Redditor dad advises son on safe porn surfing

When a redditor discovered his 13 year old son had been surfing porn, he shared this and other loving advice in the form of a note: “There are sites that are completely safe and you can go on them and not have your computer turned into a piece of junk.” Naturally, the dad posted it on reddit and things went wild. (via Salon)


  1. The dad should hide some porn out in the woods for the kid. Woods porn never messed up anyone’s Commodore 64 back in the day.

    1.  Holy cow. 1970, seven years old, stash of Playboys and Penthouses in a hollow tree in the undeveloped plots out back of our neighborhood. Google maps shows me it’s all strip malls now. To this day, I can’t stand “shaved” porn.

    2. Ah, yes. Porn out in the woods – I remember it well.  How did it get there? Was it someone else’s stash, or did a predator leave it there as bait? (At the time, it turns out there was a predator hanging out that side of the neighborhood.)  Another time (several years later) I found an issue of ‘Playboy’ lying on the ground, on a new street with no houses. It’s not as though it had fallen out of someone’s garbage or briefcase etc. and it was the opposite of hidden. Hmmm.

    3. We used to find porn along the railroad tracks below a huge embankment and a high bridge crossing the tracks.  Apparently some good samaritan would chuck them down there knowing that only delinquents would be there to find them.  I mentioned this to a neighbor years later and he said “OMG, I used to find those too!”

      “……..Several times in my life, I have accidentally stumbled upon suitcases full of “smut” that someone had anonymously but carefully abandoned — perhaps knowing that someone (like me and you!) would appreciate it…..”

    4. Bag of porn in the woods – I love that it was a semi-universal experience. The bag we knew of was chock full o’ porn, but it was so waterlogged and almost petrified, it made looking at porn like peeling an onion – we worked hard to peel layers to the next almost recognizable picture. 

    5. I had no idea this was such a common thing.  Back when I was 10 to 13, it seems like I’d always run into a dirty mag when I was wandering around outdoors.  Sometimes, I’d just have to think “This is the kind of place someone might leave a porno mag” and then I’d find one.  Inside a collapsed log cabin by the side of highway during a family road trip.  In a trash can at the rest stop, while out collecting aluminum cans with Grandma.  On the side of the road while looking for a places to shoot bottle rockets out of view of the houses.

  2. A letter from one generation to the next about sex: “be careful and don’t mess up your junk.”  Things never change.

  3. I don’t watch porn, I guess I’m just not visually oriented, but from what I’ve heard, it varies from people celebrating their sexuality on-camera to, at the opposite extreme, people being coerced off-camera and raped on-camera,

    So ethics, and finding out what performers and former performers say about each project and/or company should matter at least as much as security.

    1. Linda Lovelace notwithstanding, it’s a myth that people are forced to be in porn. And I’d argue porn isn’t just films made by companies, there are hundreds of thousands of women taking pictures of themselves in mirrors solely so guys can whack off to them.

      In the films mostly you don’t find people celebrating their sexuality on-camera as much as you see a sad predictable progression from blowjob, to fucking, to the money shot on the face.

      1. Don’t think that’s true.  Look up shock therapy capitalism in Eastern Europe just for starters.

    2. Doing proper prudence on porn is about as viable as doing it on the plastic crap you buy from China (ie. impossible). You don’t know under what circumstances it is made, and there’s no way to check.

      Whilst I’m sure there’d be a market for fair-trade, organic smut, the reality is that most people aren’t going to give a damn about it. It’s simply too hard for an individual to follow up whether their porn is “ethical” or not with any degree of certainty.

        1. So, as far as you are concerned, the better the actor, the better their circumstances? And what about editing? You are not seeing reality – you are seeing what is presented to you (which is one of the inherent criticisms of media in general, and porn in particular).

          Besides, your method fails miserably in the face of kink. I’ve seen plenty of wince-worthy porn where the star has been grinning from ear-to-ear in the post scene interview, and covered in bruises and welts. Consent is a tricky thing to outside observers in the real world (eg. people can consent to acts that they enjoy that other people are shocked by), I don’t see why it would be any simpler in porn.

          1. Looking for coercion-free porn? Find a well-known porn star. See that they are in hundreds of videos. They probably aren’t being coerced.

  4. I’m just concerned with the bad information dad is giving son about computers:
    “There are viruses and other scamware that can completly ruin a computer and I can’t afford to buy you another 1800 dollar machine because you went to a site that fried it.”

    1. Is that bad information, or is Dad simply admitting he doesn’t know how to do a clean install of Windows?

      My dad doesn’t know how to do a clean install of Windows either. I think he’s wound up with multiple installations of Win7 on the same partition. THAT’S fun to troubleshoot over the phone.

