How the ubiquity of internet porn and smartphones means that younger and younger children are accessing brutal porn.

porn

How the ubiquity of internet porn and smartphones means that younger and younger children are accessing brutal porn. A very personal experience.
by Lizi Patch …

Last night my 11 year old son told me he had watched something horrible online. Something sexual where the young women involved where clearly coerced into the situation, something that was purposely brutal and disgusting – not just to an un-initiated, gentle, academic , 11 year old, prone to anxiety (who has recently moved from a primary school with a total of 48 pupils to a secondary school of 1,500), but actually – as it turns out – to anyone with a shred of humanity. Something a lot of you have probably seen (I haven’t and I’m not going to). Something that was available to watch in an instant, at the swipe of a smartphone button, because that’s the way our beautiful interconnected world works now. I’ll talk about safety settings and 11 year olds having phones later… and porn in a wider context.

He watched it because one of his two new friends told him to watch it – his friend told him it was ‘funny’. He is finding it hard to make friends at the new school and wanted to fit in. He didn’t know what he was going to see.

That was about a week ago and my son became sullen and withdrawn, easily upset and quick to anger. I knew something was wrong – and gently asked on several occasions if he was ok. He said, “Yes”. Clearly he wasn’t. I guessed it was something he may have to work through without talking to me – and gave him space.

We went for a family walk yesterday and I asked him again in a roundabout way. This often works with the other males in my family! We talked about school, about how things have changed so much, about how him and his ‘bestest buddy’ at primary school had completely grown apart. My son said, “It’s no great surprise, but it’s still sad”. He recognizes they were only so close because they were, literally, the only two boys in their tiny year at primary school… I hoped this bond would see them through the pressures of secondary school, but there was no chance once the peer pressure kicked in. He misses him.

Then last night, as I was saying goodnight to him and his little brother, he asked to talk to me. We went down into my bedroom and he eventually told me everything. He told me he’d watched the short video horrified, but unable to stop (I said I knew exactly what he meant). He hadn’t been able to tell me as he thought I’d be angry with him. He told me how he could never ‘unsee it’, and, very significantly, he talked about how he felt his childhood was effectively finished. He experienced an instant and brutal loss of innocence – and whilst there is much to be salvaged, there is a lot of work to do.

So I’m left cuddling my son, strung between childhood and adolescence – who’s telling me how much he’d like to go backwards, back to where his slumbering eight year old brother is dreaming about Skylanders. He tells me that everything is moving way too fast. And we talk about this. We talk about the bit where he said ‘you can’t unsee stuff’, and we look at strategies to deal with the stuff you now know – the stuff that has been forced into your head. We talk about how you can’t go backwards (and how so many of wish we could), and we talk about what’s good and important about moving forwards, day by day, decision by decision. We talk about how my son needs to grow older so that the world can have a great man in their midst – and that can mean anything, from finding the cure to cancer to disappearing into the Australian Bush with a box set of Percy Jackson and communing with the lizards – as long as he is happy. We talk about how it would be great to just be able to make friends really easily, but in truth, most of us are lucky to have one or two really close friends and, if they are true friends, they will back off if there are things that make you feel uncomfortable and actually, it might help them admit that some things make them uncomfortable too.

We talk about the porn industry and how it so often portrays women as passive beings. We talk about how the women in the video he saw are real people being forced into a very unpleasant situation – perhaps mums and sisters, certainly daughters – and we talk about how very far from “funny” this video and so many other videos that are doing the rounds really are. We also talk about how sometimes women choose to go into the sex industry – that when the work is on their terms and they are in control, then that’s ok. We talk about why people might access porn and that looking at it and being curious is completely natural and we talk about the difference between what he watched and something that the majority of people might find titillating. This is in simplified terms.

I know my son, and it was important for him to get some facts and context from me, and I gave that as best as I could. We are curious beings, that’s what makes progress possible and unstoppable. We push and push – sometimes that results in progress that we understand and celebrate and sometimes it results in delving into the darker side of humanity. Darker can be ok. Darkest needs experience to deal with and process.

