This parent* had experienced an unfortunate, and largely preventable situation in their home. Their oldest child, age 4, had found the ON DEMAND menu on the cable system and went exploring. They then accidentally found the ADULT section, selected a porn flick, and watched all or part of it.
We might snicker, but the scenes that the child saw created a great deal of fear, distress, & tears according to the parent. At it’s best, sex can appear violent to a small child. They don’t understand what is going on. At its worst, SEX IS VIOLENT AND DISTURBING!
This parent knew they had a problem and a question: “How do you do damage control with a 4 year old”?
Well, the first thing we have to do is to make sure that this does not happen, again. The way to do this is not to throw the TV or Cable Box out the window! (That’s another discussion altogether!) Instead, parents need to make sure that their cable box has a parental control code set up. This is, usually, a 4-digit code, or PIN (just like your ATM), that you punch in to “authorize” the viewing of restricted material, such as programs rated R, TV-MA, NC-17, and ADULT.
Without this code a child cannot access “mature content” on ANY channel. This code is also used to approve the purchase of Pay Per View (PPV) products such as recent movies, sporting events, or adult movies.
The procedures for setting these codes vary from provider to provider and, sometimes, from cable box to cable box. If you are not sure how to set this, call Customer Support and they will be glad to walk you through it. Or, if you don’t want to deal with a robo-phone, just visit your cable provider’s web site and search on PARENTAL CONTROLS
- DO NOT USE a sequence of numbers such as 1-2-3-4 or 7-6-5-4.
- DO NOT USE a repeated number, such as 1-1-1-1 or 7-7-7-7.
- DO NOT USE your ATM PIN number (your child might know that one, for various reasons).
- DO NOT USE your birthday or anniversary (kids ain’t dumb, y’know?).
- DO USE a number you can remember.
- DO CHANGE the code every so often.
Another consideration is for couples to assure each other that they are not watching objectionable content, or blowing the budget with PPV movies and events.. One way to do that is to “split” the code. The husband has 2 digits, and the wife has 2 digits.
Don’t forget to make sure the same code works on ALL cable boxes in the house. Depending on the system used, you might have to have different codes for different DVRs, but that is a minority of cases.
Having done that, you still have one more thing to do:
DEAL WITH WHAT THE CHILD SAW!
No, I don’t mean grounding them. They are not “at fault”.
But, we do have to deal with the child’s reaction to what they saw, and we have to redirect that reaction along Godly paths.
Typically, parents will respond this way:
- “What they (the people in the movie) are doing is WRONG!“
- “That is NASTY!“
- “Don’t you EVER watch that kind of stuff, ever!”
- “That is so SINFUL!“
The problem is, parents say these types of things in the context of being ADULTS, and knowing exactly what they do and do not mean. The child does not understand all that the parent is saying. They DO, however, absorb two lessons…”loud and clear!!!”
- Sex is bad/nasty/dirty/sinful, and
- Don’t EVER bring this stuff up with the parental units!! They will flip out!
In other words, the frustrated and befuzzled parents send a huge negative message about something God intends to be a positive. That can shape, and deform, a child’s adult view of sex and have a significant impact in later years. Satan can, and WILL, use this.
When confronted by this, and similar, situations parents need to make sure that their reaction does not send a non-Biblical message. We do not want to send any kind of message that: SEX IS BAD. Sex is one of God’s designs for Humanity, and God does not design bad things. He does, however, place boundaries on His designs and THAT is our starting point in dealing with children in this and similar situations. We need to respond in these ways:
- What was going on in the movie you saw is called “SEX”. When you are old enough, we’ll talk more about the details.
- Sex is something wonderful that God designed, but He designed it to only be safe between husbands and wives.
- Sex is a PRIVATE thing between husbands and wives, otherwise it becomes unsafe.
- Sex outside of marriage is NOT SAFE, and is sinful.
- What was in the video was sinful because those people were not staying within God’s BOUNDARIES.
- Even if those people were married, it was a sin for them to “share” with others by showing the video.
- When you are READY (or old enough), we will explain more to you, just like well teach you to drive when you are old enough for that, too. Trust Mommy and Daddy to know when that is.
- But, you can come to Mommy and Daddy any time with questions, and we will give you answers appropriate for you.
Those types of responses clearly label the activities the child was exposed to as “SIN“, but without painting a negative picture of sex, itself. Instead, the sin is identified as a Godly activity being practiced outside of God’s boundaries! Therein lies the sin!
ONE LAST WORD: The PIN needs to be set on your cable boxes regardless of the age of your children. These parents thoughts their 4 year-old was safe. Many parents have not realized that sitters and older children can be threats, and that baby sitters can go places they shouldn’t, also, either on the TV or on the Internet.
*Names and genders neutralized for privacy reasons.
What are your thoughts? How do YOU think we should respond?
Let us know by leaving a comment!
Check out these other popular posts:
- DON’T TRUST THAT REMOTE!!! (More about TV dangers!)
- Is Your Church/Staff CYBER-SAFE? Part I Introduction
- Is Your Church/Staff CYBER-SAFE? Part II: Implementation
- Is Your Church/Staff CYBER-SAFE? Part III: Recovery
- Marriage, Sex, & the Pistachio Principle
- …Because What’s On The Internet Even Grosses Out the HOOKERS!!!
- Why Viewing Porn Is Like Visiting The Food Court At The Mall!
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