      1.  My Dad’s an old IBMer from the ’60s, but he sure doesn’t get contemporary PCs and the Internet. Mom passed away last week, and while my sisters were going through her clothes and jewelry, I spent all my time repairing corrupt files, backing up essential data, and lecturing my grieving father about the horrors of Norton Utilities, and why doing an unnecessary hard reboot while an external process is running probably not a good idea.

    2.  He admitted in the thread that he was just trying to scare the boy and actually left that part out of the letter.

  5. “Fried” may be hyperbole, but it is possible to get a computer badly-enough compromised that the typical user would require expensive professional help to correct the situation.

  6. Think I remember a Neil Gaiman interview where he said he caught his son surfing for porn and said, essentially, “You can have my old Playboys, but trust me, you do not want to look for porn on the Internet; you will see things you will wish to God you had not seen.  Wait until you’re older and can deal with that.”

    That sounds like very good advice to me.

    1.  quite true, what is seen can’t be unseen. I still occasionally shiver with disgust when my mind recalls the photos of the pig on woman sex display at the Amsterdam sex museum back in the 90s. Both Pig and woman seemed to be very much into it. Vomit.

      1.  Ha, I deliberately avoided the sex museums in Amsterdam during my mid-90’s high school trip there, after a friend stumbled out of one babbling about the animals. NO THANKS!

        1. An adult male friend of mine went into one of those sex booth shows in Amsterdam. He wasn’t clear on exactly what he was expecting, but a woman doing squats while lifting iron weightlifting plates with her labia piercings wasn’t it.

      2. I can’t even imagine, urgh. I think I’d be showering forever. I wish I could unsee just reading about it. 

  7. Yeah, I read that on Reddit.  I’d like to say it’s swell to be all hipster and just point your 13 year old child to “safe” porn sites, because geez, he’s just going to look at it anyway, right?  There are some pretty nasty things out there on the interwebz, porn being one of the more mundane things.  I can’t help but feel his father was more interested in being his buddy, than being a parent.  It’s a good thing to set boundaries, have expectations and ramifications for not meeting them.

    I can’t help but feel that my getting a hold of my father’s Playboys or Penthouse is a pretty far cry from watching hardcore pornography at 13.  My parent’s were open about sex education, many are not, and American public education in sexual health is a train wreck, depending on where you live, even in this far flung year of 2012.  I’m pretty sure hardcore porn is the best place to get that education, but then I’m an self-avowed non-hipster.

    That doesn’t even address the zillions of murder, death, suicide, war videos out there that kids routinely watch, which is probably worse on the psyche.

    There is no reason my child needs a computer in his bedroom with unfettered internet access, or needs to have unmonitored time on the internet, especially at 13.  Having the world of information at your fingertips can be a great thing, but understanding the why of why people do the things they do is just as important as the how, and that only comes with maturity.   In the end, I think it’s bad parenting.

    1. I get what you are saying in many ways.

      However, at age 13, the combined powers of America, The UN, The Avengers, Darth Vader, and Santa Clause would not have been able to stop my endless search for b00bies. 

      With the way technology is, short of stranding him in the middle of the Sahara, that kid will find a way to view hardcore porn. 

    2. I’m sorry to say it, but it’s too late for a parochial attitude about this. If you ‘limit’ access to the internet, you are not limiting anything. They’ll surf porn on their cellphone if they can. You are much better off being their friend and guide than TSA-agent.

    3. “Sure, I was exposed to porn at 13 and I turned out fine, but nobody else could possibly have the same experience. Think of the children!”

    4. If your 13 year-old doesn’t already have a complete knowledge of how sex and sexual health work, you’ve already failed as a parent. A hell of a lot of 12 year-olds are already sexually active. And maybe wouldn’t be if their parents had been more forthcoming.

    5. Ignorance is bliss, I guess.

      Parenting doesn’t mean you keep them in the dark about things just because you’re too uncomfortable to deal with it.  It means prepping them for the real world.  If a child is already masturbating to porn, there’s not a lot you can do to stop it. It’s far better to explain to them the safe way to do things (and start talking about safe sex while you’re at it) rather than to pretend like they won’t if you just lock them down a little more.

      Parenting isn’t about making you feel more comfortable by shielding them from everything.  This father is doing exactly what he should be doing and the child will likely turn out far better emotionally than the sheltered child you’re suggesting we create.

      Plus, it’s unfortunate that you don’t have enough respect for your child to simply state, “Hey, there’s some stuff on the internet you probably don’t want to see, so let me at least give you some tips on what to avoid.  There’s some vile, nasty stuff out there.” 

      Forcing your kids to stay out of trouble should be your last resort. Ideally, you should be teaching them to avoid stupid mistakes in the first place, since ultimately you have less control over them than you think you do.

  8. The Internet really is like a city. If you spend all your time in the suburbs or the central business district, you’re mostly OK. There’s a lot of adventure to be found in some other parts of the city, but if you go there, it’s best to know how to defend yourself against typical threats.

