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Saved by the Dr. Bell

Internet and the Growing Curious Boy

InternetboyIn my youth, exposure to pornography was limited to pictures in hidden Playboy magazines. Now, with a few clicks your son can visit websites of torture, rape, and further humiliation of women. Nowadays, a boy can stream videos in the privacy of his own room.

There is no proof that pornography leads to a criminal deviant mind, but it can teach a boy about sex and women. If you allow pornography to the the sex educator of your son, you risk teaching him that girls and women enjoy being sexually used, dominated and humiliated by men. Pornography will teach your son to objectify women, and treat them as toys for their own sexual gratification. Pornography does not teach tenderness, caring, or love. Without proper guidance, our boys will be overwhelmed with thoughts and ideas that degrade love and will not lead to lifelong fulfilling relationships.

Boys and girls grow and develop differently and at different ages. When is the best time to confront these issues? My guess is to start around 5th and 6th grade. These are the ages that children are curious about their sexuality and may start exploring. But, it is important to realize that sexuality and maturity changes thru the years, and our approach and tactics change with them.

Sadly, I have few recommendations regarding protecting our children from online graphic images. I have researched parental restrictions on my MacAir, Desktop Mac, iPad, and iPhone, and have found this to be increasingly frustrating. There are, however, steps that responsible parents should take to prevent their children from seeing graphic images, and to confront their children with the realities of love, sex, and relationships.

To prevent pornographic exposure:

    1. Parental Controls:

      Many children have iPhones these days. It can be a great convenience to be able to contact and locate your child at a moment's notice. The price for this convenience is your child’s access to the World Wide Web anywhere and at any time.

      Before giving your child a smart phone, set up the parental controls. It is easy enough on the iPhone and iPad: Settings > General > Restrictions > Enable Restrictions. Set a 4 digit Passcode. You can prevent your child from downloading apps, surfing the web, and doing FaceTime. Under “Allowed Content” you can restrict websites to Limit Adult Content or even restrict access to specific websites.

    2. Restrict computers and phones to outside the bedroom and keep computers in “high traffic” areas.

      When your child is alone in their room, you have no control over their use. Make this the law in the house. (the added benefit is cutting down on distractions like YouTube, Netflix, or simple web surfing during homework time!)

    3. Review your child’s internet history

      Make it the rule in the house to NOT clear internet histories. This is the honest way to see what your child is viewing online.

    4. Monitor your child’s Facebook, Instagram, or other social network sites.

      I believe it is not an invasion of privacy for parents to have access to their online conversations. This is important to see who your child is talking to, what they are talking about, and to see if your child is being solicited by older people.

    5. Talk to your child.

This is the hardest one. We all have sexual thoughts. We do. As much as we want to deny this, our children will grow into sexual beings. As parents and adults we all have our hang-ups, and fears and avoidance issues. But this is a serious subject and important for our child’s development.

I have a friend who wrote a great letter to his son after he found evidence of him surfing pornographic sites. I recommend reading this, perhaps downloading it and giving it to your pre-teen son as a starting point for an honest discussion about sex, love, and relationships:

"Mark,

You will find that the computer is locked…and you know why. Yesterday is the second time—about which I am aware—that you have used the computer to surf the websites that I have told you not to visit.

You are doing well in school, you are getting your work done without much prompting, you are working hard at three sports, you are singing in the a cappella group and participating in student council, you are helping your seriously disabled coach and by all accounts you are being a good big brother and son. Mom and I are very proud of you and very happy with the way you have been exercising responsibility. Surfing porn does not erase all of that; it does not make you a bad person. Although it is perfectly normal to be curious and excited by pornography, it can be harmful to you.

It can be harmful because of the images and videos on the internet are distortions of reality. They depict women as objects and depict sex as some type of mistreatment of women. It is an unhealthy view of sex and relations between adults. Viewing this material as you are sexually maturing can affect the way you feel about and relate to women. This is not a question of choices you will later make in relationships, it is a question of conditioning your brain and affecting normal sexual arousal. You should be able to be sexually aroused at the thoughts of women or the mere appearance of them dressed seductively or in a state of undress. Sex is a mutual act of intimacy between two people; it is not something one person does to the other. By watching these images for sexual enjoyment, you will unwittingly condition yourself to this type of stimulation and it can affect your real life relationships with women at a later date.

I am not just forbidding you to watch hardcore pornography; I am also explaining why it is forbidden. I want you to understand that this can harm you. I know that it seems private and that no other people are involved, but there are other people involved. Women are sometimes abused and forced to perform in these videos—even if it looks like they are enjoying themselves. Also, when you go on a pornography website, you allow access into our computer from people outside of our home. You are not alone when you are on the internet. The people who provide this information know what you are looking at. These people cannot be trusted.

There is more to talk about and Mom and I need to discuss how to help you to understand and not do it again. I wish this stuff was not out there. When I was your age this stuff was only available to adults and they had to go to creepy stores to get it. I know it is tempting at your age to want to look at this stuff, but it is not good. I love you very much, and that is why it is so upsetting to me that you are exposed to this material.

Do your homework.

Love,
Dad"

This is what I have for now. Let me know if you have other ideas or thoughts on approaching young pre teens and teens with regards to sex, sexuality, and online viewing.