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12 year old daughter looking at porn on the web

Sept 2009

I have discovered that my 12 year old daughter has gone on a porn site a few times and I am obviously concerned, not happy about those images being so available to her and the objectification of sex etc. I am not sure how to proceed. I don't know a lot about blocks. I told her that I was thinking about putting a block up so that she could only go on approved website and she was very upset by this because she likes to be able to discover new websites, mostly quite innocent, and I don't mind her using the computer in this way. I definitely want to have a conversation with her about this but am also sensitive to making her feel ashamed about this, which I don't want to do. If anyone is open to sharing their experience in this realm, and also any suggestions about different forms of control for the internet. Not wanting to take away all her privacy but also not wanting to ignore this slippery slope. concerned mom


I had this with my son last year, when he was eleven. I spoke to him as you probably have spoken to your daughter, explaining that I understood that he was curious about sex, that he wanted to learn more and that it was exciting. But I also talked about how porn is a fantasy, how it objectifies and abuses people, and how it can become addictive and replace real intimacy with fantasy. And then I got him some books about sex for kids his age. And I told him that I would check to make sure that he wasn't using our home computer to look at these sites. Perhaps your daughter is more astute or computer literate than my son, but he didn't realize that the browser has a history and that I can check it. All he knows is that I seem to know (supernaturally) when forbidden sites have been viewed, and he has ceased and desisted. Treating this matter-of-factly and offering substitute sources of information (if not titillation -- the books aren't very useful on that score....) seemed to help a lot. You can go into details with your daughter about how sites usually modify how bodies look, how they place women in the role of sex slaves or take away their dignity in other ways, etc. This provides a good forum for talking about how to value one's own body and dignity. Good luck! another mom of a pre-teen
Oh, I'm sorry. I know how that feels. I wish I would have put a filter on the computer sooner, but naively didn't think it was time yet. We now use SafeEyes, http://www.internetsafety.com/ and are very happy with it. It took a few days to get all the filters correct so that he wouldn't get blocked on everything, but now it works great! Laura
Are she accidentally visiting these sites or is she is intentionally seeking out these web sties? YouC",b"ve got several problems. Take a look at posts last week and the week before for Naughty Facebook Chat and Facebook Safety for 12 year old.

If any of the images your daughter is viewing involves minors you have got a bigger problem. You ISP will notify the FBI who will be monitoring your account and activity. Take a look at what happened to Julie Amero, (State of Connecticut v. Julie Amero). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_of_Connecticut_v._Julie_Amero -


Tell her something that gives her the message that kids are curious and thats normal, but porn is very uncool. The people who produce it, perform in it, and consume it...are not the kind of people you want to hang out with. It also gives you weird ideas about relationships, and bodies, and self image, and sex. If you want to see naked mammals having sex, watch the Nature Channel:) Cool vs not-cool
In response to 12-year-old daughter and pornography on internet, a few comments. First, unfortunately it is nearly impossible to block these sites successfully. pink.com for example, an extremely graphic website, has all sorts of tricks to avoid blocking. Better to have heart-to-hearts about objectification of body or whatever sensibility re: sex you wish to impart. Also note, for those teen anime (manga) lovers, there are actually anime pornography sites (''hantei''). In my opinion, there is no way to avoid the graphic sexual images and distorted messages for kids-- internet, TV, peers--welcome to the real world, for better or worse. Maintaining a conversation about real intimacy, the emotional power and beauty of sex, and noncensorious understanding of curiosity have strengthened openness with my son, now 17. As in, crisis=opportunity. or, as, Mr Rogers said ''You never have to be afraid of the truth.'' mapless but learning
OMG! (oh my gosh to newbies) You let your 12 y.o. on the internet without a safety net, password, filter, knowing her passwords, anything? You are inviting millions of strangers right into your living room. First get and read this book - ''Safety Monitor: How to Protect Your Kids Online'' written by Det. Mike Sullivan. No, first get your 12 year old off the computer. You need to give her the illusion of privacy, but you need to have complete control over the computer. 8 years ago my then 13 y.o. daughter met someone in a chat room and began a relationship. We didn't have the resources available that we have now, so the consequence was that she pretty much had no privacy.