So, looking through a naïve 11 year old boy’s eyes… he sees that there are certainly gradations of porn. There is some that is – whilst still offering a pretty unrealistic view of sex between two consenting adults – bearable and allows you to retain your basic belief that the world is essentially ok (he tells me his old best mate showed him some pictures of boobs a few months ago… he gets that). Then there is the degrading, shockingly violent porn that showed him a very dark underbelly to his world indeed (hitherto populated by Minecraft, Harry Potter and Percy Jackson) and faced with this hideous new information – he simply doesn’t know what to do with it. These are adults. How is he meant to feel?

After watching the video, he immediately changed his own settings on his own phone – he inherited it second hand from me and I had left the settings on Moderate. He changed them to Strict. And here’s the thing about 11 year olds and phones – he was the last in his year to get a phone. I held out, not because I was particularly worried about him having access to vile porn (we’d had the conversation about staying safe online, he’d had his internet safety day at school… ), but because I question why an 11 year old needs a phone other than to ‘fit in’. But I caved in a month ago because I didn’t want my son to have to field anymore of that crap that kids give each other ‘Why haven’t you got a phone, you loser?’… I caved to his peer pressure basically. I want him, for his sake, to fit in where he can, just to take the pressure off whilst he works out who he is. Another blog right there…
So why am I telling you this? What do I think might happen?

I work with 150 kids every week. I develop creative skills with them, I nurture and develop their confidence and communication skills, I persuade some to speak louder and help some to speak more clearly. I show them by example that, in my opinion, a sense of humour and relentless curiosity is all the intelligence you need. I encourage them to be open, creative and turn their hopes, worries and fantasies into theatre. (I’m currently writing a play with 35 of them about how our world has been taken over by digital, non contact communication – we’re looking at the ups and downs of this… the majority of them wish Facebook would pull the plug… yet another blog in the making).

And yet, most probably whilst I was actually running one of my workshops/ sessions/ rehearsals, my own son is watching his world cave in and then dealing with it on his own for seven whole days. The anger, frustration and sadness that has overwhelmed me since last night tells me that it’s time I used my 25 years of experience to do something about this very modern phenomenon. I use the internet all the time. I am very active on social media, sometimes for work, sometimes for flippant nonsense. I have watched porn and I think anyone who says they haven’t is either lying or… or I don’t actually know what the other option is. I’m sure some of you will tell me. But then I was shocked as a kid by a copy of Mayfair snagged on a hawthorn bush that my neighbour and I took back to our den. But I recognize that this time the internet has come and bitten me RIGHT on the arse and I wasn’t ready.

I could go on and on, the fury, the feeling of powerlessness etc. and there will be a follow up piece to this, once I have collected my thoughts and finished developing a pilot idea for tackling this issue. It will in the context of dealing with the fact that this stuff is out there, that it will be passed around and that I can’t stop it – I’m no Mary Whitehouse – bejesus, anyone who knows me will back me up on that one – but like anything, it’s reacting to the world we live in today. Parents and teachers have a lot on their plates, kids have always found ways to discover the world on their own and that is essential, and it’s important that adults don’t interfere with that discovery and self-education to a degree. BUT it’s our ADULT world that is seeping into their childhood, more and more, at the touch of a button. And when the mark of cool and fitting in with your mates becomes watching a ‘funny’ video which is essentially brutal porn that will change your world – then I think we need to reassess.

Below is what my son says in his own words about the experience.

I am so disgusted and upset by the video. Whoever made that video must be so sick, and I am sure that 99% of the people who have watched it (and some who haven’t) agree with me.

It is horrible enough that I have watched it, but imagine if someone even younger than me was to see it, I cannot even begin to imagine the damage it would do.

I know that there are points I make that are subjective and debatable. So lets debate. I’d like to use this experience to develop tools for young people that might give them a vocabulary in the face of peer pressure – on both sides. I’d also like to give parents and teachers workable strategies to help safeguard the young people in their charge to a realistic degree. This isn’t really about ‘internet safety’ days although they are absolutely essential. It’s about having very open and frank discussions about the content that our generation has created and giving it a context for the younger generations who are consuming and replicating it.

