Hide The Porn The Kids Are Watching

Dads, Porn, The Internet and Their Children!

KidSafe Parenting Help

A very high percentage of men view porn on line – this is not a shocking revelation for many of us – and it is legal, and their free choice. This is not a blog about men and pornography (although we do have much to say about the topic) this is a blog about dads, pornography, the internet and their children.  As parents we are faced with daily challenges as our children drop “proverbial” bombs in our laps.  In KidSafe we believe that all of those “situations” can be teachable moments…. Once we get our hearts out of our throats. A parent who has been through the KidSafe program shared the following story with us:

“On my children’s last visit to their Dad (great dad) my oldest, 14 year old daughter, jumped on to her father’s Ipad as any typical teenager would do. I then receive a text from her, stating – Mom, when I went on dad’s ipad and typed in You to go to youtube, a bunch of porn sites came up. Well there you go – child drops the bomb through a text, while I am not with her to work it through. In some ways I was glad this was a text, I had a few minutes to think about my response. I kept my wits about me, as I knew that if I called or sent a heated response (expressing anger, disgust, “flipping out” so to speak) I would have cut off the wonderful communication I have with my daughter. But I will admit to you, that my initial response which I did not act upon was to call the ex and “rip into him.” I quickly thought the better of that as this would only exacerbate the situation – and make my daughter seem like she “ratted” out her dad. Not good for their relationship. My biggest concern was for my twin 10 year old – son and daughter, who would perhaps not seek out the porn themselves, but if a site popped up in the history list with an eye catching name their impulsivity might very well get the best of them – and the porn would be a click away. They might even think – “Heck if it is on Dad’s ipad then isn’t it okay?”

Back to my blog – When we were younger, yes in the 70’s and 80’s for the most part, if we fell upon porn it was a (stack) of playboys hidden in the basement or Dad’s side table (sorry dad but yes I did look – actually enjoyed the articles.) I look back at that level of porn as being so tame as compared with the images and video kids can see today on line. The influence of what children see on line at this point is unknown, perhaps impossible to measure.

But we do know that children are at risk for being exposed to information,  pornography, and much worse that if there was no internet they would not be exposed to at all – or at least not until they were well into adulthood. Kids do not have the capacity to digest these images – and it can and does have devastating long term effects on their development.

So back to the story, she writes:   “How should I respond? Via text I started by thanking my daughter for sharing her concerns (and I was feeling so blessed that she is the type of kid who can self-regulate and knows better than to click on the stuff herself) and asked if she felt comfortable talking with her dad about it. She responded that she was disgusted and annoyed but not comfortable talking with her dad. I realize this is a tough thing to ask a 14 year old to do – but I am also working hard to raise a child, especially a girl that can stand true to herself, and have a voice.

           But I am now parenting at a distance at that moment – through text – so I suffice with – okay – please keep an eye on the twins while they use the ipad and we can come up with a solution together when you get back to my home.

          Upon the kids return from the weekend I check in with her and she reports that  she feels that the little ones did not fall upon the porn sites but my daughter explains that she herself feels violated that she even has to be exposed to the names of these sites. So we discuss how to have the conversation and things she can say to her father. In today’s world there are many ways to use your “voice”, email, text, IM, etc. We decide my getting involved would be a last option as this would negatively impact their relationship. We let it rest during our time together and then just hours before she is to return to her father (it was obviously weighing on her mind), without any input from me – she writes him a text telling him about the porn she found on the ipad and asked him to please erase the history as she nor the twins want to be exposed to such sites. She then texts me that she sent said text. Then she texts me a few minutes later that she didn’t hear back yet. I could feel her anxiety through the text. I expressed to her how deeply proud I was of her for using her voice, and also protecting her siblings. Eventually she said he wrote back, “No problem.”  

So I ask you reader, Does it have to take a 14 year old to tell an adult to have some common sense about safety on the internet? Everyone has access to pornography on the internet, children as young as 7 are known to google words such as boobs and sex just to “see.” But a responsible adult leaving pornography on their ipad, is just like leaving porno magazines and dvds out on the coffee table in the family room. Although most of the people who read this blog are probably women, this is a conversation all parents should have, married and divorced.  Think about the impact your behavior has on the development of your children.

Bottom line for me is the goal we should all set as parents and as the Cofounder of KidSafe. Children need to know they have a voice – and it is our role as parents to teach them how to use it. These are skills for a life time. If this teen can tell her dad to get rid of the porn imagine what she’ll say to an employer who crosses the line. All the power to her and all the power to her mom.

Author: Sally Berenzweig MEd, MA

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