Eventually, she will mature enough to gain priveledges from you, but until then you need to have all of her passwords, restrict sites, get keylogging software, lock out porn, no my space etc. Please be internet safe. Too many children - especially young girls - are victimized this way. Good luck to you. been there twice


My 11 yr. old clicked on porn site mentioned by classmate

August 2009

I am extremely distressed as my 11 1/2 yr. old boy went on a porn site mentioned by a classmate. I know about it b/c it happened on my computer, which does not have parental controls and I check the history regularly. I saw it within an hour and discussed it with him, including a discussion on degradation and the business of pornography. He wanted to know why people allow such things on ''their'' websites etc. I understand people have varying degrees of tolerance and I am probably on the strict end of what I think is acceptable, but please, I am not looking for lectures. I feel sick that he has been exposed to such harsh and degrading images at his age and that, at a minimum, lewdness is so easily accessible on the net. For example, even with parental controls, I cannot block out all the incredibly vulgar and suggestive videos which fall short of official porn on youtube. What can I do to guide him appropriately over the next few years? Please advise. anon


I sympathize; when my son was 11 he googled ''sex'' and you can just imagine what came up in that search! I, too, saw in the browser history that there were some, let us say, highly suspect web page titles and I was very upset. But I thought back to when I was 11 (I can actually remember that far back still...) and remembered that around that time I started to have sexual feelings and strong curiosity. The sources of info were extremely limited, since I was afraid to talk to my parents (my beloved mother was and is, in my estimation, extraordinarily prudish). So there was nothing nefarious or abnormal about his motivation (or your son's motivation) in trying to get whatever info/stimulus he could. I think you did exactly the right thing by emphasizing the degrading factor of porn, both for the participants and the person watching, and another aspect you might point out that is very important is that this is not a realistic representation of bodies, sex, relationships, gender roles, or emotion. That is, I think, key. I went straight to a bookstore with my son and picked out a couple of the new, explicit books for teens on sex -- I think they're great. If you have values that differ significantly with those represented in the books, you can make it an opportunity to discuss why you feel and think differently. But I think you have acted well, and the main thing is to continue open communication, not stigmatize or get too uptight if you can manage it, but be honest about why you feel the way you do and what you think is important to know about sex. I don't think you can block out the internet entirely - there are plenty of places to access the internet besides your house. The essential thing is not to place blocks on the computer (which don't really work, in my experience), but to educate your child and help him grow into making good choices for his own sexual and emotional health. curious george's mama
I have web protection on my kids pc's in the home and each has its' own password to access windows AND the internet, but I didn't add it to my pc either. Now I do!

Since I also have an eleven-year old son who selected a site, because one day I had left my pc ''open'', NetNanny notified me via email of the questionable site and I am grateful that I had this program in place. I verified it to be a questionable site. It had a door that read ''when you see this van rocking, don't come knocking''! I clicked and clicked and nothing huge came up but it definitely was a site that is off limits to a child, so I entered this addy into the off-limits sites listing on my netnanny program for the future. Most site are blcoked successfully, this is one that got away, as there will be others I am sure :)

My son doesn't fight me on this stuff, but we did have a talk, same as you and your son did. Whether or not the talk worked for him, the Net Nanny will keep him OUT from ALL of the pc's when I am not right there! Good luck! lisa


I don't think you should be too worried, eventually he will be looking at porn on his own, however 11 is young, so I understand your frustration. I think that you need to tell him that pornography puts a false light on the way women should be treated and frankly some of the sites out there portray women as objects. You need to draw the line and explain to him that porn is not real life. Here are some good links: http://theporntalk.com/porntalk/talks.asp It illustrates how to talk about porn to different age groups. I hope this helps you out. -Jake
This reply is both for the topic listed and also for the parent writing about the teen watching gay porn. I suggest to both families (and everyone else too) that you look into OWL (Our Whole Lives) sexuality education for your children.

OWL is a highly respected program originally produced collaboratively by the Unitarian Universalist Association and United Church of Christ (UCC-Congregational). However, the religious component is small--and optional.

You can find these classes at your local UU congregations and probably also at UCCs. (I am a UU education director so I can only speak for my denomination.)

OWL classes offer age-appropriate workshops about sexuality, self- worth, and respect for diversity. If kids are looking at porn, they obviously are curious and ready to learn more about the world of sex and sexuality, much of which is safe and healthy (not the porn part!) and an important part of most people's lives.

Anyway, I recommend you find the right age level class and go to the mandatory parent orientation. You can also look online at uua.org. I think there is a homeschool version too if you can't find a class, but I recommend the peer experience.

