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My Kid Found Porn Online: Here’s What I Wish I’d Done Differently

kids and pornography parental controls on devices
Family LifePost Category - Family LifeFamily Life

What age did you imagine your child might encounter pornography on the internet? I hadn’t given it that much thought, but it seemed a couple of years away at least. I was wrong, he was 7

Children have had unprecedented access to devices this year. It’s been a challenge for everyone to adjust to our new normal, and technology has played a huge part. It’s enabled families to stay in touch around the world, adults to work remotely, and children to continue their schooling even if they couldn’t attend in person. But allowing kids access to devices and the internet can open a Pandora’s box of problems that you and your child may not be ready for.

Screen Time Limits for Kids Aren’t Enough

We had been diligent monitors of our son’s ‘screen time’, ensuring some screen-free days during the week, and making sure he didn’t watch for too long on Sunday mornings. We deleted YouTube from the family iPad early on, and more recently deleted YouTube Kids too. He was allowed to play Minecraft and Pokemon Go, or watch Netflix. Googling things wasn’t something we’d worried about, and certainly hadn’t warned him against. We considered ourselves a tech-savvy family and were aware of the availability of parental controls in an objective way. But we hadn’t set them up.

After a dodgy looking virus warning popped up on the old iPhone we use for Audible, my husband did some investigating and quickly turned up some alarming web pages that had been left open. As we looked through the search history we realised my son and his friend had curiously typed ‘naked girls’ into Google during a recent playdate and from there had easily discovered some very graphic pornographic content.

talking to kids about pornography and sex, parental controls are important
Talking to Kids About Sex

Having put off the birds and bees conversation, we were forced to quickly bring him up to speed. We have now had many healthy discussions around sex, how babies are made, consent, and what’s appropriate for kids vs adults. But we’ve also had to explain things that I’d hoped we were years away from discussing. And issues of body image, exploitation, and realistic depictions of healthy sexual relationships (and the unrealistic ones that appear in pornography), are still waiting to be discussed. I wish we’d talked about sex sooner, but am grateful to have had the conversation prompted. We were able to discuss the facts largely without embarrassment; the only moment when I struggled to maintain my composure was when he asked me if I’d had sex and I told him of course, that’s how we had made him. ‘So how many times have you had sex’, he asked, ‘just that one time…?’

How to Protect Your Kids From Porn Online

Pornography is illegal in Singapore, and the country maintains a symbolic blacklist of 100 sites such as Pornhub and Redtube, but it’s not a failsafe. For a 7-year-old, hardcore porn was just a click away. We have since implemented Apple’s Content and Privacy Restrictions and I cannot recommend enough that other parents do the same. If you think your kids are too young, do it anyway. I will continue to regret that we did not have this in place. Unfortunately, this has become a new item on the safety checklist for dropoff playdates; will there be unsupervised screen time, do you have parental controls in place…? We have become ‘those parents’ but as parents, our role is to advocate for our children, regardless of how awkward it might make us feel.

For information on how to talk to kids about sex in an age-appropriate way, click here.
For information on how to talk to kids about porn and sexting, click here.

The mama who wrote this post has chosen to remain anonymous to protect her family’s identity.

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Lead image via Pexels, image #2 via Pexels

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