I would be very interested to hear what other’s experience of this are.

Contact me through my website:

www.lizipatch.co.uk.

37 comments

  1. I would have to agree.

    I’m glad I grew up before the internet and mobile phones existed. It was difficult to see porn in those days, or indeed anything nasty at all.

    You say in your article that you weren’t really aware and it does appear that parents let children have phones and computers in their bedrooms without really realising the risks.

  2. the impact of the internet has taken much of society by surprise. and here’s the solution: internet and phone accounts that limit content. plus legislation that under 16’s are not allowed anything other than these.

    all content would be blocked by the provider. i think BT, O2, orange et al are missing a trick here and that the government needs to switch on to this and fast.

    nanny state? yes, kids up to 16yo need a nanny if their parents aren’t around.

  3. Yup. This is a problem. Latest example of technology racing ahead of society. One of the most popular kid’s Christmas presents for 2012 was a tablet of some form – ipad, Google Nexus, etc which means you’ve handed your child a gateway to the unknown, unmonitored and unfiltered. They are literally 1 search and 1 click away from God knows what.

    Kind of like putting your kids into a school where you have no idea what will be taught or who will be teaching them until only after it’s happened and if you discover it.

    I don’t have a solution yet but we do need one. And “self-policing” by the private sector is not one of them. We saw how this played out in banking and financial services. It can be part of a larger solution but our children are too important to simply assume that private industry will do enough to protect them. Generally, in fact, private industry have incentives to allow this content to roam as unfettered as possible.

  4. The thing that annoys me the most is when anyone calls for stronger censorship and controls (which I would) the old, tired, entirely misappropriated cry of ‘Freedom of Expression’ is heard.

    Free Speech is something that I believe in. It was pioneered by non-conformist Christians who believed that they should be permitted to express both religious and political views outside those of the Establishment. It was important to them that no Church and no Government should be able to stop them from dissenting if they chose to.

    How we went from there to the rampant, damaging violence and porn that surrounds us today I do not know. Yet I do know that I resist it. When the safety and sanity of our children is at stake, I’m willing to have to phone my ISP or phone company before they will allow my device to show adult material. Our current government recently had the chance to make this law. Yet they ducked the opportunity.

    I believe in freedom. That means that I believe we should live in a society where people who choose can be free FROM certain things, not just free TO DO certain (any-) things. At the moment we have swung too far the other way.

    My two penn’orth.

    1. Chris

      I don’t know how you can say we’ve “swung too far” in the direction of freedom when we’re living in an increasingly censorious climate (which I assume from your opening sentence you’re glad to see). We are seeing people regularly arrested for what they’ve tweeted or written on Facebook, and we are currently witnessing the undermining of press freedom.

      A free society is always going to be messier and more difficult to negotiate than a regulated one. But a free society is based on a positive view of people to work things out for themselves. Parents have always had difficulty in keeping inappropriate material away from their children – and always will – but that shouldn’t be used as an excuse for state censorship that treats us all as childlike and incapable of managing situations like the above.

      Paul

      1. it strikes me that once the ‘situation’ has happened it’s too late for the parents to start ‘managing’ it.

        healing might be a more appropriate term.

        perhaps people have a right to make and watch movies that depict the psychological and physical abuse of women (and that’s an even bigger ‘free speech’ debate) but that kind of pornography is very harmful for children to consume. if it’s a situation that can be prevented, surely that’s a good thing?

        1. Adrian

          There is no evidence that porn is harmful to children, that’s just something that is asserted like the idea it’s harmful to women (who are also always infantilised in this debate as themselves childlike and damaged by any involvement in porn) to justify censorship.

          Porn is simply, and understandably, something we would rather keep from children, along with horror films and anything else we think might disturb them. However, as part of growing up and normal curiosity they’re more than likely going to access some at some point. If parents have a way to block what comes into your home, that’s fine. But it seems that you want to take it out of the hands of parents and for the government to “switch on to” phone providers blocking content.