I would appreciate knowing if this advice was helpful. Tory Sonstroem, Director of Religious Education, First Unitarian Universalist Church of Stockton


In my opinion, you've already done the things that are going to guide him over the next few years; if children are brought up to respect women, they won't find much enjoyment in seeing them degraded. At your son's age some exploring and experimenting is to be expected -- I'd worry if it didn't happen -- but the values you've been inculcating for the last 11 years ought to provide enough ballast to keep him on an even keel.

I'm not a big fan of filters -- they just inspire people, especially young adolescents, to figure out ways to get around them. I do believe in keeping the computer in a public place in the house, or at least making it known that you go through the browser history regularly, just in case. John


I have 2 boys both close in age to yours. They had the exact same thing happen, a friend came over and showed them a site. But I think this is going to happen at their age. Natural curiosity. I'd rather know about it than not so I can help manage it, so I was very calm about the whole thing and we talked about different sites and what would be dangerous or not. In terms of degrading, well, some is and some isn't. Some is healthy. In Europe you see it all the time and it doesn't feel degrading. My husband was raised that way and has so much guilt around even looking at a woman sexually it is hard. So I'd rather my boys have a healthy interest in a safe way. Good luck with your decisions! anon

Teen son visiting gay porn websites

August 2009

I don't know what to make of this and I'm hoping you enlightened parents can help. I have a teen who's recent computer history shows that he's viewing gay porn - male on male. He does not know that I have been viewing his history occasionally, but yesterday he had a glitch with his computer and was demonstrating the problem when I noticed that a tab was open for gotgayporn.com. I commented on it (thinking it was a good opportunity to talk about what I had seen in the history) and he brushed me off by saying it was lesbian porn and that boys his age find it stimulating. Later in the day I looked up the site and saw lots of video clips of male on male and solo male sex acts. When I had a chance I told him what I saw when I looked up the site, and he brushed me off again, saying that what he looks at is female on female. Up until I saw this stuff, I would never have thought that my son could be gay, but its nagging at me. My husband says he has NEVER been attracted to gay sex or men. When I was in college, I had a lesbian relationship, but until it literally fell into my lap, had never had any desire to be with a woman and continued to sleep with men through that relationship. Though, as I am sure many straight women can attest, the sight of a sexy woman can be physically stimulating. Should I be probing my son further about his sexual preference or should I just let this sort itself out? Can any male parents out there comment - gay or straight? confused parent


I wouldn't compare how you or your husband are or were, it's about your son. While I'm not an advocate of teens looking at porn (it's artificial and without emotion), it could be your son is trying to figure out what he feels and who he feels it for. This is very natural at this age (though you don't say how old he is). Please don't squash it. Allow him to explore his feelings. If he is gay and wants to be open with you at some point he must know that you will accept him. My daughter was in 8th grade and had joined the Gay-Straight Alliance at her school. It was a great place for kids feel okay about each other and to help others to understand about homosexuality (and homophobia). At first I was surprised when she told me she was bi, I didn't expect it. But I got used to it. Whatever your son's sexual preferences are, he is still your baby!

Go easy and go slowly, that's my advice. Your son will gravitate to people he is comfortable with and will figure it out. Be there for him. anon


It seemed in your posting that your greatest worry is not that your son is viewing porn, but that he might be gay. Is that right? A couple of things: as I noted in a posting above (about a much younger kid), discussions about pornography (not whether the pornography is gay, lesbian, etc., but just about pornography) seem very important now. That discussion, though, should probably try to avoid harsh judgment and just stick to reasoned conversation about what might be wrong with porn. Then another issue is your access to your teenager's space and what you do with it. I agree that we need to know about what our kids are looking at and that we need to talk to them about it. I don't think internet porn in general is a good habit, especially if it replaces or negatively influences real-life relationships. But in your post it sounded a little like you might be hectoring your son. He has sexuality that is his and private, I would say. He shouldn't have to share intimately (in my humble opinion) with his mom. To put this into context, my mother (rather prudish, as I noted above) once confronted me during my teenaged years in a very upset manner and demanded to know: ''Have you been masturbating?'' Now, what would any self-respecting person say to that? We obviously didn't have the kind of relationship in which I felt I could talk to her about masturbation, as the very idea put her through the roof. I wonder whether your fears/concerns about your son's sexuality make it difficult for the two of you to talk? I would say that it might be useful for you to talk to a therapist about your concerns, or maybe contact your local chapter of PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) to see if they have a recommendation for someone sympathetic who could help you negotiate this situation (www.pflag.org). Good luck in figuring out a way to handle the changes in your son's life. curious george's mama again
If I were in your shoes, I think I'd just let him know that if he is gay, you're fine with it and will be supportive. He may still brush you off, but he'll know where you stand and will eventually feel more comfortable talking to you about it if the time comes.

