The Red Light District in Your 8-Year-Old’s Room

I was innocently looking through a harmless hashtag category on Instagram the other day when some nude images suddenly assaulted me. Shocked by the pornographic images that suddenly appeared on my phone, I immediately clicked off and wondered what in the world had happened.

I wasn’t searching for porn. I wasn’t even dabbling in a questionable category. I was searching inside a hashtag as innocent as the word #texas. Then, before I knew what was happening, pornographic images of women started filling my screen.

red light district

“What in the world!” I said out loud to myself, while quickly clicking away. After a few seconds of shock, I decided to report each image to Instagram as being “sexually explicit,” hoping to have them removed before another innocent person stumbled across them.

Thankfully, as a female adult who wants nothing to do with porn, these images were nothing more than saddening to me. However, if I had been an eight-year-old boy or girl, the scenario may have ended very differently.

Whether we like it or not, we live in an age where pornography lurks around every online corner…even the most seemingly innocent ones.

Easy Access to the Red Light District

Not too many years ago you would have had to venture out of your house and down to the red light district to access such women. Not anymore. The red light district is no longer confined to one area of town–it’s everywhere. It’s one click away on any browser, and a few clicks away within almost every app.

I was chatting with a mom the other day who has several younger children. As we talked about kids and cell phones she was shocked when I told her about the potential dangers of “innocent” apps like Instagram.

“My younger kids use that app all the time,” she said with wide eyes. “I had no idea porn could even be accessed on that app.”

Many well-meaning parents have the same mindset as this mom. They want what’s best for their kids, they’re just unaware of how highly sexualized our culture has become. They assume they have a handle on things but are naively in the dark about what their child is being exposed to. With cell phones, tablets, and computers being given to kids at younger and younger ages, the statistics for children being exposed to porn consistently increases.

One study found that 93% of boys and 62% of girls were exposed to online pornography during their adolescence.

What makes matters even worse are the apps and programs that appear completely innocent, but are intentionally designed to conceal sexualized content. The popular calculator app called “KYMS” is one of them. It looks and functions like a normal calculator. However, by typing in the correct number code, you can access a hidden photo and note storage folder for all of your naughty photos.

That app and others like it are widely used amongst teens and are growing more and more common each year. If you have teens or young children, I highly encourage you to read this helpful article: 7 Dangerous Apps that Parents Need to Know About.

Parents Make a Huge Difference

If you have a young child or children in your home who have access to any sort of technology device with wifi, please don’t be in the dark about how easy it is to stumble across porn. I can’t encourage you enough to take the following two steps:

1. Don’t be afraid to be “that parent” who puts filters and protection programs on your child’s phone and computer. Even if your child isn’t searching for porn, they could innocently stumble upon it without proper filters in place. Covenant Eyes is high on my list for recommended filters. Regardless of which program you choose to use, just please use something.

2. Beat your child to their sex education. Don’t let the culture and pornography inform your child about sex. Be proactive (as awkward as it may feel) and teach your child about God’s amazing design for sex. Explain why God created sexual intimacy and why it’s best enjoyed within the context of marriage alone. Explain God’s plan for purity and how it’s a battle they’re going to have to choose to fight.

As a parent, it’s impossible to safeguard your child from every inappropriate thing, however, you can do a lot to minimize their sexual blows. Don’t allow the red light district to creep into your child’s room unknowingly. Be proactive. Be alert. Keep the conversation open.


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