          Not all situations can be “prevented”. Like I say, freedom is messy and we have to manage and work these things out for ourselves – that’s surely a better thing than the government acting in loco parentis to us all.

          Paul

          1. as someone that spends all day all week working with working class young people i have seen the direct result of the increasing access to porn. I think it is fair to say and certainly irrational to argue that porn is mainly made (or the stuff we are talking about) for the titilation of the male gaze and as such is a reflection of male fantasy. As it turns out this is of course a strong representation of patriarchy with clear defined gender roles being played out. i have had sex with different women and never once come across any women that has sex the way they do in porn videos. however i know the difference between reality and ‘entertainment’. When I was a kid you would maybe find a porn mag in the woods (who left those there? Were there porn fairies?) However with the access to the internet young people are being ‘educated’ pre any sexual activity and their only window into the world is through porn. This is a highly confusing and false education which is leading to males playing the roles they see and females playing the subservient phallic worshipping sex beings they see. Apart from the general thing of the girls are going to miss out on a lot of fun during sex, there is a direct link to these gender roles and domestic violence, sell esteem etc etc. We are seeing more and more issues to do with sex that are from things seen in videos leaving teenagers confused and upset and wondering if their own moral compass is wrong when its what has been seen on a video but then didnt feel right to them in real.

    1. Thank you Chris – for taking the trouble to read the article and for your feedback.

      Yes, censorship is a highway to nowhere – I’m a writer and a director so clearly my industry is about freedom of speech and expression… BUT hardcore porn and it’s ubiquity has nothing to do with freedom of expression and everything to do with grimness, greed and exploitation.
      So I will use MY freedom of expression to develop a piece of theatre perhaps that speaks out, provokes debate and looks for some answers…
      L

  5. One of the reasons that blocking sites doesn’t – cannot – work, is that is not the only way to get at content.

    I’m curious as to how your son was sent the video.

    Was it a link to a porn site? (Hard to block as they keep popping up)
    Was it a link to a regular site with some extreme content on it? (Impossible to police)
    Was it emailed? (Impossible to check what’s being emailed to us)
    Was it Bluetoothed across to his device? (Again, no way to monitor)

    Back in my day, the de rigueur thing was to surreptitiously smuggle floppy disks stuffed to the gills with contraband. With USB sticks and memory cards carrying GB – how do you monitor what is being handed around? You can’t – not effectively.

    The only way is – as you have so wonderfully demonstrated – education. And, perhaps, a stiff word with other parents who may not know what their kids are doing.

    Terence
    (NB: I work for a mobile company – I don’t speak for them.)

    1. Hi,

      He saw it on his smartphone at school. 3G connection, playtime.
      He took his phone to school (even though we agreed he wouldn’t).

      Yes. Education.
      I’m going to write a play about this, with and for young people, old people, people.

      L

  6. A brave and brilliant piece, and incredibly timely. Please please let us know where you take your righteous anger next – I’d certainly sign up to any campaign that tries to rectify this appalling situation. I fear for my little girls [9 and 12] in this climate. Thank you.

    1. Thank you Kiki. There will be a follow up piece that explores what action can be taken… by me in a personal capacity and how this might possibly have a wider influence.

      Best

      Lizi

  7. I wish You tube had parental controls on it. My 8YO daughter came downstairs at 9.00 the other night saying she couldn’t sleep. After a few cuddles and warm milk I took her back to bed and picked up her Kindle. When I took it I noticed that she had beenon You Tube and she had gone from Lego harry potter to lego kissing to how to kiss sexy to car sex.
    Bloody hell! I could see through the history that she had only see a couple of seconds of each clip (we, too have talked about what is appropriate to watch, etc, etc) but bloody hell, no wonder she couldn’t sleep. And yes, yes, yes, parental controls means perhaps she shouldn’t have her kindle in her bedroom at night, blah, blah, blah, I must be a shit Mum, but come on… You tube takes key words and suggest stuff, it was easy to see her journey.
    I can put parental controls on the internet generally but not on You Tube. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
    Thanks Lizi for posting this. It was a powerful and moving piece.
    And you are an ace Mum! xxxx

  8. what or who are you trying to blame here? you should be more specific i think. i imagine an identical piece could have been written 20 years ago. just exchange the technological references… the ‘video nasties’ anyone? rhetoric, alarm, hysteria…

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read the piece and comment.