I don't know whether an interest in gay porn necessarily means he's gay. My husband experimented with a gay relationship in college, but decided it was nothing more than an experiment, so there are men out there who test the waters and aren't gay. anon


Definitely gay. I am a straight man (with a gay brother), and I have NEVER met a man or boy who viewed male gay porn who wasn't gay. I have never met a man who could even look at gay porn for more than a few seconds without feeling uncomfortable and moving very quickly to something else. While it may be just a stereotype, women in general seem to be more comfortable with both male and female gay sex. And while it is true, non-gay men almost all like viewing female-on- female sex, your son is just making excuses assuming you are correct that those sites he is viewing are exclusively male on male sites. Girl on girl sites seem to be usually either sites for straight men, or specifically lesbian sites meant for straight men and/or for gay women. Male gay sites are often strictly male gay sites, nothing else, it seems.

Maybe do what I did with my daughters; I simply made this statement at an opportune moment. ''I want you to know that it doesn't matter to me AT ALL whether you prefer guys or girls. I just want you to be happy and to feel like you can talk to me about your preference in partners, male or female.''

At that point they both said of course they are into guys. And that turns out to be the case. But the point is, if they had been gay and wondering how I might react, it gave them permission, so to speak, to tell me that they were gay. They didn't have to worry about how I would react because I told them straight out that it wasn't a problem for me. sean


The way to find out if your son is gay is first to tell him that no matter what his orientation is he's your son, you love him, and that will never change. You may have to repeat that a few times. And you may have to wait months or years for an answer -- and then he may change the answer as he matures further.

The fascination with male-on-male gay porn could be just a phase, or a way of dealing with a fantasy that will always be just a fantasy, or a way of processing some experiences you haven't heard about. The cover story about ''lesbian porn'' bothers me a little -- why doesn't he think he can come clean with you? Anyway, you can't dose him with truth serum or waterboard him, so you're just going to have to let him know he's your kid no matter what and see what he's willing to tell you.

By the way, your husband's sexual proclivities and your own are not much of a clue to your son's. Straight people have gay kids, gay people have straight kids, there's no telling. John


My 14-year-old stepson has given some signals that his sexuality might go either way, and I very much agree with the other posters that the best message is one of acceptance.

I also want to recommend a web site that I recently learned about, scarleteen.com. It provides accurate, honest, funny, and accepting information about sexuality, including the emotional aspects. It's definitely queer-friendly, and has lots of information about questioning your sexuality. It's like getting information from your hip, funny, responsible 25-year-old cousin.

The folks who run the site have put a lot of the same information into a book, ''S.E.X.'' I just ordered a copy for my house. Love your kid and the rest will follow from there


I had questions about my son's sexual orientation when he was young, but by high school he showed interest in girls, so I put my thoughts on the matter aside. Once he ventured a casual ''what-if'' question about my reaction if he were gay, and I regret that I kind of brushed his question aside and didn't take it seriously. Then, after dating girls for several years, toward the end of his junior year in college he came out to me and a few close friends.

I think he had been trying to figure it all out and also navigate teenage social life, so he kept it completely to himself for a long time. We've always been very close, and I've wondered, if I had been more receptive when he brought it up, whether he might have felt comfortable in confiding sooner, and less afraid of judgment. Of course, it's also possible that he needed time to come to terms with his difference from the mainstream, and that nothing I did or did not do made a difference.

The story has a happy ending, however, as he is now 24 and very comfortable with his sexuality, as are his friends and family.

