Today I want to throw my laptop out the window…
And for a pleasant, or rather unpleasant change, it’s not because I need to turn it off and turn it back on again.
No, today I just don’t want to be here in my office adulting in a film maker way on this topic. That topic we are trying to educate parents on, by making a documentary, about how today’s genres of free online pornography are doing a complete number on the mental and physical health of children and adolescents.
Today I wish that we (that is my husband Rob and I) I wish that we had picked a nicer topic to do a documentary on…say on…dogs perhaps. I watched a really great documentary on Netflix a few weeks ago ‘Life In The Doghouse’. Yes, a documentary on dogs. I swear after this documentary is made, I need to go lie down in a doggy day care for several weeks just cuddling dogs!
It’s extremely hard sometimes to have conversations on this topic, because there is so much information, so much to say. How do I possibly fit in the most important things I would like parents to know about the harm being caused to their children in short spaces of time? That’s what the documentary and my accompanying book are for right? Ah the burden of knowledge.
And to boot, we are coming up against so many heads burying themselves in the sand, I feel like we may actually be part of the Struthionidae family, and not human at all. And by that, I mean from the family of flightless birds, specifically the Ostrich (but then I notice I have opposable thumbs, am sitting on a yoga ball and typing, therefore clarifying I am indeed human…phew).
I too want bury my head in the sand, this topic is really confronting and it’s really overwhelming. But the good news that I have learned, is that it really doesn’t have to be. And that’s what keeps me going. My knowledge on this and my want to share it.
I wish we could just plug in a wire from my brain to yours and let you download all this information I know right now. Sadly, I cannot. So instead, I’ve decided to take my self-diagnosed feelings of overwhelm and frustration today and be constructive! I’ve decided to write this little blog of awesome information while I continue to work on the documentary and book.
Okay so where to start…let’s see. Well first off, sex is awesome. Healthy sexuality including respect, consent (yes, I actually have to state that in this day and age), fun and feeling good is a big ‘Harry Met Sally’ “yes” in my book. We are human beings. We are meant to procreate for the sake of the survival of the human species for crying out loud, so sex is meant to be a great experience. We are wired for sexual pleasure seeking. I love sexing my husband.
Kids are curious and kids are human. If your kid drives you mad by asking “why?” only to respond to your answer with a further “why?”, followed by what seems like a lifetime succession of “whys?”, then congratulations, your kid has a normal healthy curiosity. May I suggest a little wine for you at “why?” number ten. Personally, I find this most useful ;)
So, we have these curious little people that we created. Curious about everything…why planes fly in the sky?, why the sea is blue and the grass is green?, why the cat licks its bum?, why there is not a jar with the smell of the earth before humans existed? (that last one is indeed a question my daughter asked me…I was driving, so I was unable to drink wine to help me answer, as that kind of behaviour is not good parenting!).
But they don’t just soak up knowledge from us. Nooooo, these little people also find information from the world around them. From their other wee curious friends, to ‘Dora The Explorer’ and beyond.
And because of a combination of smartphones and hand-held devices, we now have access to information and videos in a way that has never happened in the history of mankind. Which is amazeballs when we compare the plethora of information our kids can learn from, as opposed to back in our day, when we had to refer to our Britannica Encyclopedias, wait for the library book to become available, or spend time asking questions with Great Aunty Agatha who smelled a little bit like pee and lavender combined.
And guess what we taught them when we don’t know something…yes that’s right “Let’s ask Siri”, “Let’s Google that”. Which is awesome if you are there with them and the question is appropriate to ask virtual information providers. But what about if you are not there? What are they going to do when they hear about something in the playground you don’t want them to Google?
Being curious about sex is normal for kids. Being exposed to content of a sexual nature is even normal. I remember being shown a magazine similar to ‘Playboy’ when I was about ten or eleven, maybe even younger. But there is something different today.
Pornography has changed massively since I was a kid. You see, vanilla pornography used to be mainstream. Hardcore was hard to find. But now? Nowadays it’s the hardcore pornography that is mainstream. Hardcore pornography which is highly degrading and violent. It’s so accessible online for free, and it’s a quick phrase in Google, or in video games such as Roblox (featuring rape rooms…lego type people raping each other…yes part of my fun job is finding this shit, and I assure you I have seen this, and worse, with my own eyes. And no that was not a wine night…sure felt like one afterwards to deal with the shock of finding that in a kids game I can tell you!). It’s in Apps. In Facebook, Instagram, Ticktock, Snapchat, Omegle (the App that encourages you to talk to strangers…which is fine, if you are not ten years old!!!!!).
