Debrief Daily writer gives her 10-year-old son access to porn with conditions

Letting your kids access porn is not the answer. *Model pictured
Letting your kids access porn is not the answer. *Model pictured Photo: Getty

What would you do if you found out your 10-year-old son had been accessing hardcore pornography on his smartphone? Would you block his access to porn or would you give him permission to keep looking at it?

The latter is what a writer at Debrief Daily claims to have done. We have chosen not to identify her because to do so would identify her son. In two different articles, she outlined her decision to allow him to continue accessing pornography after discovering he had been looking at a site called "Redtube" that some of his friends also accessed on their devices.

The writer claims she made the decision because she wanted her son to have a healthy relationship with his body, and wanted to avoid a repeat of the way she was raised "to feel shame over sex, masturbation, my body, desire and all those things…"

And so, with her blessing, she told him he could keep watching it if he followed the rules: "No videos featuring rape, violence, kids or animals." How she defines violence isn't clear. Rough sex? Or just hardcore BDSM?

I'm all for teaching children to have a healthy attitude towards their bodies and their sexual identity. I'm not a prude. But watching pornography at such a young age is counterproductive to instilling realistic ideals about sex and having healthy sexual relationships as adults. 

The Debrief Daily writer says she explained to her son that what he sees in porn "isn't real", that doesn't necessarily mean his brain will get the message.

Phychologists have warned that during critical periods of childhood, the brain is programmed for sexual orientation, and the mind can develop a "hardwire" for what they will be aroused or attracted to.

Even among adults, let alone still-forming, impressionable young minds, pornography can have devastating long-term consequences. Some men develop porn addictions that affect their lives so badly that in extreme cases, it can stop them from being able to have sex with their wives and girlfriends because the experience doesn't live up to what they see in porn.

As the mother of a 10-year-old girl, I'm concerned there are parents out there who would actually allow this. I have no doubt she knows kids who access pornography because their parents don't police their internet activities effectively. I'm not naïve. But a parental green light is another kettle of fish entirely.

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I worry enough about the teenage years – fearing my daughters' lives will be so different to the way mine was in adolescence, with boys today exposed to pornography and having misogynistic attitudes of entitlement to girls. I've read reports with horror about teenage girls presenting with sexual injuries sustained from teenage boys reenacting rough sex they've seen in porn.

A Canadian study of teenagers found there was a correlation between boys who frequently consumed pornography and their agreement that it is acceptable to hold a girl down and force her to have sex.

All this is leaving aside the fact that 10 is just way too young for this stuff at all. And that it's also illegal in Australia to expose minors to sexual content. There's an age limit for a reason.

The writer also argued that because parents face problems these days stopping their kids accessing pornography regardless of restrictions placed on devices, kids can still access it anyway. So instead of banning it, we can "hold their hands through the process so they can learn as they go and hopefully, lose interest."

I know all too well how easily children can access things on their devices you don't want them to access. I am hyper-vigilant about how my kids use technology. That doesn't mean I'm going to give up and let them do what they want. How hard is it to block x-rated material at the router and keep checking on what they are doing?

I can tell you from experience that children won't be able to access anything contraband at all if you take away their devices.  My eight-year-old attempted to sign up for a chat site, in violation of our household rules around safe internet use, and got a warning. A few months later she tried to set up a Twitter account and lost access to her tablet. She's yet to earn it back. She hasn't died from lack of technology.

Keeping our children safe on the internet is an important responsibility. Not just keeping them safe from predators, but from content that can warp their developing minds. 

You don't need to allow your children unfettered access to hardcore porn to be the sort of mother they can have open, safe conversations with about sex.

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