I have no advice on the porn issue, but would suggest that you stay sensitive to how difficult it is for a young person to grow up adjusting to their own differences and that you make sure your son knows you'll cherish him for who he is. Happy mother of a gay son


14-year-old son finding sexy stuff on the internet

Sept 2006

My 14 year old son has just recently been visiting what look to be soft porn sites when he thinks I am not paying attention. We have had all the safety on the internet talks, and I have said ''no porn'' as a rule. Now I am not sure what to do or how to enforce it. I am a single working mom, so he is home on his own a fair amount, and he stays up later than me. I know it is natural for boys this age to be curious (I remember the stories of our generation's boys finding Playboys in their fathers' garages), and I also know that as soon as he realizes I am checking his history he will figure out a way to hide it from me. I don't want to take his computer away, as it brings him so much pleasure & company (he is an only child), & he uses it for research. Also, 99% of the sites he visits (at least up to now) are harmless. Any suggestions from parents who have been there? Help! Anonymous


Is it possible for you to accept that your son will look at porn on the internet at this age, and talk to him about porn, about images, good things about porn, bad things about porn, etc., etc.? My (gay) 17-year-old foster son went through a porn phase with a prior foster parent at around the same age (he was 14 then, too), and it turned into a major battle that ultimately triggered separation (there were other issues, too, of course). With me, because he is older (and past the porn phase), and because I didn't really have a no porn rule (I told him that I didn't want him to download anything on my computer, and to be careful not to download anything on his own computer that would infect it or cause problems), there's been no issue with porn. YMMV
Claudia

Filtering Internet porn - 13 and 15 yo boys

Feb 2006

My boys are 15 and 13. I have installed a filtering software called ''Cyber Sitter'' to block the porn and other inappropriate information. The software is doing it's job, but my kids can still download nude and porn pictures and saved them in a file. I guess they got them from their friends through email? My 13 years-old boy can still go to websites like Victoria's Secret and Frederick's of Hollywood to look at those sexy lingerie and get excited. So please tell me what else I can do. Thanks. Still frustrated Mom


Perhaps you can talk to your sons. I find that so many parents are terrified of their children seeing naked bodies. My thought is that there are worse things, such as the violence that is often shown on television or the disrespectful way that I often see young kids acting today.

I recently came across websites on my 12 yo's computer that I was not thrilled with finding, I admit. However, I did not put a filter on it. Instead I sat down with him and explained that those sites are disrespectful to women, that many of the women shown are in very bad places in their lives and he needs to understand the background of what he's seeing. He was mostly embarrasseed by the whole thing, and will he look at them again? probably. I just feel that trying so hard to keep kids away from things draw them to it even more. Instead, communicating with them and educating them might be a better approach.

If you look to European beliefs you will see that they have far fewer problems then we do yet have a much more liberal way of handling things. -just my 2 cents


Son persists in trying to look at porn

Nov 2004

hi, my son is (understandably) very interested in all things related to sex. we discovered a few months ago that he was looking up porn on our computer that we had neglected to safeguard (his was blocked) and ordered hundreds of dollars of porn on cable (now blocked). so my concerns are that he has seen a one sided view of sex. i've already expressed my concern to him - in terms of the messages and images that porn can contain that are negative to him and to women. that that is not what he should consider to be a realistic idea of what sex is.

however, his interest is persisting - he still tries to sneak on my computer. i have thought about getting him some erotica books so he can feed his curiosity without so many of the blatant images of online porn. i'm thinking of getting some female written erotica to give him more of a sense of what women consider interesting and tend to have a healthier and more intimate view of sex.

what are the drawbacks of this idea? books to recommend?

i did already give him a book that discusses some of the biology etc that is going on in his body/head so that's covered.

your thoughts are greatly appreciated!

thank you


I had a teenaged boy (still do. He's 18) who has always had a hefty interest in sex, which by the way, I think is totally normal and healthy. I do agree that pornography is a one-sided view, but it's very hard to divert their attention to alternatives. Pornography is a turn on, and it's almost always made for the male eye, which is why the boys find it so compelling. I would not censure his porn viewing completely, becuase he will find ways to get it (my son always had a friend that had some tapes, and then of course, he found a box of porn in our garage which I didn't realize were still there). However your idea about getting him some erotica is quite sound. Although I do not think he'll find women's erotica terribly stimulating (it's that male view point again), it certainly is a good way for him to envision what women enjoy (be careful here, because there's a LOT of S/M and B/D in female erotica, as you probably know, and you don't want to compound the standard porno dogma that women like to be man handled and raped).

The best suggest I have is to go to Good Vibes -- they have a good selection of material for adolescents about their growing sexuality, and have some tamer erotica and porn as well that your son may find stimulating but that doesn't encourage the misogynstic viewpoint that most mainstream porno perpetuates. Also remember that men tend to be far more visually oriented than women, sexually, and reading isn't going to be what your son wants. He may do it out of curiousity, but it is probably not going to satisfy his desire to ogle pornography, because most likely porno is what gets him off.