      It’s not about blame for me. That would be simplifying what is clearly a very complex situation. It’s about reacting to the world we live in – warts and all, I suppose – doing the best you can for those you love with the tools available to you. My tools happen to be writing, theatre and communication, so I thought I’d use them to navigate a pathway in what has been a pretty shit time.
      I hope my piece doesn’t come across as ‘hysteria’. It’s just an honest account. Take from that what you will.

      It’s not about censorship, it’s about conversation and education.
      L

  9. Very difficult.

    I think I first saw porn in a magazine dumped in a hedge.
    After, an older boy showed me a catalogue of extreme (yes, very) porn he’d swiped from his father’s case after he’d been to the Netherlands.

    That was over 40 years ago.
    I do wonder – a bit – as to whether we tend to idealise how things were in the past. Porn was harder to get; but society was much more racist, and we winked at child abuse (see “wicked Uncle Ernie, and Savile and so on).

    Everyone had jobs, but we died earlier…

    and so on.

    I’m sorry your son had such a rotten introduction to something like that…

  10. Excellent piece. Moving and measured. I have two boys coming up to this age and worry about this enormously. We must recognise that the virtual world is…a world. We would not let our children wander alone through parts of town where they would see violent rape and all the rest. To suggest that we would just shows how, as one commenter mentions above, we have failed to understand the implications of modern technology and its impact on our lives.

    It is also a matter of degree. To find a Mayfair on a hedge and to use it occasionally is completely different to being submerged in porn 2-3 hours per day, as many young men now are. We seem to be bad at discussing notions of ‘degree’. Debate veers between total libertarianism and some kind of fundamentalism that would ban all things. But the truth is that children (and indeed adults) are already barred, in effect, from many things – and this bar makes life easier for all of us. Many laws are there to restrain our excesses and a law in this area would be no different.

    It may sound hyperbolic, but I sometimes wonder if this massive, ubiquitous use of porn will not be one of the defining characteristics of our age – and yet you hardly hear a breath of discussion of it, really, on news shows, in the media etc. Has it ever come up on Question Time, or Newsnight? Funny, that. Given the amount of time spent on porn and the money involved, you’d think it might…

  11. I guess it’s a power thing in a playground, I remember being shown pics I wasn’t ready for, hadn’t even considered.

    The effects are all over. From the Big Brother guy bragging he can last 14.5 minutes (he timed it, and presumably that’s ‘hydraulic ram’-style) to a friend I knew who eschewed blowjobs because of the gagging she’d seen online.

    I don’t know what the solution is. All I think I know is it’s not leading to good attitudes about sex or women and that’s bad. Very bad.

    Also bad was Victorians covering piano legs.

    Like I say, I don’t know the solution, but I wanted to write something in support.

  12. Watching soft, hard core or sick porn, or any other sick videos on youtube, is not going to damage your child. It sounds like Lizzi made that bit up about her child talking about losing his innocence. Seriously, who would say that??

    I would have thought the worst thing that can damage your child is masturbation. So its the nice porn I’d worry about if I were you, since it may encourage your child to be more anti-social and withdrawn. (One thing we all learn as adolescents is never to have a wank before a friday night out.)

    How to go about this discouragement? Firstly, dont tell him masturbation is ok and nothing to be ashamed of. Secondly, dont knock before entering his room and if you ever catch him waking, just let him get embarrassed.

    As for censorship, it wont stop children masturbating so I’d say its likely to be ineffective. The young mind is perfectly capable of making eroticism out of an underwear catalogue.

