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Kristen Jenson

Episode 66

Kristen Jenson

Organization Founder, CEO, & Author

In this episode of Consider Before Consuming, we talk with Kristen Jenson, the Founder and CEO of Defend Young Minds (DYM). DYM is an organization dedicated to empowering children to be resilient and screen-smart by developing online safety tools for parents, professionals, and community leaders. Kristen is the author of “Good Pictures Bad Pictures,” a book used by people around the world to facilitate healthy and age-appropriate conversations with kids about porn. Listen to Kristen talk with podcast host, Garrett Jonsson, about when to start talking to your kids about porn, and how to most effectively and lovingly approach that conversation.
Learn more about Defend Young Minds and find Kristen’s book “Good Pictures Bad Pictures” at defendyoungminds.com.

FROM THIS EPISODE
EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

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Garrett Jonsson: My name is Garrett Jonsson, and you’re listening to Consider Before Consuming, uh, podcast by Fight the New Drug. And in case you’re new here Fight the New Drug is a non and religious and non legislative organization that exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness on its harmful effects, using only science facts and personal accounts.

We want these conversations to be educational, uplifting, and hopeful. As we sit down with experts, influencers, activists, and people with personal accounts, we cover a wide variety of topics that may be triggering to some. You can refer to the episode notes for a specific trigger warning listener discretion is advised. Today’s episode is with Kristen Jenson, the founder, and CEO of Defend Young Minds and organization dedicated to empowering children to become resilient and screen-smart. Kristen is also a mother and a grandmother, so she knows how important it is to raise competent kids. During this conversation we talk about when to start talking to your kids about pornography and how to most effectively navigate that discussion. With that being said, let’s jump into the conversation. We hope you enjoy this episode of consider before consuming.

Well, Kristen, we appreciate you joining us on the podcast today. Thanks for being here.

Kristen Jenson: It’s great to be with you, Garrett.

Garrett Jonsson: We feel fortunate because I don’t know if you know this, Kristen, but I also get to do some presentations. And one of the types of presentations that we do is we do like a community event where we go and speak to like junior highs, high schools, and colleges. But then also in addition to those, we do a community event where parents and other caregivers from the community come, and I want to mention that during those community events, almost every time, I don’t wanna say every time, but almost every time they mention people in the audience without me prompting them, they mention your books.

Kristen Jenson: [laughter] Good pictures, bad pictures.

Garrett Jonsson: Yep.

Kristen Jenson: Yeah. And that’s awesome.

Garrett Jonsson: As I was preparing for the conversation, I realized that you live in Washington, is that correct?

Kristen Jenson: Yep.

Garrett Jonsson: And I was actually just in Washington and again, people were you during the, the presentation, so,

Kristen Jenson: Oh, where were you?

Garrett Jonsson: I was in Walla Walla.

Kristen Jenson: Oh, that’s not far from where I am.

Garrett Jonsson: Well, …

Kristen Jenson: I should, I wish I’d known. I could have, I could have come out and seen you.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah, I wish I would’ve known that would’ve been awesome, but yeah, we were in Walla Walla and during the community event against someone was asking, uh, or I guess I asking, but they were suggesting that one of the resources they love using is Good Pictures Bad Pictures, and Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr. So I, I just wanted to mention that because it’s, we feel fortunate to have you on the podcast and I know a lot of our listeners are gonna benefit from your wisdom and knowledge. So thank you.

Kristen Jenson: Oh, it’s great to be here.

Garrett Jonsson: I think it’s important for the listener to better understand who you are. And so I know that you have an undergrad in English and you also got a master’s degree, is that correct?

Kristen Jenson: Yes. I have a master’s degree in organizational communication, which is kind of a fancy way of saying training and development. So I learned how to develop training programs for adults in, in a corporate setting. I used that for a few years, professionally and then, uh, but it gave me actually a lot of good foundations in just how people learn.

Garrett Jonsson: Right.

Kristen Jenson: So that’s actually been helpful to me.

Garrett Jonsson: That’s awesome. And in addition to the academics that you’ve earned those accomplishments, you’ve also raised children and now you have grandchildren, is that correct?

Kristen Jenson: I do. I have two grandsons, uh, ages… the oldest one is three going on four and we’ve been reading him. Good pictures, Bad pictures Jr since he was two. So…

Garrett Jonsson: That’s awesome. And how, how is it being a grandma? What’s your favorite part?

Kristen Jenson: [laughter] Oh, what’s my favorite part is just spoiling them and uh, then, uh, giving them to their parents and going home and sleeping through the night.

