Hello All

We have had a nasty experience this last week in which my 9 year old son found pornography on the web. I need to put safeguards on my computers but I have no idea what to use or how to use it. Please can I have some info from those of you in the know about this sort of thing. Also with this one exposure that was about 20 minutes of page flipping the max was 2 minutes on the one page while waiting for a download that never completed. So it was a relatively brief glimpse of what he did see. What do you think the damage might be and does anyone have suggestions on how to help him?

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I doubt there was any damage; you might ask him if he has any questions about what he saw, and if so, answer honestly and briefly...don't go into a 20 minute lecture on reproduction! ;o) give the info asked for, and let him decide if he wants more.
If he has no questions now, I'd let it die...but also let him know that if he thinks of one later, he can ask then.

This is exactly how I'd handle it. As with anything the more anxiety you show about the incident the more likely he will want to explore further to figure out why it's such a big deal. Be factual, not emotional, don't give him answers to unasked questions and he'll be fine.

I haven't looked into filters yet so I can't help you there.
Hi Ella,

I'm sorry your son found a "bad" site. I know it's something I'll have to worry about in the near future, as my son is 7 and is starting to get on the computer.

As to your question, I can only say that when I was 10 years old, I found some VERY graphic pornographic magazines. I'm not talking just Playboy or Penthouse. These were like scenes taken directly from a XXX movie. I never told my parents (until I was an adult) that I found them. I looked at them several times and was quite curious. I learned more than I probably needed to know at that age (I did know the mechanics of sex already, but until that point had not really considered what it looked like).

I don't believe it damaged me or caused any long term harm. (Others may think differently :-)

I would just explain to him that those kinds of things are for adults and it's not something he needs to be seeing. If he has questions, I would answer them honestly with as little detail as you can get away with. But, I know how I was as a kid, and if I felt that something was being held back, I went to check it out on my own. I fear that if you don't answer any questions, or give him what he needs to feel satisfied, then he may try to find it again to get the info he seeks.

It'll probably just all blow over. I wish I knew how to put the safeguards on the computer. I do believe that you can Google the info, or ask at a large store like Best Buy and they should be able to help you.

Good luck.

I have, through people's answers to this post, found the Google preferences and discovered that the whole thing would never have happened if it had been set on strict monitoring rather than moderate. Such a simple easy step to take. It will not work to stop sophisticated techies or children intent on finding things because it is easily overridden but it does stop the accidental stuff coming through.
We had a similar experience a few years ago, and while it probably isn't creating permanent "damage", I don't think you want your kids exposed to the infinite supply of porn only the internet can provide. It's one thing to find a magazine, it's quite another to see just how much pornography is on the internet. Seriously.

We use a filter called Bsafeonline. I think their website is of the same name. It is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it should be okay for you since your son is still young. Now that my son is 15 and has a Facebook account, twitter account, and wants to watch stuff on youtube, he hates the filter because it shuts him out all the time. I'm probably going to have to look into another software soon. The good thing is that it will allow you to search things like "breast cancer", but not "boobs".

>>>Acutally, this brings me to a funny side note on the same topic: [I'm cracking up just thinking about it]. A few years back, when we had had the filter about a year, I was looking through my son's web surfing history (something I still do pretty regularly), and I saw that he had searched "breastfeeding" and had been watching instructional videos about breastfeeding just to get his boob "fix". I kind of felt bad for him. The lengths an adolescent boy will go to get a glimpse of a boob! br />

I agree with the other advice given: put your computer in a very public place in your house and talk to your kids. When we "caught" my son, he was 12 and he actually seemed pretty bothered by what he had seen. He was crying, and he just said, "why were those people doing that?" Maybe he was crying because of getting "caught" and feeling the extreme awkwardness of having to have this type of talk with his mother. But maybe he really was bothered by what he saw. I think when you're an adult, you can view things like pornography and remain somewhat unaffected, but as a child, you get a sense of "is this what I'm going to be like? is this normal sexuality? is this what everyone is doing?" Kids haven't had the benefit of learning and getting comfortable with their own sexuality, so they can't put it in context.

Just my opinion.
There's nothing I could add about talking with him that hasn't already been said, but here's a site that compares the top parental control/filtering software. http://www.child-internet-safety.com/products.php

Turning on increased filtering on Google is a good start, but can only do so much. It's still so easy for kids to end up on an undesirable site through a series of pop-up ads and links on other pages that are a few clicks away from the one that Google let through their filter.


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