This Associated Press story reports the problems that some parents are having with their children blogging, and the importance of setting rules for appropriate use of the Internet.
As Latter-day Saints we should follow prophetic counsel on child rearing and Internet usage. Just last October President Hinckley spoke at some length in General Conference about the dangers to all of us, especially children, on the Internet. Among other things he said:
This is not the only letter I have received. There have been enough that I am convinced this is a very serious problem even among us. It arises from many sources and expresses itself in a variety of ways. Now it is compounded by the Internet. That Internet is available not only to adults but also to young people.I recently read that pornography has become a $57 billion industry worldwide. Twelve billion of this is derived in the United States by evil and “conspiring men” (See D&C 89:4) who seek riches at the expense of the gullible. It is reported that it produces more revenue in the United States than the “combined revenues of all professional football, baseball and basketball franchises or the combined revenues of ABC, CBS, and NBC” (Internet Pornography Statistics: 2003).
It robs the workplace of the time and talents of employees. “20% of men admit accessing pornography at work. 13% of women [do so]. … 10% of adults admit having internet sexual addiction” (Internet Pornography Statistics: 2003). That is their admission, but actually the number may be much higher.
The National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families states that “approximately 40 million people in the United States are sexually involved with the Internet. …
“One in five children ages 10-17 [has] received a sexual solicitation over the Internet. …
“Three million of the visitors to adult websites in September 2000 were age 17 or younger. …
“Sex is the number 1 topic searched on the Internet” (Current Statistics).
I might go on, but you, too, know enough of the seriousness of the problem. Suffice it to say that all who are involved become victims. Children are exploited, and their lives are severely damaged. The minds of youth become warped with false concepts. Continued exposure leads to addiction that is almost impossible to break. Men, so very many, find they cannot leave it alone. Their energies and their interests are consumed in their dead-end pursuit of this raw and sleazy fare.
The excuse is given that it is hard to avoid, that it is right at our fingertips and there is no escape.
Suppose a storm is raging and the winds howl and the snow swirls about you. You find yourself unable to stop it. But you can dress properly and seek shelter, and the storm will have no effect upon you.
Likewise, even though the Internet is saturated with sleazy material, you do not have to watch it. You can retreat to the shelter of the gospel and its teaching of cleanliness and virtue and purity of life.
I know that I am speaking directly and plainly. I do so because the Internet has made pornography more widely accessible, adding to what is available on DVDs and videos, on television and magazine stands. It leads to fantasies that are destructive of self-respect. It leads to illicit relationships, often to disease, and to abusive criminal activity.
Public awareness of blogging is greater today than it was last October. And it is reasonable to assume that dangerous material will be as prevalent among blogs as on other websites. Many children are blogging, and parents need to closely supervise them to make sure they aren’t getting into serious trouble.
My children are now grown, and have left home. So I no longer have a responsibility to supervise their use of the Internet. But if I had life to live over, I would do some things differently in my own home for the protection of my children. The Internet is a marvelous tool, but it can be used for evil as well as good. And our children are more vulnerable than we think.