Garrett Jonsson: Yep. It’s a cliche answer, but it’s the truth.

Kristen Jenson: I know, but it’s so true. Yep.

Garrett Jonsson: I feel the same way. I mean, I have kids and so I can, I, I, I hope to be a grandpa someday who knows if that will happen, but I hope to be. And I think that will be, I think I will agree with you. That will be the benefit.

Kristen Jenson: Well, it is wonderful. The wonderful thing about grandparents is that they have been through a lot of life experience and they no longer, they’ve kind ripped off their rose colored glasses.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Kristen Jenson: And so many things that can happen have happened either to them or to their friends and when it comes to pornography… I, I didn’t see this coming, but many grandparents follow us and have bought the books for their kids. To help their grandkids. And we get emails saying, “I wanna give this to my daughter and how do I make sure that she reads it?” And I’m like, “well, you really can’t.” But you know, you can just suggest and love them. And, and so grandparent, and they’re not because there’s a little bit of distance. They can see more objectively in some ways, because as parents, I mean, I remember when my kids were young, I did not want to think that my kids could ever get, have any problems, uh, or get into any troubles because of course I was gonna be the perfect parent [laughter] and well, I was not the perfect parent and, um, the nice thing. So parents do have that responsibility to educate and raise their children, but grandparents can help.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Kristen Jenson: And so it, it’s nice when grandparents can be involved.

Garrett Jonsson: Right. Well, that’s really cool. And that’s really cool that yeah. A lot of grandparents from all over the world are buying your book. It’s really awesome.

Kristen Jenson: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: So speaking of caregivers and there’s many different types of caregivers, we’ve named a couple during this conversation, we talked about parenting and then grandparenting, but there’s a lot of other types of caregivers there. And they say that, you know, the phrase, “it takes a village.” And I think that nowadays it takes more than a village. And what I mean by that is that it takes a village and a Google search for, you know, Good Pictures Bad Pictures. And I say that tongue in cheek, but also it’s based in reality that, yeah, that’s the case that it does take a village. And it also does take a lot of good, uh, tools and resources and Defend Young Minds is definitely one of the people or one of the organizations I should say, that are producing these tools to be utilized, to help raise resilient, smart, competent kids.

Kristen Jenson: Right. We, we want to help parents. In fact, that’s our tagline empowered, resilient, screen-smart kids.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Kristen Jenson: That’s, that’s the result we want.

Garrett Jonsson: So I have to ask the question, how did you end up authoring books?

Kristen Jenson: Well, I’ll tell you, I actually never wanted to get involved in, you know, fighting pornography or anything like that. Uh, it, it, it just was one of those things. I mean, I’d heard about it. I had, you know, friends who were therapists and I knew about addiction, but one day after we moved, uh, to Eastern Washington, I met a woman. She had a large family, she was homeschooling them because she wanted to protect them from, you know, the dangers out in the world. She herself had been a, um, had been a victim or a survivor of sexual abuse. And she didn’t want that for her kids. So she wanted to protect them. But of course they had the internet and, uh, other influences and their oldest son, they found out that he was, uh, acting out sexually on his younger brothers and sisters, the 14 year old, all the way down to the four year old.

And one night we were talking and she told me about this sad story and the fallout from all of it. And I woke up the next morning and I just had this kind of pulsating thought in my brain. It was like, you know, how do you warn the young children? Because you know, pornography had been involved in all of this. And I could see that young children were getting access to pornography and leading to some of these really bad outcomes. So looked online, I thought, of course, there’s a couple of books out there and I could, I was looking for a book to give to her.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Kristen Jenson: And I couldn’t find it. And I’m like, “what?”

Garrett Jonsson: It just didn’t exist?

Kristen Jenson: Yeah. This, this is such a problem. I knew it was a problem. And there are no books. So I just decided, “Hey, you know, I majored in English literature. Of course I know how to write. And I I’d done writing professionally. So why not?” I started writing. I said, “I’ll just write it over the summer. I’m sure we can do it.” Uh, and so I worked on a it, but it took three years. It wasn’t actually as easy as I thought. [laughter]

Garrett Jonsson: I thought you were gonna say, you thought it would take a month, but then it only took like two days, but it was the opposite. It took longer than you thought.

Kristen Jenson: Garrett. Yeah. I wish I were that talented, but no, I’m just average. [laughter]

Garrett Jonsson: That’s that’s not true, but yeah.

Kristen Jenson: And, and I took a lot of, uh, people helping me. So if I have any genius at all, it’s that I get people to help me.