Most of all, encourage open discussion. The better informed he is, the better he will be able to cope with his sexuality without feeling guilty about it, and the more open and sensitive he will be with his future partner(s).

Heather


16-year-old and teen porn sites - should I just let this pass?

March 2003

I am a single parent. My 16 year old son is a good student with little social life. I am concerned that he might be becoming addicted to internet porn. I idly checked the history of recent hits on his browser and was suprised to see the quantity of teen porn sites he had visited. He appears to spend hours a night visiting these sites. I have not told him what I have discovered. Should I just let this pass as long as he manages to fulfill his obligations or should I be concerned about long term damage? For example, is there some risk that he will have an increasingly difficult time dating girls? He seems shy and avoids encounters with them. He is becoming irritable and distant from me. (I expect that is normal for this age!) My feeling is that his sexual thoughts are his business but I do not want to make a mistake as a parent.


In response to the single mother who wondered whether her 16 years old son viewing pornography was simply a matter of being entitled ''to his own sexual thoughts'' or whether such viewing (frequent in his case) is cause for concern, it's fair to say that it should be seen as a matter to be addressed without becoming hysterical. A fair amount of research indicates that the sexual images teen age boys view (and inevitably masturbate to) become ''imprinted'' i.e. become habituated to by the reinforcement of the pleasure of ejaculation. For such a youngster to view images of women being demeaned or raped or humiliated or engaging in physically painful sexual acts could not be a good thing, and may lead to real damage in terms of developing healthy attitudes toward sex and toward women. Furthermore, it has been impossible to prevent the purveyers of child pornorgraphy from using the Internet, but you need to be aware that intentionally bringing up child pornography may subject your son to criminal prosecution, to say nothing of the fact that viewing such material is tantamount to endorsing the despicable abuse of children by the manufacturers of this repugnant material. So yes, you would do well to speak to your son in depth about this and consider obtaining a disc that serves as a Parental Controls filter, eliminating as much controversial material as possible.

Jules


Are there any parents of teenage sons who DON'T have experience with porn? I thought it was pretty normal -- I have two sons. I found that porn sites were a fairly small percentage of what they were looking at - mostly they visited music, sports and games. The only caveat I would add is to say I know from my own email inbox that there is some pretty gross stuff out there now on the internet. Makes Playboy look wholesome in comparison. Not only do you NOT have to look very hard to find it, it can arrive in your mailbox or pop up on a web browser without you even doing anything. One mistakenly-typed web address can result in a lot of cascading pop-ups of stuff you really don't want to see and probably didn't even know humans engaged in. Chances are your teen is going to also think this stuff is gross and is really just looking for more of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue type stuff. I think it is a good idea to tell him what your feelings are about porn. One way of bringing it up with your son is to say that people were talking about internet porn today in the Teens newsletter and you were just wondering if he's had a problem with gross stuff popping up on his screen or coming in to his email. Then you could talk about what YOU do when that happens. With my boys it seems like they appreciated me acknowledging that a lot of parents report their teens look at porn. I didn't tell them they couldn't look at it. I told them that I would respect their privacy because "it seems like a lot of teens do that". But they have to keep it out of my sight and they had to listen to my lecture about why I object to the T&A stuff they were looking at. a mom

My 12-year-old son has been surfing hardcore porn sites

Feb 2003

Hi, I just discovered that my almost 12 year-old son has been surfing hardcore pron sites on the net. It is very out of character and when I asked him about it he said that it was addictive and foreign at the same time. The UCB Parent home page doesn't have much info-- although I'm sure ours is not the first kid to have been tempted. The accessibility of real extreme stuff (that is overwhelming to me as an adult!) is so easy that we're not sure how to go about creating a ''safe'' zone in which there is a legitimate exploration of sexuality. I would love to hear from others as to how they coped. Thanks! A Stunned Mom


