Hyperpat\’s HyperDay

SF, science, and daily living

Kids and Porn

Posted by hyperpat on September 22, 2006

You’ve got kids and you’ve got a computer hooked to the internet. Now what? Afraid that your kids will start lurking around all those sites that portray sex very explicitly? Afraid that they might see something there that they might decide to go out and emulate in the real world? Most parents, I think, have some such fears, and many, many groups and organizations are continuously putting out warnings to parents that their kid’s internet use needs to be monitored for just such reasons. But in the real world, what can parents do about this, and what should they do?

Option one is the obvious: get rid of pornography on the net. While this is seemingly obvious, trying to really do so runs into a hornet’s nest of not just problems in trying to define what pornography is, why it should be restricted, what harm it causes, and how to physically stop it when much of it is produced outside the jurisdiction of American courts, but also the legal rampart of free speech and not implementing any remedy that also restricts the right to publish and access non-pornographic material. Congress has tried a couple of times to implement restrictions in this area, and has stumbled over this particular point every time. Sex is a very powerful human drive, and as long as the demand for this material exists, it will be produced and distributed. The only real question is is if and how access to such material can be restricted without causing an essential breach in the right of free speech, or worse, a government that snoops on everything posted on the net.

Option two: Teach your kids about sex. Seems like most parents either don’t want to do this or don’t know how. Teach them not just what sex is, but what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior in this area. And by inappropriate I mean violence, sadism, rape, and other such power trips masquerading as sex. Part of this education should be that pornography exists, and that in and of itself it’s essentially harmless, that the human body and its sexual functions are not evil, but beautiful and normal. The schools will not do this. You’re lucky if they manage to cover the mechanics of it, and perhaps some of the risks such as STDs associated with having sex. Be aware that until kids reach a certain age, even if they should happen to run across some sexually explicit material while roaming the net, it just won’t interest them. Once they do reach that age, though (and it’s a lot younger than most parents realize), knowing what it is, why it is, and what is good and bad about sexual relations will allow these kids to process such material appropriately. Having your kids made aware of sex will also allow them to be a bit more cautious in chat rooms and such, where there is a very real danger of sexual predators hanging out – and this is a danger parents should be worried about, not whether their little Johnny or Jane so happened to catch sight of a video of two people having sex.

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