Garrett Jonsson: There we go.

Kristen Jenson: And I crowdsource a lot of this and get a lot of input. I got friends to help me and we tested it with parents. And then I take that feedback and do a major revision. And then we test it again, do an major revision. And then we gave ourselves a deadline because you can revise and revise and revise a book forever.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. And never publish it.

Kristen Jenson: And you’ll never get it published. That’s right.

So at some point you have to just say, okay, it’s going out there. And then we, as we have had more print runs, of course, every time we have a print run, we’ve revised it. We had a new edition come out a couple years ago, so we have continued to improve it. And then a few years later, you know, we had parents ask us for a junior version for three year olds. And I was just shocked to be a honest, it wasn’t even my idea, but it was parents of three year olds. Parents can see their kids are on iPads. Their kids are, you know, could potentially be exposed to some of this material. And they wanted to warn them and prepare them. So that was how we got Good Pictures, Bad Pictures, Junior.

Garrett Jonsson: That’s cool. Your team sent me both books and I am going to utilize ’em I’ve already utilized them. I actually have both of your books, but they sent me new copies. So it’s the new edition.

Kristen Jenson: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: And I was excited about that and I’ll continue to use those. And I guess the next question is like, going from that, you wrote this book and then the follow up book, at what point did you develop defend young minds as an organization?

Kristen Jenson: So when I started writing the book, I had some writer, friends that are like, “Well, Kristen, you don’t, you have no credibility. Who’s gonna buy a book from you?” And I’m like, “Well, that’s true.”

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Kristen Jenson: You have to start a blog and, and get so a following and get social media and yada, yada, yada. And I’m like, uh, okay. So I started a blog and you were gonna laugh Garrett, because I started it. And I thought, “Well, what should I call my blog?” And I thought, well, you really need to immunize kids, you know, inoculate them against pornography by educating them. Yeah. So that when they see it and are exposed, they have a defense already set up. Right. Well, I thought, okay, inoculate against porn, porn, inoculation. That was what I called lifers blog. And I had a, um, I have a cousin who’s a very, you, uh, highly paid, uh, lawyer.

And she took me aside at a family, you know, like Thanksgiving one year. And she said, “Kristen, you have got to change your name. Pornculation that’s, that’s, that’s just weird. You know, it’s a terrible name. People pay me a lot of money for my advice, but I’m gonna give you a and free advice, change that name.” I’m like, “Well, what do I change it to?” And she goes, “I don’t know.” So I came up with porn proof kids.

Garrett Jonsson: Okay.

Kristen Jenson: But then, and I used that for a while. And then, um, we got somebody to help us actually, he’s a branding expert, but he also does graphic design. And he’s the one that redesigned the book and, and designed, uh, Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr. uh, Evan McDonald. And he said to me, one day, he goes, “Kristen, I know you love your name, Porn Proof Kids, but I’m gonna tell you, you lead with a negative. It’s not good. You gotta come up with another name.”

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Kristen Jenson: And so our tagline included, protect young minds, tips and tools to protect young minds. And one day it just kind of like popped out. We used that, um, and protect is such a great word. It really resonates with parents. We all want to protect our kids and I want to protect my grandkids.

Garrett Jonsson: Right.

Kristen Jenson: And, and however, we got so many emails saying “I tried to protect my child, but they still saw porn. I tried to protect them…”, but da, da, da. And we realized you can’t actually build a Fort around a kid. You can’t raise them in a bubble, right. Incite barriers, right. You need, you can defend them and you can teach them digital defense skills, but you can’t just wall them off. And we felt like he was kind of more like walling them off, and defend was more like what every parent can do.

No matter the outcome, parents can defend their kids. Parents can teach their kids to defend themselves.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Kristen Jenson: And so we went with Defend Young Minds, um, and rebranded. And I love this new name. I, I really think it’s empowering. And without the expectation that, I mean, it’s not, if a child is going to be exposed to this material, it’s when, and so it’s kind of a battle out there, but kids can be taught to defend their minds and, and their, their, their mental, uh, health, their wellbeing and their futures by learning how to reject pornography. And there are three things that the books really provide. Both of them is a simple age, appropriate definition of pornography, so they can recognize it. And second, you want kids to be able to understand the harms of pornography. So you need a warning and an explanation of the science and, and your values to, you know, that we don’t hurt other people. We don’t, uh, encourage that. And, uh, then three a plan. So they know exactly what to do when they see it. So, uh, a definition, a warning, and a plan is so important whether use my books or not in, in raising children that have a defense against pornography.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. I love that. I heard it said once, and I don’t remember where I heard this, but it was someone said that, you know, we, as parents and as caregivers, we want our kids to be safe. And there’s like this internal debate of like, how do we go about that? How do we keep our kids safe? And you’ve kind of talked to that a little bit, like the difference between protect versus defend. And this person went on to say that there’s nothing. So it’s like safety or competence. And then the person went on to say, “There’s nothing safer than being incompetent.” And I, that’s wonderful. I think that kind of resonates with it resonated with me. And I think it is also relevant to the conversation we’re having right now, when we’re talking about the definition, the warning, the plan, and that that’s a part of being competent.

