Our iPad was slowing down and hadn’t worked correctly for about a week. It kept turning off, wouldn’t load things correctly and continued saying there was no space available. I was sitting in a meeting when I got the frantic texts from my husband saying, “Call me ASAP. I figured out what happened to the iPad.” I couldn’t believe what he told me. Porn. Someone had been looking at porn on our iPad, and by “our,” I mean the device belonging to my 10-year-old son.
At that moment, there were so many questions floating through my head. My baby! Why would he even know anything about porn? When was he doing this? I’m a good mom, this isn’t right. Is his innocence gone? We had never been strict technology rule people. We didn’t have set screen time, because honestly we never needed to. Our kids usually watched dumb Youtube shows right after school, and maybe a few times on the weekends, but screen time had never been an issue. Content hadn’t been anything I’d worried about either. My kids were “good kids” who would never do anything inappropriate on their devices. Right?
Before the iPad was wiped and restored back to factory settings, I was able to see all of the things he had been looking at. Some of my fears were quelled as I began to piece together that it began, not with him intentionally searching out porn, but with him harmlessly looking for a specific episode of Dude Perfect, his favorite show. He misspelled a word and like a regular 4th grader, he didn’t bother to go back and fix it, he just clicked enter and hoped that the internet would magically lead him to the desired video. Instead, he found butts. More specifically dude butts. Once he found himself there, it was a rabbit hole of curious clicks that somehow ended up with him looking at half naked pictures of kids. This is where the iPad’s built-in monitoring kicked in, and it locked him out.
I was terrified. I was terrified that my son wasn’t asking questions about development, even after all of the books and talks we’ve had. I was terrified that he might be getting old enough to be needing some man time alone, but I still didn’t want him to be looking at porn. I was terrified that our house was going to be flagged by the FBI!
The good news is that the FBI did not show up at our door. I was also able to sit down with both kids and have more online safety conversations. My assumptions made it so that my kids weren’t prepared. I never thought that the internet might accidentally show my kids inappropriate things. All things considered, my sweet little boy was still innocent! He did have some questions brought on by what he had seen, but was able to ask them in a safe environment, instead of looking at random images for answers. I was able to review body safety, and what you should and shouldn’t take pictures of. Kids are never too young to know how to be safe on their devices.
Don’t be oblivious and just assume your kids know what to do. Don’t be naive and think that your children won’t click. Protect them and guide them.