08
Sep
07

Talking to a 10-year-old about porn

Sometimes I wonder whether I have a handle on things that are most important.  I blame myself for things that I might have prevented happening.  I ask myself: are my priorities on straight? 

Like if I’d only kicked my butt into gear, done some research and installed a porn filter on our laptop, maybe our daughter wouldn’t have stumbled on pictures of oral sex yesterday while trying to find her favourite kids’ site.

She’s been using the internet a lot since the summer, when I showed her an online touch-typing course on a rainy day when she was bored. 

I remember having read somewhere that 90% of kids between eight and 16 have seen porn at least once on the Internet, mostly in the same way my daughter did: by accident.  I remember at the time thinking that I have to look into installing a filter. 

Damn it.  I’m 150okm away, home very late tomorrow night, won’t see her for two more days until she comes home from school Monday, and by that time she might have forgotten the whole thing.   She did talk about it with her mother, and my wife says she feels reassured by the fact she can speak openly about it to her, but still.   

I know it’s a wrong-headed battle trying to shield my kid from all the evils of the world, but at least I can do something I hope will prevent this happening again.

I’ve never asked for help via this blog, but if anyone who’s been confronted with this situation has some advice to share – technical or otherwise - you’re welcome to do so.


17 Responses to “Talking to a 10-year-old about porn”


  1. 1 antonymous
    September 8, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    You are seriously not quite right in the head. Rightwing puritanism is a form of head sickness, after all.

    Sexuality is perfectly natural. Maybe take a trip to Scandinavia where porn is available everywhere for everyone, and the heavens have not come crashing down on them.

  2. 2 faithfamilyandfarm
    September 8, 2007 at 2:52 pm

    I am sorry to hera this happened to your daughter………. I have kids and I don’t let them be online without me or my hubby close by……. it’s pretty scary out there and the porn is awful right now! The stats show that kids will be exposed to porn earlier and earlier in life……….. for boys the effects can be devastating…….. I know of 3 families that have boys that became addicted to porn and are now no longer safe to be at home……..long term porn addiction can lead to acting out in violent ways…….it’s very tragic and a modern day disease IMO.

    Hope you can get this taken care asap with your daughter,

    gloria

  3. September 10, 2007 at 5:44 am

    We never let our son use the internet unattended – at least not using google. Though I’m sure the time will come when we can’t pay attention to everything he is doing. We’ve always searched for sites together with him, and made bookmarks of the sites he can visit (usually sites with online games suitable for children). Maybe there’s no other way than to install a filter – and have an individual user in windows defined without administrator privileges, so that nothing harmful can be installed.

  4. September 10, 2007 at 5:53 am

    antonymous: Simply scanning the Wikipedia entry on porn laws by region you’ll see that Sweden, for example, doesn’t allow access to those under 18. Maybe you can tell me why there are laws against children buying pornography? Do try to frame your response without attacking me personally in your first sentence, and try to gather the guts to leave a name and a link to your blog if you have one.

    Thanks for my Monday morning laugh, btw. If you’ve read this blog before, you’ll know I am anything but right-wing.

    indie and fam: I guess I (we) were negligent in simply letting her have access to the internet. Like I said, I’m kicking myself.

  5. September 11, 2007 at 8:27 am

    I wasn’t suggesting that you were negligent – I had never imagined a porn site coming up with one of my son’s searches – but there are a lot more sites that look harmless but try to ge you to install something on your pc (Trojan, virus, adware, etc) which you don’t want. Many adults, let alone children, do not have the overview and computing background to know what to click and what not to click.

  6. September 11, 2007 at 8:28 am

    by the way, if you look under the google preferences, you will see you can set a safety filter:
    http://www.google.de/preferences?hl=en
    http://www.google.de/intl/en/help/customize.html#safe

  7. September 11, 2007 at 9:00 am

    indie – it’s actually the feeling I have that i was negligent in being aware of the problem, but putting off doing anything about it. thanks for the tip about settings.

  8. September 11, 2007 at 8:01 pm

    I think I know how you’re feeling right now– my 7 year old got an eyeful of porn through a web mishap a few weeks ago. *groan* (if it helps at all I can tell you that he forgot the whole thing immediately even while it bothered me for the rest of the afternoon!)

    And comments like the first one or panicked, knee-jerk reactions don’t help either, do they?

    In a former life I was a webmaster for an Internet Safety project sponsored by the European Commission. (http://www.saferinternet.org) We provided information to parents and teachers on how to deal with exposures to nuisances like porn, spam, phishing, etc.

    If it’s any comfort I can tell you that studies show that kids who get exposed to these things by stumbling upon them do not seem to be adversely affected by it.

    The most important thing you can do is talk to your child openly about the issue and make sure she knows she can come to you if she comes across something that makes her uncomfortable. (which she probably will, eventually. It’s unavoidable in our wired culture.)