Kristen Jenson: Absolutely. I love that. I might steal that. Can I steal that? You gotta tell me who, if you find out who said it, tell me.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah, you can use it. Just, I guess, use the same caveat I just used, which is, I don’t know where this came from.

Kristen Jenson: Someone once said. [laughter]

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Kristen Jenson: Well, that’s, you know, I always say that the tendency for parents is to want to maintain a child’s innocence or often, you know, that is the tendency. See, and really competence is much safer. I love that. Uh, it’s much safer for a child to understand the dangers and to know how to keep themselves safe.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Kristen Jenson: An innocent child can be a very vulnerable child.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Kristen Jenson: And in day and age where we can’t really completely protect these kids, we need to be able to defend them and give them a defense.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. I think that we can split this conversation up into two parts. And as I was preparing for the conversation, I noticed on your website, on the homepage, you have a little dropdown and it kind of breaks this up into two parts as well. It’s prepare and prevent and then help and heal. And I kind of wanted to break this conversation up into those two sections or in those two approaches, starting off with prepare and prevent prepare. And I think that can be broken down into two categories and it’s filtration and conversation. Like basically it comes down to when we’re talking about the harmful effects of pornography, the way that we prepare and prevent is through filtration and conversations. Do you agree with that? Does that sound like, is that a fair statement?

Kristen Jenson: Yeah. Filtration or, uh, when they get a little older or accountability, um, software or, or programs or apps.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Kristen Jenson: I think that the conversations are great. However, within the conversations, it’s, it’s good to, to know where you’re trying to go to right. To understand all the topics that you need to consider and talk about. And that’s why, you know, our articles and our blog, uh, we really try to educate parents about, you know, how do you use YouTube safely, right? What are the dangers of TikTok? What are the, you know, and you know, what, what do therapists say about, um, you know, “Should I ask my child, you know, if they’ve seen pornography to describe it for me?” or sh you know, all kinds of things that, that, that parents need a information on, we write about those things and try to inform parents to have those conversations. And I’ve, uh, I remember one mom telling me that she uses the, our articles that get sent out and our emails that get sent out every week as kind of a prompt to talk to her kids about those things.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. A little a reminder, like, “Okay. And time for another conversation of some sort.”

Kristen Jenson: Yeah.

Cuz there’s a lot, it’s a complicated world and there’s a lot out there. And so, but you can’t do it all at once. And very few, you know, there’s some good books out there. It’s just, I don’t know about you, Garrett, but I, I don’t know. I, I have a hard time reading long books.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Kristen Jenson: I do read them, but um, bite size pieces of information are great.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. As we’re talking about, you know, filtrations and guided conversations, I wanted to give my observation about filtration. Filtration obviously it’s great. When we’re talking about defending young minds, filtration is great, but I think that sometimes people might rely too much on filtration and maybe not have enough guided conversation. Do you agree with that?

Kristen Jenson: Yes, I do. Putting a filter on is relatively easy. Having conversations can, at least at the beginning, be a little, um, daunting.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Kristen Jenson: So, uh, but once you start, it’s great. You actually build trust. I’ve had so many parents tell me that they have built trust with their kids when they have these, these kids. I think kids understand, uh, and they like, they’re flattered almost. They really love to be trusted. I would say most kids just from my own experience. And some of the studies I’ve seen when they see pornography, they don’t go tell anybody if, unless they’ve been asked to. Right? But as kids away, they won’t share that they feel this kind of fear because they don’t understand what they’ve seen. They don’t have the vocabulary to describe it. So that’s all about preparing and preventing, right?

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Kristen Jenson: We’re not saying preventing exposure cuz you know, with that, we, we just can’t, it’s, it’s pretty much inevitable at this point in the world we live in right now.

Garrett Jonsson: Right.

