Back in the day, porn was hard to come by. You either had to find a Playboy in your parents’ bedroom or stumble across someone’s hidden stash in the woods (true story).
I remember when I was a kid, the barbershop up the street had stacks of adult magazines sitting on the counter, and if you were old enough, you could pick up one and read it while waiting for your tonsorial time in the chair. My brother and I would giggle at the covers of the magazines that we could see from afar but if we got near the stack we would get a stern tsk tsk.
My friend Ed worked at the local adult bookstore, and he would invite me to stop by and keep him company while he handed out tokens for the movie arcade in the back of the store. He had to keep a radio on at a rather loud level near his station to drown out the cacophony of seventies porn soundtrack music and animal grunts coming from the back of the store.
With a razorblade we would open the endless supply of smut from around the world and marvel at the contents before sealing them back up for the customers. It was a porn o’ plenty, a veritable pornucopia, if you will. I believe a saw every position outlined in the Kama Sutra during our browsing. I became desensitized to it during that time. For a while it was fun to look at, but at the end of the day, meh.
Flash forward to earlier this year. One of the iPads Tod had brought home from school was left with its recent browsing history still open and, um, moaning at us. A quick search revealed that our kids had been searching for porn. After a stern talking-to the iPads were returned to school, with their browsers cleaned up and the illicit sites removed.
Then, the kids got their own Kindles for Christmas, and the fun started once again. We blocked sites, we took off the Internet, but you know how resourceful kids are when they want to see something. She must have typed in the word sex and just followed what popped up, because damn…the stuff that was in her browser was on the more exotic side of things. (I can’t imagine that she actually typed naughty teen spankings or slutty European schoolgirls.) We asked her if she had any questions (mind you, she’s 8), and, thankfully, the answer was no. We took the devices away, and, after a weeklong digital time out, they were returned with another stern warning and prohibitions as to when and where they could play with them.
Our littlest, Eli, due to his daily meds, is a light sleeper and prone to getting up, wandering around the house at night and helping himself to snacks. On one of those nights, he found his Kindle all alone on the counter charging. After finding his device stashed in his room, we checked the browser history, and there were several searches for sax. Mind you, he was 5 at the time. So, in his search for sex, he had found nothing but saxophones and smooth jazz. If he’ll learn anything from this, it’s the power of correct spelling and a lifelong dislike of the dulcet sounds of Kenny G.
But what did we learn? We learned that we had to outsmart our kids with the technology in our house, and we had to enlist the help of a techie co-worker (who is also a dad) to filter out what the kids can see on the web. As we talked about this and mentioned how grateful we were for his time, he slowly shook his head and remarked that he’ll probably have to do the same thing in his house for when his two kids get older. This was the beta test for the porn lock-down coming his way.
So what do we do? Porn is just a click away and no longer the magazine displayed behind the counter at the gas station. It’s no longer a suitcase full of magazines tucked in the back of a closet; it’s readily accessible to anyone. We remain vigilant. At the same time, we hope that when they do have questions (oh, and they will… ), they will feel comfortable coming to us and won’t rely on some moldy collection of smut found in the woods.
Until then, it’s Kenny G in the car for long road trips.