And guess what those curious wee things do when they stumble across a woman being anally penetrated with a dildo, or being choked (a regular favourite), or just you know, the bog-standard vaginal penetration while being called a “whore”? Well, some of them may feel aroused (a biological reaction to seeing the act of sex, because they are human) and not understand what that feeling is, while feeling horrified at the same time. And if they can’t talk to you about it, they can always just push that shit right down and go back to watching it in secret or end up being traumatised. Some of them may show their friends (that is perfectly normal by the way, to show their friends, it does not make them a bad kid. Think about kids when they get a new school bag, or shoes etc) or at the worst case, trying it out on a sibling or friend. Because kids also model what they see.
And our poor adolescents fare no better? Right now, there are a multitude of teenagers and young adults all doing hardcore porn on each other. No handholding, kissing, fumbling about. You only have to have a chat to health care workers on the front lines about the increases in genital injuries in these age groups. The saddest thing about that, is that they are trying to connect. They need human connection. It’s a normal process but they are not learning healthy step by step sexuality. They are missing out on the stuff that makes sex awesome. Sure, if choking and anal is your thing and you are an appropriate age, fantastic. But that is a decision that should be made after you have had other sexual experiences and understand safety, respect and healthy sexuality. Not the first thing you start with. And keep doing because you think you are not normal if you find it painful or unenjoyable.
So, to clear up any doubts, pornography is not for children. Our kids are accessing pornography in numbers the majority of us are unaware of. The same way that the majority of us seem to be unaware of how much pornography has changed in terms of the content. The same way that the majority of us seem to be unaware of the marked effects online access is having on the rewiring of the brain.
Eeek, all doom and gloom? Well no, it doesn’t have to be. Yes, there is a problem, but unlike in the 1980’s you don’t have to wait to hire the A-Team and someone else can help…YOU. You can actually start protecting your children/grandchildren/children in your care now, easily! Yes really, I shit you not. E A S I L Y. How?
1. Educate yourself. Okay, it’s a hard one. There are a percentage of us out there who actually don’t have a healthy sex life ourselves, and/or may feel uncomfortable talking about sex and porn with our kids. And that is okay. It’s okay not be comfortable. There are some really good online parenting courses and resources that can help you learn more about this topic.Here is one, from Culture Reframed and it’s free.
2. Talk to your kids. It’s this simple folks. Your kids are going to be exposed to this. You have two options. Teach your kids about safety and healthy sexuality and pornography yourself, with the values you have. Otherwise, online porn will do it for you. Again, there are some great resources out there. Books to read with your kids as young as three. Even if all you can muster is “if you see a naked person on the screen, put the screen down and come and tell me”. It’s a start. Sure, you can take this further to explain the difference between art and porn. But one step at a time right! I seriously recommend the books if you are struggling. We recommend ‘Not For Kids’ and ‘Hamish and the Shadow Secret’ by Liz Walker, ‘Good Pictures, Bad Pictures Jnr’ and ‘Good Pictures, Bad Pictures’ by Kristen Jensen (all available on Amazon) and ‘Kyle The Kingfish’ by SafeSurfer (available on their website, see below). And to gain some insight for older kids ‘Sexplotation’ By Cindy Pierce, also available on Amazon.
3. Get protection at home and on your kids devices. You will not stop them from being exposed outside of the house or by other children through their devices, but of course, you will have followed steps 1 & 2 and at least your kids will be prepared and have an understanding of what they have seen, be able to talk to you and process it safely. We recommend The Lifeguard by SafeSurfer. A box you can plug into your modem. Mum and Dad still use the main modem, but the kid’s devices get linked to the Lifeguard Box and this blocks the adult content. It’s a one-off reasonable fee. No subscriptions. Check it out here.
For more information, recommendations and to follow our documentary progress head to our Facebook page here.
And for fucks sake, please, let’s stop being Ostriches, I know it’s a horrible topic, but our kids really need us to be parents & I need to cuddle dogs safe in the knowledge that kids are being protected ;) xxx