    Dan

    1. im sorry but rather interested. why is masterbation the worse possible thing to damage a child?

  13. The idea of being unable to ‘unsee’ something is resonant. I too remember my first encounter with the hedgerow lady and my reaction to the vulva was just like Stewie’s in ‘Family Guy’. However, I wonder whether that ‘fight or flight’ response in an 8 year old is an indication of a normative psychology? It seems to me that your son’s response, whilst undoubtedly stressful and difficult within the family at the time, is an encouraging, healthy sign – that he is and will be the ‘good man’ you envisage.

    But there’s the thing. The internet (and with it,the ubiquity of pornography) is a massive punctuation mark in the equilibrium of human consciousness. It’s at these punctuation marks that evolution occurs and I’m uncertain of the impact pornography may have on how we envisage one another in any of a number of projected possible futures. I’m not afraid, just uncertain, and I think the subject needs some examination.

    One fairly current piece of research suggests that men who watch a lot of pornography (at least once a day), lose interest in actual physical sex. I can understand this. The researcher concludes that the reification and idealisation of women in porn cannot compare with our partners, wives and girlfriends who do not (perhaps will not?) behave like porn actresses. And it does seem to me that this is a male thing (not denying feminine sexuality or women who enjoy porn at all); a reinforcement of the ‘droit a seigneur’ role of women.

    Unfortunately, no matter how our collective consciousnesses may evolve (or not), we remain merely creatures and our behaviour is often, at *best*, primeval and atavistic. I’m curious as to how ‘Porn’ may be seen through this (admittedly singular and only briefly argued)lens. Perhaps at it’s most benevolent, porn is merely priming stereotypical appraisals of social interactions between the sexes, but at it’s most malignant we are easily capable of employing sex as a weapon, extending easily into violence, brutality, torture and murder.

    Nevertheless, the claim that witnessing violence in videogames and on film results in ‘acting out’ of the same behaviour in life has been discredited in repeated investigations and, as sad as it may be, I suspect that Porn and it’s proliferation is just another function of our condition. Attempts to legislate against it are as inevitable as gravity, but the legislators are as Canute before the tide, incredulous at their impotence.

    Discuss

  14. A comment sent in by Graham Rhodes …

    Hi
    I felt I had to respond to the article by Lizi Patch.

    Whilst having the greatest sympathy with any mother and child who suffer from such a traumatic event as the one described in Lizi Patch’s article “A traumatised son is too heavy a price to pay for our internet freedoms”, I do believe that it raises a number of questions, the first and foremost about the freedom of the internet and censorship in general.

    Its interesting that the title of Ms Patch’s article implies censorship and poses the question of internet freedom, but yet the body of her text does not actually suggest the internet should be censored, instead the article ends with her opinion that “we as a society, need to reassess things.” However no answer is offered.

    Obviously the answer to her question is yes, a reassessment of internet access is needed. Children need to be protected from the excesses of the adult world, in all media, not just the internet. Parental controls also need to be engaged when choosing DVD movie content, graphic novels, and other printed material. However surely this is down to awareness and implementation of parental guidance, and in the case of the internet, pre-programmed and fully installed parental controls on all internet access devices, not a general censorship of internet content.

    In the article I read the line “he changed his settings to strict”. Surely, if parents want to prevent such things from happening, they should set their children’s internet access themselves, setting them to “strict” from the moment the device is put in the child’s hands. Perhaps the way forward and the lesson learnt from Lizi Patch’s unfortunate experience is not to call for censorship of the internet, but a call to raise the awareness of such internet filters, and demand from hardware and software manufactures their implementation on all devices that can access the internet.

    Perhaps the solution to the problem of children gaining access to unsuitable and inappropriate internet content should be to legislate that all makers of internet devices and all servers of internet content should make parental controls more obvious and available on the devices themselves. That all devices that access the internet should be sold with these controls in place, and feature a password option to turn them off. That way someone who wishes to view such content has to make a mental and physical choice to search for such content and not accidentally stumble on it by default.