Kristen Jenson: But we can prevent them from being caught off guard. We can prevent them from being in a situation where they don’t know what to do.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Kristen Jenson: And we can prepare them with the tools and the skills and the conversations. So they know exactly how to respond. Right? So we need to make sure both boys and girls are prepared to recognize and reject pornography.

Garrett Jonsson: Right. Can you talk to if, if there’s any filtration softwares out there that you recommend or that you work with?

Kristen Jenson: Yeah. We have recently found, uh, a new product called Canopy.

Garrett Jonsson: Okay.

Kristen Jenson: And canopy uses artificial intelligence to detect porn and you can kind of set the degrees at which, you know, you want it filtered, but…

Garrett Jonsson: Do you guys have any type of deal with canopy where our listeners can go to your website and you know, get a free week trial, or a free month trial or something like that?

Kristen Jenson: Uh, if you go into our articles and you type in, you know, search for canopy, we do have a code. So it’s, it’s through the article.

Garrett Jonsson: Okay. Awesome.

Kristen Jenson: And um, yeah, so you can get 15% off for life, you know? So it, it is a good deal.

Garrett Jonsson: Okay, great. Well, I’ll try to find that link. And then I will include that in the episode notes. So you’ve mentioned that Defend Young Minds focuses on children that are 13 and younger and that kind of brings about the question, like what is the best age to begin talking to a child about pornography?

Kristen Jenson: Yeah. That’s a great question. And I get that a lot. So yeah, I think soon as your child has any access to the internet, whether it’s at your house, whether it could be, even if you feel like you’ve got everything locked down, they’re going to visit friends, they’re going to be at family members’ homes. They’re gonna be at grandparent homes and it’s just ubiquitous.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Kristen Jenson: So it’s important to start when they have any access at all to the internet.

Garrett Jonsson: What about for the caregivers that are concerned that talking about the harmful effects of pornography or educating on what healthy sexuality looks like? Like what do you say to caregivers who think that those conversations are gonna spike curiosity and therefore encourage kids to go search online for it?

Kristen Jenson: So my response to that is this, your child is going to be curious, your child lives in a world with constant sexual cues. And I don’t believe that you can make them any more curious than media is already making them, however you can air on one side or the other. You only really have two choices, right? Uh, you can have the cross-your-fingers plan, but that plan has been in use for decades and it doesn’t seem to be working.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Kristen Jenson: So what’s the other plan. And we call it the defend young minds plan, which is to and prevent, which is to teach your children what pornography is, why it’s harmful and what to do when they see it. When, when you’re a parent, you recognize that you can teach your child something and they can choose to, uh, make a different decision.

Garrett Jonsson: Right.

Kristen Jenson: But at least in the back of their mind, they know.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Kristen Jenson: They know where you stand. They know what you’ve taught them. They’ve been given a warning. They’ve been given a heads up. And I have so many stories of children that when they’re warned, they know how to respond. And they spawn exactly according to plan, uh, one nine year old, um, he was taught by his mom. He was read Good Pictures Bad Pictures. Three days later, he went to school and a schoolmate on the playground, pulled out a smartphone, which why a third grader, nine year old would have a smartphone. Don’t ask me. But he did. He pulled out the smartphone and showed his friend pornography, which we know this is happening a lot. And um, he saw that it was pornography. He turned away, you know, he recognized it, you went home. And he told his mom what happened. And he’s said, “Mom, I was scared, but I knew what to do.”

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Kristen Jenson: So obviously the porn that he was shown was scary to him. You know, “I was scared, but I knew what to do now.” Isn’t that a wonderful gift to give your child?

Garrett Jonsson: So cool. That’s amazing. In our house, we try to celebrate openness because it is such a beautiful thing that kids can come and talk to their caregivers.

Kristen Jenson: Right. You know, they come to you and if your first reaction is to kind of blow a gasket and to either say “What?!?!”,or “You’re never gonna play with that person again!” Uh I’m too taking away your iPad, that’s it, you know, whatever. Right. And actually, I, I don’t believe in giving iPads to kids, I believe in giving them access to technology, not the technology, the device itself. Um, because once they feel like it’s theirs, then they feel like they can set the rules. So, yeah. That makes sense. Again, I just wanna throw that in there, but this is one parent pointed this out to me when I was speaking one time, she said, you know, they’ll give you a little bit and then it, then if you’re trustworthy, if you kind of like, “Oh, okay.” know, if you don’t freak out, then they’ll come back, give you a little bit more.

Then they’ll give you a little bit more. The first time they talked to you about something, rarely is the whole story.

Garrett Jonsson: Right.

