How would you feel if your seven-year-old told you that he is having nightmares and stomach aches about some pictures he saw on the school bus last week? What would you say? What would you do? Wouldn’t you wish you could have somehow kept those pictures out of his mind?
Kristen Jenson and Gail Poyner want to help you do just that with Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids. In this read-aloud book a mother talks with her seven-year-old about “bad” pictures, pictures or videos or cartoons of people wearing skimpy clothes or no clothes at all. She talks about how pictures like this can “trick” his mind and make him keep on looking even when he doesn’t want to, or even when the pictures upset him. She explains that he has a “feeling” brain and a “thinking” brain, and that in order to keep his brain healthy he needs to be sure his thinking brain is always in charge. His dad talks with him about making good choices today.
The book ends with a CAN DO plan for developing an “internal filter”:
Close my eyes immediately when I come across pornography.
Always tell a trusted adult.
Name it when I see it. Say quietly, but out loud, “That’s pornography!”
Distract myself with something different that is positive, interesting, or requires physical effort.
Order my thinking brain to be the boss.
Are you thinking that seven years old is way too young to be talking about pornography? Jenson and Debbie Fox have now written Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr. for 3-6 year-olds! Children need to develop this “internal filter” when they first begin using the Internet. Internet filters are helpful. Insisting that your child use the computer only in an open area where you can keep an eye on the screen is good. But you can’t always be with your children; they need this internal filter. They can best develop it while they are young, while they still see you, their parents, as credible sources of information.
The book is filled with “good” pictures, pictures showing happy families having fun together, to emphasize the difference from “bad” pictures. We are reminded of the Apostle Paul’s “…whatever is pure, whatever is commendable…think about these things” (Philippians 4:8).
Although this book is written in very simple terms that can be understood by young children, the research behind it is solid. It gives you the information you need to talk with your older children and teens, your students, your counselees, or your youth group. The book also talks about addiction, includes a glossary of key terms and a list of recommended readings, and recommends organizations and websites, including Jenson’s own Protect Young Minds.