Select Page

From Cartoons to Porn in Seconds – Part 2

by | Jan 29, 2019 | Friends Like Me Videos | 0 comments

  In my last blog post, I shared a film interview in which my son, at age ten, recounts the story of how he was pranked (at age nine) into seeing a hard-core porn site by a friend. Four years later, I interviewed my son again. By now, I had become really interested in documenting children periodically, every two years or so, to see how perceptions of their online experiences changed over time.

We talked again about the porn site incident. I must admit, I thought, as a young teen, he might feel pressure to downplay the experience and not make it “a big deal.” But his reaction was the opposite. In this interview, it is clear that Joa feels indignant that he was exposed to such images in the first place. At fourteen, he was better able to describe what he had seen: a young woman who was threatened by an older man and pulled into a garage where they proceeded to have sex. He described it as “aggressive.” This really hit me. Not only had my young son been exposed to adult video material but also possibly violent content. I was stunned at how random our children’s experiences of online media can be. And left breathless, as a parent, trying to figure out how to respond.

Listening to Joa, in this interview, talk (both on and off camera) about the dynamics of his social life with his friends was eye opening. I could imagine scenarios in which they might send sexual images or videos to each other as pranks with a: “Can you take this?” kind of banter. Those who didn’t understand what they were seeing (did any of them at first?) would be left to process the experience silently to avoid being the object of ridicule. Would they ask their parents? I wonder. Joa didn’t say anything to me until I pressed him on that one occasion. Had there been other experiences I didn’t know about? Thinking about it from his perspective, I wondered: how would you start a conversation with your parent about things you sense are very taboo? Can we really expect children to divorce themselves from their emotions or the pressures of their friend group? Is it realistic? Is it fair? It strikes me that the deliberate act of approaching a parent requires the child to have, already, at some level, processed what they have seen.

It was really interesting hearing Joa assess his experience in retrospect as a 14 year old (see clip above). I was struck by how protective and kind he was towards his nine year old self. In this interview, he advocates, on behalf of other youngsters in the same situation and asks that parents take the initiative and talk to their children not only about sex but also about the situations in which they might see sexual images or videos online.

I learned from this that while I was worried about the actual images my son had seen, the context in which he had seen them was just as important. Understanding that very young children can be exposed to porn through pranks was important for me as a parent. It helped me to see there was no malice – just innocent, childhood exploration. But, of course, the child on the receiving end of the prank might have to pay a high price.

Another lesson learned the hard way – for both of us.

  

SubscribeTo Receive BlogPost Updates

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates.

You have Successfully Subscribed!