Kristen Jenson: So you wanna get the whole story. And it usually is bit by bit, uh, you know, one time I had a friend call me, she was sobbing. I couldn’t even understand what she was saying. And I, I finally said, “Do you need me to come over?” And she goes, “Yes.” So I went over there, I knocked at the door. She wasn’t even answering the door. I pushed it open. I heard her sobbing from her master bathroom. And I went in there, just hugged her and I, I was thinking her husband must have just asked her for a divorce… or….

Garrett Jonsson: Right. Something terrible.

Kristen Jenson: You know, her, whatever kids were heard or something. But, um, no, she found pornography on the iPad that the 14 year old was using. And, uh, she was going to go over to his school and pull him outta class and grab him and say “What are you doing?!”, you know?

Garrett Jonsson: Right.

Kristen Jenson: And what I, you know, counseled her is to calm down. You can give yourself 24, 48, 48, 72 hour hours, you know, a couple days a week, if you need to.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Kristen Jenson: Right? Don’t you don’t have to react. Even if you found something or they told you something or, you know, you can have time, take time to deal with your own emotions first. And then you can deal with the situation. You can make a plan, you can figure out what kinds of questions, which we have a list of questions that need to be asked and you know, what do you need to ask them? What kind of information do you need to get? And how do you, you know, how do you go forward? So your child is strengthened and your relationship is strengthened and not harmed.

Garrett Jonsson: Right. Yeah. That makes sense. I read a book recently called The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. And the two, the first two habits, the first one is be proactive. And then the second one begin with the end in mind. And speaking of being a parent, it’s hit me more this year than ever before. How little time we get with the children that we care for. And the reason why it hit me is because my eight year olds had eight birthdays and only 10 more birthdays. And this kid’s an adult all of a sudden. And I’m like, wow, that is so little time. And so going back to that book of beginning, with the end in mind, like we have to prepare our kids for the day that we’re no longer over there entire life.

Kristen Jenson: I know I used to tell my kids when they would complain about rules, I’d say, “Look for this small amount of time, you’re gonna be living with us. And then you have your whole…” and I’d stretch out my arm all the way out, “And you have your whole rest of your life…”

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Kristen Jenson: “…as adults. And you can do anything you want, you can make any decision, but right now I’m the mom, you know, we’re the parents and we have to have some rules here. But you know, it’s not actually for, you know, there’s, it’s a fairly small part of your whole life. So don’t worry. You’ll, you know, you’ll get the time when you can just make all the decisions you wanna make.” But yeah. And I think another thing that Steven Covey says is to seek to understand, before you, you know, seek to be understood. Right?

Garrett Jonsson: Yep.

Kristen Jenson: And so that’s another part of this, which is seek to understand, to listen before you react and, you know, lay down the law. Now, let me tell you, I’ve totally own it many times when my kids were younger. So, you know, you have to have grace for yourself. Right? And we have an article about how to recover if you’ve blown up at your kid, how to recover, you know, so, um, you know, check that out. But there, there are, um, you know, some really there’s some great advice for how to deal. And I think this also is actually part of preparing, because if you prepare for that instance where either your kid comes to you and says, you know, Johnny showed me, you know, pornography on his iPad today, or, um, I came across something while playing a game or you find something, you find their history, or somehow you find out that they’ve been seeking it out, you know, you’ll be prepared in the very best way so that you can handle it in a way that’s gonna help your child and can, and keep your relationship intact and even stray.

Garrett Jonsson: Right. Well, I wanna talk about addiction a little bit because I think that caregivers should be very aware of when to, and when not to use the word addiction and kind of leave the diagnosis up to the professionals. What’s your opinion on that? Do you think that that word is sometimes overused?

Kristen Jenson: I believe that yes, we have to be careful about labeling a child, you know, “addicted”, and, uh, I feel like we have to be careful about that, but we also need to face the fact that it can become an addiction and, uh, it, it can negatively impact, you know, their future. So I think our, we owe it to our kids to warn them about addiction and to teach them how their brain works. That’s why in Good Pictures Bad Pictures the one for, you know, seven to 11 year olds. We talk about addiction. We talk about the thinking brain and the feeling brain and how it’s important to keep the thinking brain in control. And what happens when people develop an addiction.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. Being that you’re or a leader in the safeguard Alliance of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, can you talk to ways that porn perpetuates sexual exploitation?

