Have you talked to your children about pornography?
With 12% of all websites on the Internet being pornographic, and the average child first seeing porn online at age 11, it's important to talk to your children about pornography.
I thought I was being a good parent by proactively talking to my kids about what I often blog about: being kind online to others; discussing what online bullying is; how to help others that may be bullied, and how not to be a bully. I've talked a lot about sexting, (all at age-appropriate levels of course), as well as why it isn't appropriate for non-family adults, or adult strangers to talk to kids online. I explained the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act to them, and what it meant.
I really thought I had my bases covered. I didn't. I found I left out a big and very important topic: pornography.
If it wasn't for a recent chat with another mom at our school science fair, I probably would have missed discussing this topic with my children.
The story she told me was that at the lunch table, the 4th and 5th graders were talking about a site called "boobs dot com". They were encouraging each other to go check it out. My son hadn't mentioned this particular conversation with me, so I accessed the site through a non-home computer and the site had little to do with its name—needless to say, it was much more explicit than I anticipated. I was thankful that the site wasn't accessible through our home computers.
“With 12% of all websites on the Internet being pornographic, and the average child first seeing porn online at age 11, it's important to talk to your children about pornography.”
I talked to my son about the lunch-time conversation, and his first reaction was denial that the conversation took place to begin with. Then after a sit-down at the kitchen table, it came out that he wanted to see if it was "really true that Vanessa Hudgens took a picture of her boobs." My son told me that he even went to Yahoo! to see if he could find the photos there, but nothing came up.
We then had a frank discussion about what pornography is; why it's wrong; how it diminishes respect for each person; how Vanessa made a decision that she surely regrets; and how he should tell me or his dad if he knows anyone who’s sending naked photos or sharing website addresses with other kids because it's not okay.
I was disappointed with myself for not having already discussed such an important topic.
Maybe it was because we’ve all become numb to pornography statistics. It’s expected that we will be exposed, and that our kids will. Maybe it's because we use the safety control features on our browser and that’s supposed to be enough. Maybe it's because of the recent increase in media attention surrounding cyberbullying and sexting caused pornography to be overshadowed. I'm not quite sure. What I am sure of is that I made a mistake. I should have talked to my younger children about this topic. I tell them they can ask me anything and not get in trouble, but I missed this one.
Supports the argument that our younger children shouldn't have their own email addresses until they're much older.
These statistics are grim. Don't be too late with the conversation. I encourage you to include this topic in the discussions with your kids about Internet safety. I also encourage you to use the technology tools that are available to help provide a safety-first family experience in your home.
Mary Kay Hoal – Yourspere.com
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