Pornography is never more than three clicks away.
I recently heard that frightening statistic! Research proves that when on your computer or phone, pornography lingers close. That would explain why many innocent children who are searching for harmless jokes or Frozen characters stumble upon pornography. It’s sad, sickening, and a reality that we cannot ignore.
I would surmise, however, that on social media inappropriate content is much closer than simply three clicks.
Recently a friend posted a photo of her special needs child on Instagram with a hashtag of her child’s disease. Knowing she placed it there to bring about awareness, I clicked the hashtag to see other’s who might struggle with this same issue. Someone posted a photo of a baby with the condition along with a derogatory comment. Finding it hard to believe anyone would post such an insensitive picture, I clicked on the person’s profile. Big mistake! Their page was full of disturbing photos — many of which included nude bodies. My eyes lingered no more than 2 seconds, but I was physically disturbed and disgusted by what I had seen. I was even more concerned that, despite my phone being set to “limit adult content” those images were visible. What if my children had been sitting next to me? Or my husband? Yes, the fault was mine for clicking, but it was confirmation that dangerous content is close.
I feel called to focus this week’s writings on social media. A few days ago, I wrote about social media accountability from the perspective of my weaknesses: vanity, pride, people pleasing, and comparisons. Today, however, I am branching out and sharing words of caution about some of the temptations that can wreak havoc on our marriages that are merely a click away.
It seems that even with filters present, social media provides loopholes that allow pornography to be easily accessed or viewed. Social media also can provide temptation for your mind to wander about a person other than your spouse, even if there isn’t anything inappropriate in their profile. Here are just a few of the ways we need to exercise discernment and awareness when it comes to social media:
- Someone else’s profile – You can be careful about the things you post, but you have no control over what other’s that you follow will post. Perhaps a friend from work with different morals posts an inappropriate picture or links to a raunchy video. The reality that no one can control what stories shows up in their newsfeed is important to keep in mind when considering family safety. Inappropriate material aside, being friends/following countless people, leaves opportunities for your mind to wander and provides many opportunities to “unintentionally” hide things from your spouse. To my knowledge, except for browsing the history on your computer, there is not a record of whose profile you view. Having passwords to each other’s accounts is good, but it doesn’t always tell the whole story which is something to keep in mind.
- Suggested or Sponsored Pages – Almost all of the major social media outlets suggest pages or run sponsored ads. Coming from someone who has occasionally sponsored content, I understand why these ads appear. Again, however, there is a level of uncertainty that comes with realizing no one is in complete control of the content visible on social media.
- Hashtags – Hashtags can be fun, but they can also be dangerous. They allow easy access to find things inappropriate (even on Pinterest!) or, as my story above, bring profiles into eyesight that would otherwise not be seen.
- People Who Want to Promote Pornography – there are those who try to lure you to their website by promoting and sharing pornography through social media. I have had followers on Twitter and Instagram that I immediately had to block. Some spammers try to hack accounts to leave rabbit trails. And, sadly, there are people who post inappropriate pictures of themselves and tag the photo with a trending hashtag. I remember clicking a hashtag about remembering the 90s, and as I was enjoying some of the throwbacks… all of a sudden, there was a penis on my screen.
The ease of being able to search and find unholy images concerns me, but so does the volatile nature of social media. It is always changing, and people are coming up with new ways to push their content through. It is impossible for filters to be our only line of defense.
Please hear me out, I’m not saying we should throw our computers out the window and revert to Zack Morris type cell phones (I hope I didn’t date myself with that example). Social media has its benefits. Positive and encouraging messages exist throughout social media, and I desire my pages to be beneficial and uplifting. Even though good and holy content is in abundance, we cannot ignore the threat to our marriages and children that lies in wait behind a simple click. We must be aware and on-guard for the sake of our marriages and children! We must have vulnerable, grace-filled conversations regularly with our spouse to help keep these threats at bay. Remember, it is not our husband’s (or our own) carnal nature that is the problem, nor is it social media or technology’s fault. The Devil wants to kill, steal, and destroy. He roams around like a hungry lion looking for someone to devour. This, as with many things, is a spiritual problem. Being mindful, proactive, and prayerful as we trust in the One True God is the best defense we have.
How to do you safeguard your social media activities?