I have a 7th grader and while I know that sometimes the porn sites pop up by accident (they're incredibly devious) I also believe that sometimes he surfs or gets a referral to www.!#%!.com from his friends (we once found a magazine too). The magazine was confiscated without fanfare, when we see porn sites we say ''you really shouldn't look at this stuff'' and tell him again why but don't punish him, and we have ongoing discussions about sex (to my surprise he really didn't know EXACTLY how intercourse was done), respecting yourself enough to only engage in caring relationships built on mutual respect (including engaging in sex with oneself as being in this category when done in private!!), and how pornography disrespects women and that in fact the women potrayed are living examples of self mutilation (fake hair, surgical altered noses, lips, breasts, buttocks, thighs, and some even remove molars and ribs!!). That actually grossed him out. But basically, we don't freak about the issue and I think our rather matter of fact approach has minimized the attraction but I don't expect that he'll NEVER check out a porn site (hey, my husband checks out the Victoria Secrets catalogue and the swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated from time to time, despite theoretically agreeing with me on how its so adolescent!!). Karen H.

My 13 year old son has been looking at nude photos of women

1999

I recently found out by accident that my 13 year old son has been looking at nude photos of women on the web when I am not home. While this seems the current version of a boy putting the Playboy under his mattress, I would be interested to hear points of view of how to handle this. While my inclination is to do and say nothing, I have some of my own objections to this type of objectification of women and sex. I also don't like the spam that results from him having searched these sites, which accelerates the temtation and opportunity in a way a newsstand never did. Any comments or advice welcome.


I am also concerned, and would be grateful for discussion of this issue. My 15 year old son is downloading not only nude photos but also short video clips of live sex. At the moment, he's not aware that I'm aware - he has his own computer in his own room, and so I'm uncertain how to proceed since my knowledge is an invasion of his privacy. I also find pornography distasteful, but I'm not naive about this phase of adolescence. The videoclips are the most disturbing to me... I figure I'd start by finding an article in a magazine or newspaper about pornography, and just 'idly' start a conversation about how I feel about the girls who choose to do this, how sad that they are allowing themselves to be viewed in this way--try to prod him to reflect on how these materials are created. Other ideas? It's very very easy for kids to access 'adult-only' websites. Anonymous
I stumbled across some bookmarked XXX web sites on the family computer a few years ago - I have teenage sons. I was concerned because I consider myself a feminist, have tried to raise my sons to be so, and have always thought most porn to be degrading to women. I talked to a few friends about it and heard especially from the dads that this is really typical teen male behavior and maybe not healthy to forbid it. So here is what I did, and it has worked really well. I told my kids that I heard from other parents that teenage boys look at porn a lot. I said I think porn might make people think that all women are big-breasted fluffy-heads who want to have sex all the time, and women are not like that. I said I am sure they understand that porn is total fantasy and has nothing to do with reality. Then I said it is fine with me if they look at it in private on the computer as long as they understand this. I said that I do not ever want to come across any magazines lying around the house or see any X-rated web pages pop up when I sit down to use the computer. Then I showed them how to make their own bookmarks on Netscape and I told them that I would respect their privacy and not snoop around in their bookmarks as long as they kept their part of the agreement. The younger son then 13 was very embarassed by the whole discussion and said nothing. The older son said "Great! Thanks Mom. Does that mean you will get me a subscription to Playboy?" (ha! of course not!)

This has been our policy for the past three years, and there have been no incidents, no problems whatever. I think they do sometimes look at porn but it seems to be a very thin slice of their total computer time. They mainly want to play computer games and look at sports and music. I think my being matter-of-fact about it has made it much less alluring than it would have been if I'd become preachy and emotional about it.

A good way to start a conversation: "In the Parents of Teens newsletter today, some of the parents were talking about their kids looking at porn on the web ..."

Anonymous


I would like to respond to the parent whose son is looking at Internet porn. I'm ashamed to say that my 18 year old son, who lives at home, was doing the same thing. I'm not going to address the issue of it being okay or not (I find Playboy offensive, and Internet porn is light-years worse than Playboy). But I am going to post A WARNING: there are porn sites on the Internet (where anyone with full access to the Net can go) which can cut off your normal Net server and redial to another country, at which point you begin to accrue enormous phone charges that appear as international phone calls on your phone bill. The charges can be more than $6 per minute. The warning box (that pops up at all porn sites, I'm told) looks innocent enough - it tells the viewer that the material they are about to see is adult material and you must be 18 years or older to see it. At the bottom is a box that says, "I agree." But unless one scrolls down the warning box, you don't see that the site is for pay. Somehow, the company is able to bypass the need for a credit card and can dial directly from your line. You won't get any warning of this until your phone bill arrives. My son accrued over $185 in charges without realizing it.