Kristen Jenson: Yes. Well, first of all, it’s used to groom children, so that, that it normalizes set sexual exploitation so that you can more easily abuse them. And, uh, so that’s one, one way that pornography is, uh, you know, involved in sexual exploitation, and obviously people who are being exploited often, they’re being filmed during the rape or whatever. Uh, and they’re posted on these tube sites or even, uh, social media sites. And, you know, that’s another part of the exploitation. Uh, we don’t, you know, I think once a child is 10, 11, 12, you definitely talk to them about this side. You know, I know Fight the New Drug has the, you know, Brain Heart World. And this is the world part where, you know, are we wanting to vote for that kind of, you know, exploitation of people? Do we want to, you know, because every time you click on a porn site, you’re voting for sexual exploitation and everything that’s involved in it.

So, you know, we, we definitely, as kids get older and when I talk, sometimes I, I talk about, you know, what are the, what’s the messaging at each age that a child should, you know, be aware of. And that’s definitely, um, part of, you know, kids that are, you know, getting to be, you know, 11, 12, 13, they need to understand what’s actually happening with pornography and how it’s, it’s exploiting people. And it, and, and it’s teaching such an exploitive version of sex. You know, sex is not something that we do with someone we love and someone we want to, you know, have a trusting, committed relationship with. And, and, uh, no it’s exploitive, it’s, you know, it’s violent. And it’s, you know, I just saw an article about a study about choking, and we’ve all heard stories about, you know, men that choke their dates and they wonder why what’s the problem is don’t women like to be choked and you know, that this is normalized with pornography. And so sexual harm and sexual exploitation is normalized by pornography. We don’t want our kids accepting that.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. And we’ve talked about your books. We’ve talked a lot about defending young minds, but we haven’t mentioned the new curriculum that you’ve put together, which is the brain defense curriculum. I think that as we’re talking about exploitation and educating kids on that, we also need to talk about this, the brain defense curriculum that you guys have put together. Can you talk to what that is and how, how people can access it?

Kristen Jenson: Yeah. Well, first of all, when we, we decided to develop this curriculum, we looked at a lot of prevention science, and obviously the science of, you know, the brain as far as pornography and all that, but the prevention science, what actually reduces risk, how do you teach in a way that reduces risk? Um, and we also, you know, looked at, you know, educational methodology and all that stuff. But, um, so we used all of that to develop this program. And we like to think of it as driver’s ed for the internet and no your eight year old is not gonna draw, have a car, but your eight year old is driving a device. Right?

Garrett Jonsson: Right.

Kristen Jenson: Do you want your child to be out on the, you know, internet super highway where they can go wherever and talk to whomever, um, and see whatever, you know, uh, do you want them to go there with a, out some, some training and, you know, the answer really is no, you know, we need to, so if you were gonna design, you know, a driver’s ed for the internet, what would you want to include?

And as we asked ourselves that we came up with a fairly comprehensive curriculum that is taught in five lessons with 10 follow up, like continue the conversation, um, mini lessons, and these lessons begin with talking to kids about screen safety. You know, how do you control your, we call it the three Cs, right? Control your time, because too much time on a screen leads to some, you know, real, uh, negative impacts, which we discuss in the, in the curriculum and then, you know choose content wisely. Right? Uh, we know that media affects behavior. And so make sure you’re putting into your brain what, uh, you know, that you’re careful what you’re putting into your brain and then, you know, create a balance between what you do, you know, digitally and in real life. And that is getting more and more blurred because more those kids, they don’t see that there’s a difference, but we need to point it out that you want to interact with real people and do real things off of screens and have that balance between screen and, you know, non-screen activities.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Kristen Jenson: So that’s one of the things we wanted to talk about habits and how habits are formed in the brain and the, the neural connections, how addictions are created. Then, um, number three, we wanna talk about pornography. We wanna talk about what it is, why it’s harmful, what to do when they see it, giving them those refusal skills and that practice. Um, and then finally we need to teach kids to, you know, just be good digital citizens, right? To understand the importance of being honest, being the same person online and offline, you know, and, and being kind and, uh, you know, anti-bullying, and also to watch out for predators. Um, so all of this, we put together and it’s not like a talking head video. It’s fun. It’s taught by, um, the brain gang. Six, uh, a set of diverse, you know, older peers, they’re teenagers that each all of this, they use real stories.

Garrett Jonsson: Nice

Kristen Jenson: … and humor.

Garrett Jonsson: That’s cool.

Kristen Jenson: It’s very, it can be very funny for the kids. Eight, eight to 11, eight to 12. Um, and, uh, of course I’m still a kid at heart, so I laugh at all the jokes too.

Garrett Jonsson: [laughter] Nice.