    Otherwise we are faced with the question of censorship which then leads to the question of who controls the censorship and where are lines drawn?

    Personally I do not want my internet access dictated to me by some faceless government department, or dictated to me by any political power. Imagine the propaganda opportunity such internet control would offer to any political party, left right or centre.

    I do not think censorship by any corporate body, or for profit organisation could possibly work. Neither do I think that a religious body such as the Catholic Church, the Church of England, nor the Muslim Council should dictate what we can or cannot gain access to.

    Recent events have also shown, and proven by the Leveson enquiry, that the press cannot be trusted to censor themselves, so it stands to reason we cannot trust them with the internet. So, on whose shoulders should this power fall?

    Censorship is a moving target. What is and what isn’t acceptable changes with the times. A good example is the poem “V” by Tony Harrison. Back in 1985 when the poem was first published it caused an outburst of controversy. When a filmed version was broadcast by Channel 4, in October 1987, the national press, tabloid and
    broadsheet, openly criticised the move. An early day motion entitled “Television Obscenity” was even put even to the House of Commons on the 27th of October 1987 by a small group of Conservative MPs. Today, or rather a couple of weeks ago, the poem was rebroadcast on Radio 4 with hardly a raised eyebrow.

    Like censorship, freedom of the internet is a dangerous thing and should be treated as such. Out there for all to see are not only the extreme forms of physical violence and pornography but also the extremes of political thought, from terrorist web sites showing all manner of atrocities, to the far right preaching of the EDF and European Fascist groups. The internet offers extremes of all art forms, from the cop killer lyrics of hardcore US hip-hop, to the extremist totalitarianism viewpoints of such art movement as Slovenia’s NSK.

    The net is a hotch-potch of the best and the worst of everything the world has to offer. At best it offers freedom of information, of expression, of thought and knowledge, it is the finest reference work ever. At its worse it is grubby, violent, sexist and downright evil. You click the button and takes your choice, and that’s the key really, you make your choice. But for those too young to understand or differentiate, you use the parental control settings.

  15. Parents should be worried. I was horrified to find out last month that the Luke Magnotta murder video is still online with viewers giving comments on it!. With such sites and porn freely available with more advancing technology, it’s no wonder that society seems increasingly numb to depravity and violence.

  16. Thanks for the cautionary tale. I read an abridged account of this in the local newspaper. This raised several questions ion my mind. 1. Why did you not put an internet blocker on the smart phone to start with? 2. Why did you launch into a detailed account of the porn industry – a little too much information for an 11 year old don’t you think? 3. Why did you not ring the parent of the other kid and complain. I would have. 4. Why is it so important that your child “fit in” to the extent that he has full access to the internet on a $600 smart phone in his pocket to view at any time? They should be out playing 5. Why are we buying kids phones worth several hundred dollars anyway? I have already told my 7 year old that the only time she will be getting a phone is when she can afford one herself. And I mean it.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read both versions of the article.
      I’ll try and answer your questions in brief, but I think there is very little that’s black and white about this issue.

      1. You need to know my son for me to answer that – it’s not a straightforward issue and if he hadn’t watched it on his phone he would’ve watched it on his mate’s phone. Kids leave the house. 2. It was a conversation, he asked, I told him. It wasn’t that detailed. He’s a mature boy for his age and perfectly able to understand the wider context. 3. The parent in question had shown his son the video himself. He is a man who I wouldn’t approach for a conversation over this topic or anything … it wouldn’t be an option… 4. The phone was an old one of mine, 2nd hand, certainly not worth anything like $600. 5. I’d never do that! 6. He pays for the monthly tariff of £7.00 with his pocket money by doing jobs around the house etc.

      The video in question… the man who made it is now in prison.
      Hope this answers some of your questions.

  17. If your son was upset about porn wait till he sees film of concentration camps on TV – or gets taken on a school trip to Auschwitz. No porn I have seen in my 60 years holds a candle to industrialised starvation and murder in terms of disturbing images.

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