My Child Found Porn on His Phone

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phone

I gave my kids their first cell phones when they were in 3rd grade.

I’m “that” mom, the one who starts the battle cry with your kids, “But everyone has a phone.” I justified it, because their father and I are divorced, so my kids aren’t with me all the time. We started with a gateway phone, the kind that only makes calls. But we upgraded within a year for my oldest. And my youngest? Yep, I started him with a smartphone.  

I was diligent with it. I knew passwords, I set filters, I combed through their phones regularly. We made it a few years without any incidents, and I will admit, I let my guard down just a little. I thought I knew my kids well enough that their innocence was a guarantee. We talked about what was appropriate and what wasn’t, but it was vague. 

I should have talked more specifically about what sort of content I meant when I said “inappropriate”, but I didn’t want to give them too much information. As a parent, that tightrope between what is enough information to protect your kids, and what is enough to send them straight to a Google search can be hard to navigate sometimes. I wish I had talked to mine sooner, and been more intentional about what I meant by “if you see anything inappropriate.”

The thing is, the people who run the seedy, inappropriate side of the internet? They are targeting your kids.

It starts out innocently but sucks them in FAST. My daughter stumbled across it last year when she was searching for unicorn birthday cake ideas. I caught it within 24 hours, but my mind still reels from how much she saw and what she was exposed to in that stretch of time.

My youngest was caught up in the Fortnite craze last summer. Which means he will do anything and go anywhere to get “v-bucks”, so he can buy more stuff for his game. He clicked on an ad on his phone that offered 100 free v-bucks, and stumbled into a world of adult dating sites, full of pornography. My heart breaks as I tell you this; we didn’t catch it for a few days. He was at his father’s house for the week, and his dad called to tell me what he found. It led to a long conversation as a family about our values, more restrictions, and reminded me that no family is exempt. Please believe me – if it can happen to me, it can happen to you. And it can happen earlier than you think. 

What do you do when you find out your child has seen porn? 

  1. Stay calm. Getting to the bottom of this situation will not be helped with hysteria and tears on your part. If you need a moment to get yourself under control, take it. 
  2. Have an honest conversation about the dangers of porn. Let your kids know that is not a realistic depiction of adult relationships. Tell them how addicting those images can be, and what impact it can have on future relationships. In our family, it led to a great discussion of what a healthy marriage looks like, and what qualities we value about people. 
  3. Do not shame them. This is a chance to have an open and sincere conversation about what led them to these videos.
  4. Continue the conversation about boundaries, online safety, consent, healthy relationships, sex, what’s appropriate and what’s not regularly. Don’t mention it once and be done, use it as a reminder to talk to them about these hard and heavy issues regularly so it becomes second nature. Talking with them regularly makes it easier for them to feel comfortable coming to you to talk about questions they may have.
  5. Make a plan about how to handle this in the future. Let them know you are willing to continue the dialogue and keep communication open so if they have a question about something they hear or see, they can ask you. It will be awkward at first, but it is so much better to have them hear things from you so you are sure they are getting the facts YOU want them to know. 

There are a ton of online safety options reviewed here. Your local police department is a great resource as well; if you are concerned that anyone may be contacting your child, or worried that your child may have sent pictures or information out, they can comb through any device and give you a report. They can also re-set phones, and have a list of ways to protect your children from online predators. There is also an incredible resource with guides on age-appropriate conversations about every topic parents today may face! Check out Educate Empower Kids for a great overview of how to tackle some of the tough conversations.

I hate that my kids have both gotten a glimpse into the sordid and seedy world that is out there. I mourn the loss of a piece of their innocence. But I am grateful that we have opened the door to this dialogue as early as we have because I still have several years to help them navigate things before they are out on their own. I have talked to multiple parents who have similar stories.

If you have been through this, please know you are not alone. It is a problem that is running rampant, but many people are too ashamed to admit it is going on. We need to talk about it so that if (or when) you find something shocking on their phones or tablets, you know how to handle it. Let’s work together and share our stories to help keep our kids and future generations as innocent as we can for as long as we can.

Do you have other resources? We would love to hear how you keep your kids safe, or how you handle it when something inappropriate pops up during their screen time. 

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Blythe Donovan
Hi! I am an Arizona girl raising her kids in an Oklahoma world! At times I still feel the culture shock of being in a place where you have to specify UNSWEET tea when you order, and I will never get used to scheduling events around football. However, I do firmly believe that you won't find nicer people anywhere in the world than in Oklahoma! I am a single mom and mama bear to a 14 year old girl and a 10 year old boy who are the loves of my life. We live in Edmond, and I am a serial entrepreneur with a passion for loving on moms and their kids! I love to read, write and go for long drives anywhere pretty. I have a great big laugh and if we meet, I will pretty much be sure you are my newest best friend.

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