there are.
4. I have a buddy system for computer use. Same as a swimming buddy, my kids need to have a computer buddy when they use the computer. And all computer use must happen in the dinette or family room where the rest of the family can see what they are doing.
5. Want to track your kids computer use? There are great softwares out there, such as www.Securly.com that can help restrict or log your kids access.
6. I have talked to my kids about internet safety many times. Similar to a fire drill, we have a family internet safety drill. we call it CAT. If you see something bad on the computer, immediately Close it, Ask an adult for help, and Talk about what you saw. And of course, we have discussed how it is not their fault if something bad comes up on the computer.
7. Gaming sites and anime are usually gateways to pornography, so those must only be accessed with a parent.
So what should you do if you find out that your kids have accessed pornography?
Or maybe are even addicted? First, know that this is a test from Allah (SWT) and that we are humans who err by nature. Never shame them or react in a negative way that will make them never come to you for help ever again. Addictions are illnesses and we need care and love to help cure them. In fact, pornography is considered the newest drug.
By the way, this advice I am giving will also help a spouse or yourself if you are addicted. Because it is such a common addiction affecting a large segment of all societies, including the Muslim one. In fact, if you search up the top countries accessing porn, the top three are almost always Muslim countries. So what do we do if someone we love is addicted to porn? We tell them that we love them and want to help them. Tell them that Allah (SWT) loves those who repent and seek His help.
We treat it as an addiction and help them find support from great resources available. Purifyyourgaze.com provides a Muslim-based porn addiction rehab program. There are also other resources, such as fightthenewdrug.org.
And of course make lots of dua to Allah (SWT) to protect us and help cure us of any illnesses and weaknesses we have. Ameen