Accidental Porn: A Cautionary Tale

This post has been contributed by an Anonymous Mom (for obvious reasons). 

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Picture this family scene: Sunday brunch, everyone digging in, normal levels of decorum. Then out of the blue...

 

"I saw a picture of a man sticking his penis up another man’s bottom,” said my favorite middle-child nonchalantly.

The family fell silent.

“Oh!” I spluttered, mind racing.

Eldest daughter, 11, understood enough and left the room immediately.

Husband practically spat his coffee over the newspaper and gave me a look as if to say, I deal with the mortgage, this is your domain!

It turns out that at a sleepover (at my house), middle-child’s friend (age 8!) brought his own iPad and instead of playing some dragon-slaying adventure, they were busy cracking my paper-thin filters and helping themselves to a feast of quite hard-core pornography.

This was particularly shocking as my son didn’t actually know anything about sex yet. I hadn’t quite got around to discussing ‘the birds and bees.’ This was his first encounter with anything in this realm, and full-on, graphic images of gay sex was not the foundation I was hoping for. Thinking quickly, I realized I had to work backwards. This is how our conversation went: 

Step 1: Porn, not great for an 8-year-old. Yes, he does have an enormous penis and yes, it is very veiny but no, it’s not real, don’t feel bad. And no, I don’t think he’s that happy in his chosen career.

Step 2: It’s a lovely thing that people can love whoever they want, some men love other men, some women love women and some men even love women too. And yes, this is one way of displaying that love!

Step 3: Oh and this is how babies are made.

Obviously I told the other kid’s parents. When it eventually came out that he’d also shown the same images to at least one other kid, I mentioned it to the school so they could help the kids stay safe online.

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I rewarded my child for coming clean and being brave enough to tell the truth. I was enormously proud of him for sharing something that he sensed wasn’t right.

The other kid’s parents handled it differently. They punished him, banned him from all devices so he had to endure a period of cold-turkey. Understandably, this kid was angry and lashed out at mine.

Three months later, that friendship is over and what my child remembers about this experience is that he told the truth and lost a friend. And this above anything else, is what upsets me most.

So, how do we deal with such easy access to hard-core content? Being vigilant about filters on every device? Communication? Burning of technology? Curiosity is all part of growing up, of course. When I was young we used to pass the time looking up ‘penis’ in the dictionary. It was hilarious but not harmful. Looking up ‘Penis’ on Google, however, is a whole different story! How can we manage our kids’ curiosity while keeping them safe?

I’m sharing this cautionary tale so you can learn from my experience. Who knows if I handled the situation correctly, but maybe by thinking about it now, you’ll know what to do if it happens to you.

And if it has, please share your experience so the learning continues!

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