    It sounds like your wife has already spoken with her, and your own gut instinct is that she will probably have already forgotten the incident by the time you get back.

    The other major advice that the country offices offered was to keep the computer in an open area, like the family room. that way you can keep loose track of her surfing habits and lessen the already small chance of her coming into contact with predators.

    If you want to take a look at what the German node has to say about addressing this and other issues there’s info at:

    http://www.klicksafe.de/

    In the meantime, give yourself a break! You didn’t knowingly expose her to something that goes against your values! She stumbled upon it, and if it hadn’t happened on your computer at home it could have happened at a friend’s house, at Grandma’s, at school or anywhere else she has access to the internet!

    Porn is out there and accessible to kids of every age group through so many different kinds of media. It’s just not possible to shield them from mixed messages about their sexuality. the best thing you can do is talk openly with her about sex and answer any questions she might come up with…

  9. September 11, 2007 at 8:15 pm

    BTW, when I mentioned “panicked reactions” I wasn’t referring to you. I was just rubbed the wrong way by the faithfamilyfarm person who immediately linked your situation with her sons’ porn addiction.

    Her example is so extreme anyway– if it’s even true I am sorry for her, but it really has absolutely nothing to do with your post… (and the fact that she didn’t leave a URL to link to makes me think she’s probably a troll (someone who leaves evil made-up comments) anyway.)

  10. September 11, 2007 at 9:18 pm

    hi Betsy, and thanks for those long and informative comments. i know porn is everywhere and i can’t shield her from it. as a matter of fact this already happened before, but that time – about a year and a half ago now – it was in a hotel where a glitch allowed the hardcore pay channels to be seen freely. We dealt with it the same way my wife did now – answered all her questions, didn’t panic, etc. still, it’s not what you want to happen, is it?

    i’m setting up her own login account with filters set on high and favourites put in so that she doesn’t have to go googling or whatnot to go where she wants. i talked to her while i was working on it this afternoon, said i was doing it so that she wouldn’t have to come across those pictures again, and she said ok, that’s good.

  11. September 12, 2007 at 4:44 pm

    I don’t know if this helps, but my kid learned about the birds and the bees in the one place we are not together: the tubes in the Burger Kind Playplace.

    I was sooo disappointed! I am not squeamish of this subject at all and was looking forward to “the talk” when he naturally began to question. OH I felt ROBBED!

    So I guess I just backtracked to find out exactly what he knew and then told him again with my spin on it.

    (((((HUGS))))) sandi

  12. 12 Brock Landers
    September 12, 2007 at 5:14 pm

    Unfortunately kids are growing up faster and faster these days and at 10 they are exposed to way too much to be ignored. As uncomfortable as it is, they need to be spoken to at this age.

  13. September 12, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    thing is, we feel very comfortable talking to our daughter about sex, and she’s open with her questions. it’s having it shoved in your face unexpectedly – as it were – that we didn’t like.

    And she certainly hasn’t been lacking in proper education outside the home either – I’m thinking of the time she came home and flopped a condom on the table.

  14. September 12, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    Your daughter is ten.. At ten, she should already know the basics of what sex is, because, to be frank, she could start developing at any time now (usually 13, but it happens sooner), so pornography should just be explained as what it is–entertainment for people. Explain that oral sex is just something that people do to show affection, but also tell her all the risks involved.

    Though I’m sure that it will be hard to talk to your own little girl about these things, but soon, she isn’t going to be little anymore.

  15. 15 Zev Nyklus
    March 13, 2008 at 4:08 am

    I think its nice that you are open to talking to your kid about sex. Though I must admit I am speaking years before I have kids of my own to talk to, I do have nephews who constantly come up with the weirdest questions and I’m sure will come up with this one pretty soon.

    As for the porn thing, I don’t think it would be the best idea to monitor them every time even if all you want is to prevent them from stumbling on it accidentally. The thing is, if they DO stumble on it accidentally even, you wont be able to do anything before they’ve had a good few seconds of staring at the site.

    As to why i dont think its a good idea to monitor them – well it really is true… the more you try to put restrictions on something, the more curious they will get about it and sooner or later they will find a way to work around you and then will actually end up spending more time on porn sites than if they were to land up on them per chance.

    I think the safest way to go is filters. And of course leaving them to do what they want after that!

    Oh and I do agree with Brock and Lady that kids nowadays learn things A LOT faster than you can imagine. And even with titus that it would be best if your daughter heard it from you first than from someone else

  16. March 13, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    Zef – oh, absolutely. Give it an aura of mystique and like you say, they’ll only be more curious about it. We are pretty up front about telling her about as much as we can when the subject comes up, and actually it has turned out quite well. I don’t think it’s going to make her uneasy about her own sexuality, which was my main concern.


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