  9. I think the worst thing about parents being “preachy” on the topic of porn is they are often not being honest with themselves. At least this dad didn’t make that mistake.
    I love my mom to death, but I can clearly remember how much of a hypocrite I thought she was when she sat me and my brothers down for the “no porn in my house” speech, when I knew she had been trading vhs tapes with a family friend. I found them in her nightstand while on a search for batteries one day.

    And props to the dad for telling his son how porn doesn’t accurately portray women in real life, but I do think he should have worked that topic out with his boy some more. I’ve always felt porn is a pro-choice and personal responsibility matter, but even I am disconcerted by the seemingly prevalent amount of consumer demand for images of harmful transgression and humiliation these days.

    Edit: edited for awkward phrasing…”the demand for harmful transgression and humiliation images these days.”

  10. I’m thinking about doing a tutorial for my DAD, it’s embarrassing to have to clean up his computer every year or so…

    Also, the day my son turns 10 will be the day I’ll subscribe Playboy and leave the stash barely “hidden” (will not go as far as encourage peeping, but it will be quite easy for him to find). The rationale behind this approach is that the easiest access he’ll have to naked girls, the less incentive he’ll have to spend time searching online (and eventually bumping into nasty stuff).

    Also, personal computer is a no-no until he has the means to buy one by himself. Until then, he must use the family’s computer (so better *I* keep my browsing history clean, lol).

    1. Also, the day my son turns 10 will be the day I’ll subscribe Playboy and leave the stash barely “hidden”…the easiest access he’ll have to naked girls, the less incentive he’ll have to spend time searching online…

      You may get a shock when you find him surfing musclebear sites.

  11. Back in early 90’s the internet wasn’t what it is today…but fortunately my best friend has one of those old school 18 foot satellite dishes and a descrambler.  It didn’t take long for a couple of young teenagers to find the porn.

    I remember thinking, “Man this camera angle is just too close…can we pull back about 3 feet.”

    1. Back in the 90’s… A friend of mine could dial up to any number of dark BBS’s… I remember thinking… holy shit.

  12. The only thing I would have done is caution that porn isn’t “real”. Depending on what he is watching, he could get the idea that treating women poorly (gagging, slapping, etc) is status quo. That is the only thing I worry about with today’s youth – unrealistic or unhealthy expectations of what sex it.

  13. “Son, porn is to sex as an 8 minute lap of the Nurburgring is to a drive up the Sonoma coastline on a sunny Sunday morning.  One is performed by practiced professionals for your entertainment.   The other is something you should do frequently.  To confuse the two could be catastrophic.”

  14. Interesting story and it sounds like the kid took it well.
    This seems like a fairly good parenting moment, its going to happen your moral panic isn’t going to stop it and might screw the kid up worse.

    One of the questions in my mind is would he have been as cool had it been gay porn?

  15. I saw this thread on Reddit a while back and read some of it. I thought it was nice that the dad had a progressive attitude about sex instead of shaming the poor kid about something we all do/think about. But I was a little curious as to how people would have responded if the situation were a little different. Would Redditors have given the same advice (ie teach your kid about safe porn sites and how to erase your search history) if the man’s child had been gay? What if it was a girl? What if he was watching non-vanilla porn like BDSM? I’m not making any point or passing judgement, I’m just curious about the way people reacted to this situation and if that reaction would have been the same regardless of their comfort level.

    1. My friends thoroughly explained the ways of the world to their 12 year-old daughter. As a result, when (at 14) she decided to try the sex thing, she was quite comfortable demanding that the boy wear a condom and setting limits about what she was willing to do. And quite comfortable afterward telling the young gentleman that she wouldn’t return to the subject for a couple more years. No pregnancies, no diseases, straight As in school and college. And she’s felt in control of her life throughout the whole thing, so she’s very confident in relationships.

      1. That’s fantastic! I wish more parents would do that. A parents responsibility is to instruct and guide. We’re raising adults after all and we can’t always be there to make decisions for them. I’m especially glad they took this route with their daughter. As a long-time Redditor I’m used to seeing the double standard most people hold when it comes to young women. Young men on Reddit are often given advice on how to get a girl to sleep with them and are praised for their conquests. But when a young woman having sex is part of the discussion the men joke about locking their daughters up, discouraging sexual exploration, harming young men who pursue them and how horrified they are when they find out their daughters are sexually active. It’s a strange sort of cognitive dissidence considering the high-fiving they give their sons. Who do they think their sons are sleeping with if not each other’s daughters?

        I don’t necessarily want young people to have sex because most of them simply aren’t ready for the potential ramifications, but the fact is that they’re going to have sex and they’re going to look for porn online. All you can do is be honest with them, answer their questions, make sure they really really understand the pros and cons and give them the courage to only do what they want to do and the understanding that one’s sexual partners aren’t just objects of entertainment, but real people with real needs and real feelings.

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