Thursday, February 11, 2016

Porn and Benches

As I mentioned in my post last week, we have entered a whole new world of parenting at my house.

Both boys now have Instagram accounts.

We are parenting social media.

Lord help us.

I stressed over this decision.  I fight hard and passionately that my kids stay kids for as long as possible. No violent or inappropriate movies or video games, no phones in elementary school, no TV access in their room, no unlimited screen time.

I believe in age ratings and shoving my kids outside to make up games and I'm crazy for strict bedtimes.

So agreeing to an account like this was sort of big.

Now, for Cole I wasn't too worried.  His primary concerns for Instagram were that he could follow Barack Obama and Justin Bieber.

(Cats of Instagram was a close third to the previous two. Cole also just purchased a book of poems "written by cats," and has memorized several poems.  This is Cole.)

Cole also has very few, if any, friends on Instagram.

For Aiden, however, Instagram meant a constant connection to communicate with friends.

Did you know Instagram has a messaging feature?

Me either.

Oops.

He uses Instagram for a periodic picture of himself giving the peace sign, but mostly to chat with a small group of friends, which includes boys and girls.

Their fourth grade discussions are strange, sort of amusing, but mostly annoying and confusing.  

And every conversation starts with "sup" and discusses how each person is mostly "chillin'."

(They clearly need more to do.)

Where does their language come from?  Do these kids realize they are upper middle class white kids in suburbia?  Are they watching a lot of rap videos?  Are they friends with some older "street" people that I don't know?

Other than finding a lot of this odd, I was pretty much as peace with the Instagram thing. Scrolling through photos of approved friends and posting photos of their geckos or siblings on their feeds.

Then I read this article.  What I Wish Every Parents Knew About Instagram.

Dammit Instagram.

If you don't want to read the full article, basically some Instagram hashtags are being used to publish pornographic photos, (not typical porn hashtags either, more seemingly innocent ones,) and Instagram is doing a very pathetic job at taking down the photos after people have reported them.

I can't tell you how good it feels to be able to have JUST signed my kids up for a photo feed of potential porn.

(That's sarcasm in case someone is new here.)

(Or, Mom.)

What I am about to write in no way, shape, or form means I am OK with porn on Instagram.

I'm very firmly anti-porn.

No porn.

No thank you.

I'm grateful to have the porn conversation starting though.  Let's talk.

Porn wasn't something I was planning on talking to my kids about this week.  I talk about all sorts of things with all of them, but at times the list of BIG things to discuss gets a little heavy and sometimes I just want to listen to Cole tell jokes and Stella describe her latest sequence of crazy.

So porn hadn't made it in the discussion rotation yet.  Already earlier this week we had a lengthy discussion about circumcision, cyber bullying, and another round of curse word explanations.

I'm feeling a little tapped out, but let's talk porn.

So we did.

Cole, Aiden, and I talked about hashtags, then naked photos on social media, then porn.

And it went really, really well.

This is the time.  They love to talk and ask and are so uninhibited and curious right now.

I assume they will always think I am the most informed and intelligent source of information, but just in case I want their foundations to come from me.  This way when they hear craziness on the bus they are armed with knowledge and facts they can feel confident about...and I pray knowledge that they have a Mom that they know they can ask pretty much anything.

We discussed how the naked body is amazing and there is nothing wrong with seeing that, but how that can be twisted and isn't really something to see on your electronic device. We talked about watching a train wreck and how sometimes you have to stop yourself from looking at something if there is a little voice that says, 'this isn't good for me.' We talked about how it can mess with your brain and your heart and it can actually be really, really harmful to your future joy.

(Did you know that young men are actually having a more and more difficult time enjoying or even having sex with an actual woman because so many have been continuously exposed to pornography so they are conditioned to those images for their pleasure?)

(That was not something we discussed.)

(I do not want that for my boys.)

It's here people, it's happening.

I also had read through the string of messages Aiden was participating in, because of my strong parenting/snooping skills, and became concerned that the conversation had taken a turn to a more inappropriate place.

Several of the kids were referring to "benches" and who's "bench" could sit by certain boys.

You probably are confused, because you aren't as a good of a parent as I am.

Or because it makes zero sense.

So I hopped on my phone and messaged another Mom with a boy involved in the conversation.  She had also been monitoring the conversation and was also concerned about the "bench" talk.

Side Note: Yay for other Moms who are watching out!

We both had come to the same conclusion, because we are intelligent and worldly women, that the "benches" were really "bitches" and we were going to have to chat with our boys.

When I brought this up with Aiden he looked genuinely confused and sort of disturbed that I was even saying the word bitches. He assured me he would try to figure out what was going on with that discussion.

I felt compelled to have another heavy discussion about disrespecting women in general by the use of the word bitch.  How the tone of the conversation was implying multiple girls were wanting to be one boys "bitch" and that was sad for them, and everyone is special, and on and on and on.

I was very inspiring.

This morning my friend and I learned that benches is literally referring to a bench.

As in which bench at recess are people hanging out around.

It's possible I'm a tad bit in overdrive here with the big bad world around my kids.

It's also possible my friend and I have listened to a bit too much rap music in the 90s.

Sometimes benches are just benches.

I'm sure Aiden is going to really soak in all my bitch talk though and be the most amazing young man ever.

Social media is annoying and scary...but I think mostly I'm grateful for the platform to start these insanely uncomfortable and important talks.

And the messaging feature is providing the sweetest of conversations when I leave Aiden for an hour or so home alone.



I have a lot of street cred.

Thank you Instagram.

Peace out.

1 comment:

momnextdoor said...

I love this post. And not just because you asked "Are they watching a lot of rap videos? Are they friends with some older "street" people that I don't know?" Although a lot of it has to do with that! But also because I'm spastic when it comes to conversations likes these and now I know where to go for good answers. My parents never had the hard conversations with us and I'm determined to have open dialogue with my kids about the uncomfortable stuff. So far I've been managing but your answer to the porn thing was excellent and I know I wouldn't have come up with such a great answer. So if you start getting Instagram messages from me you'll know why! ;-) <3