Off the Cuff: The “Talk”

In this episode of Off the Cuff, Hayden and I discuss the following:

  • What age is appropriate to begin the “sex talk” with your kids and how do we go about it without robbing them of their innocence?
  • When and how do we begin talking about the dangers of porn?
  • How prevalent is this problem and what steps should parents take to protect their children?
  • Hayden discusses effective deterrents that help him fight the temptation.

Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 8.17.28 AMIf you are just now joining us for the Off the Cuff series and wondering what it’s all about, click here for our introduction clip. You can find Episode 1 (a Snapchat discussion) here. In the meantime, comment below with any helpful advice you may have for other readers pertaining to this topic. If you have a new question for a future episode, you can submit it on the introduction page by clicking here. Also, if you need more tips on how to begin and continue the sex/pornography conversation with your son, I cover it more extensively in my book, 5 Conversations You Must Have With Your Son. It is also available as a DVD/Bible study, so grab a group of moms and start a group in your neighborhood or church!

Thanks for joining us again! Next week, we’ll be discussing hyper-aggressive girls and Hayden will offer valuable insight from a guy’s perspective. If you want to receive notifications of new Off the Cuff episodes, subscribe by email in the upper right-hand corner of this post or “like” my Facebook author page in the right margin. We’ll see you next time!

UPDATE: I’ve received a bunch of emails/comments asking about apps that can monitor smartphones. I did an Internet search for some information and found It claims to monitor/track texts messages (even after they’re deleted); GPS tracking, and tracks Internet, email and photo activity, as well as SMS activity. It is pricy — the basic package (which does all of the above) runs from $39.99 for one month of tracking to $59.99 for three months.

I also found, which claims to specialize in iPhones (but also monitors androids). I can’t tell if they can track Instagram and Snapchat activity, so you would need to look into it more if you are going to allow your children to engage in those apps, since most of them have left Facebook. Also, they will allow you to try it for free for six days and if you like it, it’s $14.95/month. One benefit of telling your children you are monitoring their phones is that they will probably assume that includes Instagram and Snapchat. Hayden thought I was able to see everything he was doing on his phone when he was in high school. I never told him I could — he just assumed it! Please weigh in if you have used either of these apps or have another one you would like to recommend.

One more thing: If I were a parent w/ a tween/teen and I allowed them to have a smartphone (it’s not likely I would allow my tween to have one, but I’ve learned to never say never…), I would invest in one of the above apps for one month and track a random month for each of my children to spot-check their activity. If they are not on the right track, you will know it in a month. My personal position is if you are willing to pay the monthly fee for them to have a smartphone, you should factor into the cost equation a monitoring fee over and above it to ensure their safety. Too much is at stake to not know what they’re doing on their phones. Have them earn the cost and tell them it’s part of the deal. I would also let them know I am monitoring their phone use, but I would probably leave out the detail that I’m only doing so for one month (besides, I may decide to increase it after seeing their activity for one month!). I would further explain that it is for safety purposes to ensure they are using the phone responsibly. That’s just my two cents.  :)



  1. Jamie Coberly says

    This is such an important topic and seemingly so overwhelming… I have 2 daughters, so I am on the other end of this perspective as far as how damaging pornography can potentially be to the woman in the marriage. It can sometimes feel like there is no hope, however we know that is not true. The redemptive love of Jesus Christ gives us hope. We have got to be proactive about these types of evils that we can encounter for sure… And be constantly pouring into our children about their value in Christ and how He has overcome the world. And like you said… talking about these kind of issues regularly, telling our kids about what true love really looks like and being in serious prayer for our children and all children.

    Thank you for this post… Loving your videos!!

  2. Amy says

    What do you recommend to put on a young person’s phone, to monitor what they are looking at? I wasn’t aware of anything like that, but would definitely like to know. Thank you, Amy

  3. Laura says

    I would also like to know about iphone/itouch filters. We have every computer and kindle filtered but haven’t figured out how to filter the internet on the phone.
    I have read your 5 conversations books but do you have a book you may recommend to go through with my son (9). We seem to have many resources for our girls but not as many for the boys. Great videos! Love them! Thank you for helping us navigate these tough years.
    O Lord protect our precious children.

  4. Nikki says

    I love these videos that you have been doing with your son! I am a 19-year-old college student who helps at my church with the youth group and these topics are things that come up in daily conversation with them! I love that you have the perspective of you as a mother but also your son’s perspective on the situation; it makes it a lot easier to show the girls and boys that it is not just parents saying this but people who were just in their shoes! In addition, your son is a great example to the girls in what to strive for in a young man, I have many who talk with me about waiting for a Godly guy, but many of them struggle to see/find ones in their life that they would want to date. Some of them are to the point where they do not believe that they exist and so they are constantly lowering their standards, but having something like this is great to be able to show them it is not a lost cause! So thank you very much, for what you are both doing, and for helping the next generation to be raised with Godly values and morals.

