May 27, 2008

Pictures of Pornography: When Children find it

By AnonMom

Hey, all you LDS Moms and Dads! You've got a problem with pornography. I'm a mom of six amazing, good, active LDS kids, and we have a problem with pornography. It's not "out there", it's right here, in our homes, in our cars, following our kids at school and wherever they go in the community.

Anywhere there's a computer with internet access, or a computer with WiFi capability close to another computer with WIFI access, an IPOD, PDA, gaming console, or a cell phone or any other device with "intelligent" capacity, all the pornography in the world is right there. And you don't have to go looking for it to find just shows up sometimes, even if you're being careful, sometimes it's just there.

You know it happens, moms and dads, becuase if you use the internet at all, it has probably happened to you. You type in some innocuous search words and you get a screen full of links...some of which may have something to do with what you were looking for, and some.....that make your eyes bug out and your jaw drop. Or you're innocently perusing an apparently squeaky clean website, and some incredibly inappropriate popup appears. You didn't want to see that stuff, but there it is. You're an adult, and you know to shut it down and get out of there. But what about your kids? The same stuff has happened to them.

It is inevitable that our kids will encounter pornography at one point or another as they use computers and computer related devices. Sometimes they seek it out, and sometimes it just pops up before their eyes. As with many other ugly things, we may not want to talk about it, or think about it. But, as with any real danger, we don't get any good out of ignoring it and hoping it won't bother us. We need to assume our kids have either encountered pornography already, or will soon. We need to do all we can to prevent problems, but we also need to be prepared to deal with the aftermath. We don't help anyone by sticking our heads in the sand.

Of my six children, two have had issues with pornography before the age of 14. They found it accidentally, their curiosity was piqued, and they looked. That's not good. It's a sin. But think about what it's like to be 12 or 13, when you're just starting to be extremely interested in the opposite sex. It's pretty hard for an adult to look the other way, and it's almost impossible for a kid. And then there's the shame. They don't want to tell you what they saw (how embarrassing to talk to mom or dad about that!) and they especially don't want to admit that they KEPT looking, or looked for more. So the problem may not get solved right away....and now the temptation is stronger.

Some people mentally diminish the seriousness of pornography because they're not really "doing anything" to anyone. They don't classify it as a sexual sin because they're not having sex with anybody. They are only looking at pictures. They can do that fully dressed in Sunday clothing, sitting bolt upright at the computer. How bad can that be? Many, many apparently good latter day saints develop addictions to pornography, using this as their excuse.

We parents had no clue that our kids were looking at pornography. We were taking the basic precautions. We had filters in place, browser control management, our computer was in the living room. We monitored what the kids were doing on the internet. What we didn't consider is that children are far more tech savvy that most adults. They know how to find passwords, to enable and disable filters, to erase internet history. We found out what was going on only when their guilt and distress got so bad that they started having emotional problems. I'm glad they were good enough kids to feel guilt, because that led to intervention, confession, help, and eventually, healing.

The scary thing about pornography, like any really effective Satanic tool, is that it has a wide range of effects on its victims. Some come away apparently unscathed. Others are utterly ruined. What might seem like just a dirty little secret to some is the destruction of temporal and eternal life for others. I wish there was a bright red warning continually on every computer screen stating "when you view pornography you degrade, exploit and dehumanize the human beings it depicts, commit the same crimes on yourself, jeopardize your chances of ever having a normal intimate relationships, and may destroy your own soul. The End" That is what Satan would LOVE to have happen.

Our kids are OK now. We didn't get rid of the internet, though I wanted to. We are stricter about who uses what devices where and when. Our family will never have phones or IPODS with video and internet compatibility (ask your high school kids about photos that get sent from phone to phone) We check up on people more. The kids know that if we find internet history tampered with, the computers will be gone. We will never assume that everything is hunky dory, and "our kid wouldn't do that". Because our kids are the kind who wouldn't do that, and they did. They are human, just as we are, and the problem is right here with us, all the time.


NoSurfGirl said...

note from Nosurfgirl: here is a link to a very nice article with lots of good advice for parents who have discovered their children viewed pornography.

Anonymous said...

This was eye-opening...and scary too.

NoSurfGirl said...


I hope not too scary. I don't want to scare people with this series... I want to help them feel like they can help each other, their children, spouses, friends, congregation members and all that... I think I was more scared about things like pornography before I encountered it head-on and had to deal with the possibility of people I love looking at it.

I'm glad it was eye-opening. :)

Stephanie said...

Thanks for this post and the link. It is eye-opening and helpful.

Bull Moose said...

It's comforting knowing that other parents have gone through the same thing we have. My wife was devastated when our oldest son had his first encounter at a friend's house and it spiraled downward at home - he was 11.

When he had a relapse a year later, I was more devastated because he now had the Aaronic Priesthood. D & C 84, the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood, came to my mind and I felt sorrow for him.

He and his siblings now complain about the "unfair" restrictions: internet filtering; no text messaging; cell phone charges in our room when they are home. But he understands the reasons and hopefully appreciates them.

One concern that he brought up as he got older and we had to pray about was our restrictions limiting his agency. The answer for us was: our house, our rules no matter how old you are. But, my wife is concerned about his future when he's out on his own. Like kids whose parents don't have 'junk food' in the house will gorge themselves on Ho-hos and potato chips at a friend's house, are we denying him the opportunity to build his own self-control?

NoSurfGirl said...

Good question, Bull Moose. Almost and unanswerable one... I have someone who will be talking about computer internet filtering/controls and the issues involved (good, bad, useful, useless), and I think that has something to do with your question.

Anyone else want to take a crack at it?

Bull Moose said...

I look forward to that post.

For my family, I think we have found a good solution with the built-in controls on OSX Leopard. It provides content filtering that so far (knock on wood) has performed the way we want it, plus it provides logging, although not as robust as I would like.

Keep up the great work!

Anonymous said...

As with any other tempting thing, we know that our children can find pornography out there in "the world" if they want it.

I don't see anything wrong with making home a temptation-free-zone as much as possible. This is not an infringement on agency or a crutch. It's just common sense.

Kids always have the agency to choose to do whatever it is that they want to do...once they are past the stage where we can pick them up and move them, we truly can't MAKE THEM do anything. They choose. We, however, can choose to to set limits on what we permit and encourage in our family, and in our homes.

Even if a kid never had a problem with porn, there are lots of things happening with cell phones, text messaging, IM ing, etc, that you don't want your kids to have to deal with.

In my very limited experience (my children and friends' children, all "good kids"... we have experienced 1)strangers connecting with our children on IM "doing research for a book on teenagers" "looking for friends" etc...multiple examples of this, 2) had a mentally unstable boy keep a girl he liked on the phone all night long, threatening to commit suicide (he did make the attempt while he was talking to her but did not succeed... that poor girl listened to the whole thing thinking she had to try to help),
3) had a scarily possessive boyfriend calling his girlfriend at odd hours in the middle of the night to make sure she was home, 4)had "homemade" porn (somebody decided to take nude photos of themselves with their cellphone) broadcast from one cellphone to all of that person's contacts at the high school. 5) kids cheating on tests using texting...text someone and ask for the answers! 6) kids being sexually harrassed, threatened, bullied, etc, via cellphone calls and texting.

That kind of stuff happens ALL THE TIME. Parents always find out by accident, after the fact, because they are out of the loop...unless they're checking the cellphones, etc. daily. If someone called your kid ten times a day on your landline, you'd know it, but not if it's on the cellphone.

Ask your kids. If they're not scared of you (or scared you're going to take their equipment away from them) they can tell you LOTS of stories like this. Most of the time they think it's just normal, because it's so common.