Tuesday, March 1, 2016

My Son, The Statistic

Not too long ago I heard about a study that found 100% of 14-year-old boys who had internet access in their bedrooms used it to search for porn.


Yep. 100%. I hadn't even heard of a study with such strong results before, but...really...not SO surprising when you think about it. Well, our son was 11 when I heard that. Time was short, so I took a deep breath, sat James and his best friend, Pugly, down, and explained (as age-appropriately as I could) that - while it might SEEM appealing - internet porn is a bad idea in the long run. They listened. I think James even HEARD some of my impassioned pleas. But, yeah...I don't even think the pug bought what I was selling.




Proactive measures were called for. James didn't have a computer in his room, but he had his Kindle with internet access. I shut the internet capability off. There. Done and done. ...Then I remembered that he has an iPod Touch...also with internet capability. So we instituted a "no-iPod-in-your-bedroom rule". Whew...dodged that one! Then last year (when he was 12) James and a friend from school got busted doing an online search for "boobs" at his friend's house. Annnndddd...that was the moment when the totality of the challenge before me really started to sink in.




My concerns were compounded by a seemingly unrelated development in my life. It was about that time I started to put effort into marketing my book. Facebook posts just weren't cutting it for spreading the word, so I decided to dip my toe into the Twittersphere. I had no idea what Twitter was, but I assumed it was essentially a 140-character Facebook. Oh, silly, naive me! Twitter is more like a flashy, Las Vegas-style, mega-ADHD Facebook with all filters shut off and some sort of shock-factor injector turned on. I was exposed to more porn in the first month on Twitter than I had seen in all the rest of my life. That's with me just reaching out to folks in the literary world, to promote my book (my memoir...about special needs kids). There was no need to "search" for porn on Twitter; it found me. And we're talking...like...EVERYTHING. I saw stuff you can imagine, stuff you can't imagine, stuff you look at twice, like, "Whaaaaat????" and a whole lotta stuff I really wanted to un-see. Then I began to think about a bunch of 14-year-old boys gathered around someone's smart phone at school, doing a Twitter search...


So here's what I've learned so far. You can put search blocks and safeguards on your home computer, but that doesn't block out sites like Twitter. You can pull all internet access out of the bedrooms and even password lock your home computer...but that doesn't limit internet access on the X Box, PlayStation, Wii, or the child's school-issued netbook. Even for the meanest parents on Earth like me, who haven't allowed cell phones yet, it doesn't limit access to friends' phones (or iPods, tablets, laptops, gaming systems, home computers...). Reality is, there's no protecting these kids from internet porn. Nope. We're forced to just TRUST the decision-making ability of our 12-14 year-old boys. Trust them.



So now my son is a statistic. What is a mom to do? Gone are the days when all a mother had to worry about was her son finding his father's stash of Playboy's. I miss those days. I'd much rather have a discussion about the objectification and air brushing he'd find in magazines than the bondage and bestiality he's likely to stumble upon on the net. This isn't the motherhood I signed up for; I deserve a raise...or I need to take up drinking, one or the other...



15 comments:

  1. I once sow a film and I remember the words a father said to his wife:'Ww must teach him to go through mud without getting dirty' That is all one can do.It applies to Twitter and all other sources of porn

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    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to read my post, Miriam, and for sharing your thoughts. That's a great quote! :) ~Stephanie

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    1. Thank you, Tim, for taking the time to read it and for the kind words! Take care and have a wonderful week! :) ~Stephanie

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  3. I have a fictional eleven-year-old boy with Down syndrome in my latest novel release, have been thinking of a sequel that takes place 2-3 years later...now I'm not so sure! Great post. :)

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    1. LOL!!! That could be fun! My post (well, posts - it was a 2-parter) from June of last year "Sex Talk, and Talk, and Talk..." describes how different having "the talk" with my autistic daughter was from what you would normally imagine. Truth can be stranger than fiction, but fiction for your Down syndrome character could be pretty entertaining, too! :) Thank you for taking the time to read my post, take care, and have a wonderful weekend! :) ~Stephanie

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  5. Loved the post! Loved your fabulous choice of pics too!!

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    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to read my post; I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Take care and have a wonderful weekend! :) ~Stephanie

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  7. Very moving. I'm convinced the Internet will soon become extinct like the dinosaurs (or Atlantis) and die out.

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    1. Thank you very much, Neil, for taking the time to read my post and for your kind words. As fast as things are progressing in the world of technology, I wouldn't rule anything out. Virtual reality is already making it big. Next thing you know, our kids will be riding around in their driver-less cars, spaced out in their own little virtual realities, saying, "Pfff...internet. That's SO 2016. Get with the times, Mom!" :) Thanks again, take care, and enjoy the rest of your week! :) ~Stephanie

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  8. I'm working on a memoir about my battle through my son's disability and illness. I'm going to buy your book for inspiration. Love your posts and the images are great!

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    1. Wow! Thank you very much! Best of luck with your memoir; that's so exciting! I've learned a TON about the publishing process over the past few years, so should you ever have questions or need help, feel free to get in touch! :) ~Stephanie

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