  5. sheila clark says

    Thanks, Vicki! Loving these “off the cuff” posts with your son!
    A few thoughts for monitoring an iphone. Here’s what we do. (1) First of all, in the general settings, you can set restrictions and lock out things like safari, installing apps, facebook, youtube, etc. If my daughter wants to install an app or get a new song she has to come to me. This can get time consuming since I first check out the app/song she wants to have. So I only allow for such requests on the weekends. (2) If you need a safe browser, you could install mobicip’s app. Just remember no browser is fail-proof but mobicip does a pretty good job. (They also have paid plans that record activity.) I just have it installed on my ipad and she uses that for any research she needs to do. (3) For instagram, I just pick up her phone every once in a while to see what she and her friends are posting. And of course, I follow her on instagram too. We have had a few conversations about what I have found that her friends post. (4) For imessage, if you have a shared iTunes account, you can have messages she sends/receives sent to your phone also. In the settings under messages, there’s a place to add addresses. But after my phone started beeping all the time because of her incoming texts, I opted to only have my ipad check for her messages and turn off the sound notification. This way, I could keep my phone for personal use and check her messages on my ipad when I’m home. Unfortunately, there’s no way to monitor regular text messages (non-imessaging) without having a jailbroken phone with some sort of hack installed (that I know of). Our daughter primarily uses imessage though.
    I agree that the key is to set the boundaries up front. We had our daughter sign a contract. She knows she is not to delete any of her messages and thankfully she is very trustworthy so far. (5) We also get copies of all her emails. (6) I also recommend kids turning in their devices at night instead of keeping them in their bedroom for a lot of reasons. There are kids who actually sleep with their phones under the pillows so they don’t miss a text message. I can’t imagine they are getting quality sleep that way! Hope this helps some of you.

  6. Sherry says

    Hi – love these videos!! What’s the best software to use for the computer to help block websites? is there also something that can be put ont their phones as well? Thanks so much!

  7. admin says

    Hi Sherry. I posted a couple of links at the bottom of the Off the Cuff post to monitoring software for smartphones. I know one of them had the capability to block sites. I’m not sure what the best software is for computers nowadays. We used Spectorsoft and Safe Eyes and I highly recommend them both. :)

  8. Kelli says

    I read an article by you on Focus on the Family’s website.You recommended monitoring software for computers. Can you share which one you used? I’m overwhelmed by everything that is out there. Did you also use something like NetNanny or Covenant Eyes in addition to that? Thx.

  9. admin says

    We used Spectorsoft to monitor and Safe Eyes to filter and block. It was awhile back, so there could be something better out there now. I would try googling “best monitoring software” and it will probably link you to some sites that contain product reviews. Hope that helps!

  10. Donna says

    I implemented all the things Sheila did with my son who is now a sophomore in college and now we have an 11 year old daughter. She has a smartphone, but we did like Sheila and do not allow Internet and have to approve songs and apps via iTunes. Any Internet searching is done on a desktop or laptop that is monitored.

    For texting (we did this with our son and it worked) our daughter may only text people in her contacts that we allow and she may not delete them. We read them to ensure she’s making good choices and to ensure her safety. We also monitor the texts by our cell phone bill, ensuring nothing has been deleted. As well, we guide her cell phone etiquette not allowing her to text or play games while she has company. Our son tried sneaky things, but we removed his cell phone privileges and he learned. So far, our daughter has had no trouble. I’m sure she learned from her brother.

    If we had not done this, some conflicts that occurred in early high school may not have been as easily resolved. Many parents we’ve encountered aren’t as precautions and it has led to some consequences for their children. We learned through them how to try and keep our children safe in an open, varying values world. This is a great series as we enter this precarious phase with our daughter. It’s nice to see these tips and add more to our toolbox. Thank you!

  11. Jen says

    Just wanted to say thank you for doing this. Hayden, you are blessing so many taking the time to make these videos & share your heart with us. I’ve been having my 14yr old daughter watch them also & besides her enjoying how cute you are ????, we are having great talks from it. Vicki, you continue to bless me with your wisdom & relevant advice. Thank you for doing what you do!!! Oh & I have to say y’all are super funny together & remind me so much of how my kids respond to me when I think I’m “with it”. I’m requesting a full blooper reel when you’re done ????

  12. anonymous says

    I love the blooper reel idea above!!! 😉 Please give us advice on Instagram for teens. We are just warming up to the idea, but still unsure about allowing it and how to monitor it. I understand that even though you don’t follow someone, you can still go to their pictures and comments if they are open/not restricted and follow you — or if someone you follow is connected to them. What is your advice on allowing a teen to have it? Any advice on boundary setting is welcome. Thanks for your input and wisdom, Hayden and Vicki!!!

  13. Dana says

    I love that y’all are doing this – thank you! I’m really interested to hear both your perspectives on the father/son relationship during your last year at home. My son is a senior in high school and almost everything he does annoys my husband. There always seems to be tension in the house and my husband tells me about all the things our son does that bother him (nothing major -texting, spending too much time watching tv, opting out of school activities, “being lame”…). He says he can’t wait for him to go off to college – it’s really hard to hear him say those things when I want to enjoy our last year with him.
    A fellow Longhorn

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