Kristen Jenson: But, uh, we actually got to you is, um, uh, his name is James Best. He is an Emmy nominated, uh, writer. He wrote for a lot of very popular children’s programming. Now he does, you know, all kinds of, you know, writing for like super bowl commercials and that kind thing. But, um, he rewrote our scripts and did a phenomenal job.

Garrett Jonsson: Wow. That’s exciting.

Kristen Jenson: So, um, anyway, we just got so many great people in on this and it’s fun and kids love it. They, they, they remember it, they remember the stories and they love the brain gang. And so it’s just a fun way and it’s super easy. So it’s like open and go. So there’s a family version and it’s, you honestly, you just, the video, we have a little script, play the video, have them do the workbook, and then you’ve got some activities to do, you know, for role play. And it’s, it’s quick and it’s simple, but it’s something that can give you this kind of comprehensive, uh, driver’s ed for the internet.

Garrett Jonsson: Right.

Kristen Jenson: So, yeah. Check out brain defense, digital safety at braindefense.org, or go to defendyoungminds.com and, um, and find us there to find brain defense.

Garrett Jonsson: Well, it’s all great information, Kristen, and being a person that is, you know, on the front lines with this, we appreciate your perspective and your insight. So thanks for joining us today, before we end, we do wanna leave you with the opportunity to have the last word during this conversation. Is there any last thoughts that you would like to share or something that’s on your heart or mind that we haven’t talked to yet?

Kristen Jenson: Well, I would just like to say that no child deserves to face the porn industry alone. The they deserve to be taught and prepared and given the skills and the knowledge so that they can defend themselves. And sooner is safer. You know, hashtag sooner is safer when we have kids that have, you know, any time on the internet, it can happen so quickly and in places or at times that you wouldn’t expect. So that’s why it’s so important to take that first step to talking to your kids, to having these conversations, of course, have your filters and your parental controls in place. We have lots of articles about those, uh, products and, and those, um, you know, ways to do that easily on defendyoungminds.com and, um, just start, get started, help other people get started, share this information with your friends. You know, if you’re a parent then, or even if you’re an older brother or sister, and maybe you weren’t warned, you know, you can help warn your, you can help warn your, you know, younger brother or sister and help them be safer than you were. And so, um, we can all have a part in, in defending the young minds that are in our circle of influence. And I just encourage you to take that first step. And we’ve got lots of tools for you and information. And, uh, the articles, you know, are free on defend young minds. And we have also exclusive content that we give to our subscribers. So please subscribe. And, um, we are here with you to help you every step of the way.

Garrett Jonsson: Going back to that phrase, it takes a village. And, uh, again, it takes a village and a Google search, but in this case, it’s not even a, it doesn’t even require a Google search because we’re gonna include the links in the episode notes. So we’re making it even easier. We are grateful that you’re part of our village, Kristen,

Kristen Jenson: And I’m so grateful to be, uh, uh, allied with Fight the New Drug. I kind of think of us as Fight the New Drug’s, little brother and sister, you know? [laughter]

Garrett Jonsson: [laughter] Well, we feel the same level of gratitude. Thanks for, thanks for all you guys do.

Kristen Jenson: Thanks so much, Garrett.

Garrett Jonsson: Take care.

Fight the New Drug Ad: Talking about porn can be tricky. That’s why we created an interactive conversation guide called Let’s Talk About Porn. Simply select who you’d like to talk to, your partner, child, friends, parents, or even a stranger, and select the type of conversation you’d like to have. We’ll walk you through a healthy way to approach this taboo topic in a productive conversation. Let’s Talk About Porn is available for free, both in English, and Spanish so you can be prepared to talk when someone asks why you’re listening to a podcast about the harms of porn. Access the guide, and start talking at FTND.org/blueprint. That’s FTND.org/blueprint.

Garrett Jonsson: Thanks for joining us on this episode of Consider Before Consuming.

Consider Before Consuming is brought to you by Fight the New Drug.

Fight the New Drug is a non-religious and non-legislative organization that exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness on its harmful effects using only science, facts, and personal accounts.

If you’d like to learn more about today’s guest and the conversation we had, you can check out the links included with this episode.

Again, big thanks to you for listening to this conversation. As you go about your day, we invite you to increase your self-awareness, look both ways, check your blind spots, and consider before consuming.

Fight the New Drug collaborates with a variety of qualified organizations and individuals with varying personal beliefs, affiliations, and political persuasions. As FTND is a non-religious and non-legislative organization, the personal beliefs, affiliations, and persuasions of any of our team members or of those we collaborate with do not reflect or impact the mission of Fight the New Drug.

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