AT&T will not forgive these charges. I have already filed a complaint about this to the FCC and the FTC. If anyone else has had this problem they also should file a complaint. What AT&T can do is block your phone from dialing international phone numbers unless you give the operator a password. What you can do is limit your son's access to porn by setting parental controls on the Net. AOL and Earthlink allow you to customize, to a degree, the kind of sites your son can access. I believe there are a number of programs you can buy that do the same thing. -Anonymous


I just want to encourage you to use this as an opportunity to discuss your values re sexuality with your son and find out how he feels about what he has seen. It is not easy, I know, to actually sit down and have that conversation. As knowledgeable and sophisticated as we are about these things, it is tough when it is our own child. My 15 year old son has not been too interested in porn but I know he talks about these things with his friends. I made it a point to sit down with him and share my perspectives on relationships and what it means to be in a trusting, loving relationship. In other words, what I think would need to be present in his relationship with someone before he is ready for sex. Some examples, could he share his deepest feelings with his partner and have them respected and vice versa, did each of them follow through on their commitments to each other, could they discuss birth control and stds in a open and caring way? I told my son that we needed to discuss these issues now and open up a dialogue because when the time came that he was seriously considering sex with someone, he probably would want his privacy about it. We also talked about the time and energy it takes to have an intimate relationship and the balance of this with other aspects of his life. There is also the issue of peer pressure and how to handle this. I tried to convey the message to my son that I think sex is a good thing and that it is wonderful to enjoy ourselves in this way. Finally, there is such a big difference between porn and real relationships and I think this needs to be addressed. The issue of objectifying women and men is a big one. There is also the issue of the amount of time he is looking at this material and what your limits are about this. This is all probably too much to cover in one sitting with a 13 year old, but just wanted to share my perspective on it. Additionally, does your son have other materials on hand that provide factual information as well as teen perspectives? There are some good books at Codys on this material. Its a big topic, but I really admire you for facing the issue and support your efforts on your son's behalf. By the way, I did take the parenting of teens class with Bonnie Baldwin which she offers periodicly and one of the classes goes into this in more detail. Good luck. C.
This is in response to the person who posted that their son was viewing pornography on-line. I strongly believe that this is not just something that teen boys do -- i.e., "boys will be boys". I believe it can be extremely harmful. What is a teen boy going to do with all this sexual stimulation? How can a parent know if their son (or daughter) is going to become addicted to porn or take actions to duplicate what they've seen on-line in real life? My experience with an organization whose exclusive focus was counseling teen sexual abusers (and victims) was that many of their clients had merely listened to telephone sexual sites (this was some years ago before everyone had pc's at home). This level of sexual stimulation prompted sexual experimentation with younger siblings, cousins, neighbors, etc. My child (now a teen) was one of these victims. Please consider the risks and take measures to stop the horror of sexual abuse from cycling through our culture. Allowing teens to view porn is dangerous not only for the viewer but for potential victims of sexual abuse resulting from the actions of sexually stimulated porn viewers. I URGE all parents to take this issue and research it thoroughly. Become an expert on sexual abuse by reading case studies of abusers and the abused. It can be surprising to learn who these people are and what their backgrounds are. Anonymous
At our house we've found that even if our son does not go looking for porn online, there is really no way to keep him from ever seeing it. So far he has been "grossed out" by media, including movies, that "go too far." He is 13 and I expect at some point his curiosity about pornography will make itself known. Right now he uses the computer only for research or online games. I know which sites he visits because I also use his machine to check pages I've designed on mine.

Porn has become more of a problem for me than for him because I do most of my work online. While I am not in favour of censorship, I think porn site owners should be MUCH more responsible about honest advertising. I cannot count the number of times I've clicked a link thinking I would find subject-specific material only to end up having a tasteless gynecological photo splashed on my screen. I know that all major search engines have changed the way they index pages to prevent owners from forcing their sites to the top of a hit list but they cannot control false indexing.

Another problem is the domain names. If I were to type in "www.(porn related word).com I would expect to find exactly that. But if I type "www.(something not even remotely X rated).com I don't appreciate being taken to the "Den of Desire"

Even more frustrating is the new code that does not allow you to immediately back out of the site. Many sites have embedded code that takes you to another porn site if you use the back button or try to close the window. We have yet to find a filter to prevent these pages from taking over. If anyone has had this problem and found a solution, please let me know! Renay


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