A very high percentage of men view porn online.
This is not a shocking revelation for many of us, and it’s legal and their free choice. This is not a blog about men and pornography (although we do have plenty to say on that topic). This is a blog about dads, pornography, the Internet and their children.
As parents, we are faced with daily challenges – especially when our children drop the proverbial “bombshell” in our laps. At 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 kids’ last visit to their dad (who is a great dad), my 14-year-old daughter grabbed her father’s iPad – as any typical teenager would do. I got a text from her that read, ‘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. My child drops a bomb through text, while I’m not with her to work through this. In some ways, I was glad it was a text so I could have 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 cut off the wonderful communication I have with my daughter. But I will admit to you, that my initial response was to call the ex and rip into him.
I quickly thought the better of that thought, as it would only exacerbate the situation and make my daughter feel like she “ratted out” her father. Not good for their relationship. My biggest concern was for my twin 10-year old son and daughter. While they would not seek out the porn themselves, if a site popped up in the history list with an eye-catching name, their impulsivity might very well get the best of them. They might even think, ‘Heck if it’s on Dad’s iPad then isn’t it okay?’”
When we were younger, (which for most of us was the 70’s and 80’s), if we happened upon porn it was a stack of Playboys hidden in the basement or in Dad’s nightstand. I look back at that level of porn as being so tame as compared with the images and video kids can see today online.
The influence of what children see online is unknown and perhaps impossible to measure. But we know that the Internet provides kids with access to hard core pornography, the kind they would otherwise not be exposed to until they were well into adulthood (if ever). Kids do not have the capacity to digest these images and it can and does have devastating long-term effects on their development.
This particular parent went on to ask for advice-
“How should I respond? Via text, I started by thanking my daughter for sharing her concerns 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. In that moment, I was also trying to parent at a distance, through text. So I make do 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 home.
When they got back from the weekend, I checked in with her. She said she didn’t think the little ones saw the porn sites but she explained that she herself felt violated that she was even exposed to the names of these sites. So we discussed how to have a conversation with her father. In today’s world there are many ways to use your “voice” via email, text, IM, etc.
We decided that my getting involved would be the last option, as this would negatively impact their relationship. We let it rest during our time together and then just hours before she was scheduled to return to her father (it was obviously weighing on her mind), and without any input from me, she wrote 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.
I expressed to her how deeply proud I was of her for using her voice, and also protecting her siblings.Later she told me that he wrote back, ‘No problem.’”
It’s unfortunate that it took 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. 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. It’s a conversation that all parents should have – remembering to consider the impact your behavior has on the development of your children.
The bottom line for me is the same as the goal we set at KidSafe: Children need to know they have a voice and it is our job as parents to teach them how to use it. 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! Kudos to her and her mom.
If you want to learn more about how to teach your child how to use their voice, visit KidSafeFoundation.org