I want to begin this by letting you know that I am about to admit one… no… the biggest failure as a parent that I have committed so far. I have been totally shattered, and it’s something that could happen to any of you. You are not immune!
My oldest son has been acting different lately. Normally, he will just come up to me and say “I’m happy.” Lately, he has been rude, disrespectful, grumpy, and withdrawn. I could attribute this to a few things. For instance, dad just came home after serving overseas for two years, he was cut from his baseball team, or he was having trouble in school. Never once did I consider the true root of the problem.
A week ago, I caught my son texting his friends from his Kindle Fire at 11:00pm. I took the device away. The next morning, I told him he couldn’t have it for two days and that he would tell me his pass code. He conveniently forgot it. At that moment, my mommy senses were beeping. After school and into the evening, he still couldn’t remember the pass code. Now, my mommy senses were shaking me by the throat. My husband got involved and magically, my son remembered the pass code.
I took his Kindle and began looking the texting program he has, Kik. Mostly, innocent stuff, just wasn’t happy about kids texting at 10:30pm – 11:00pm. I mean aren’t children supposed to be asleep at that hour?! Anyway, I went through every conversation and ending up finding my son using some bad language. He was talking to a few girls, saying some very disrespectful words. I was shocked! I mean, truly shocked! My husband went to talk to him about it. I stayed behind to continue my investigation.
Some one had sent him a link to a picture. I clicked on it and up popped a picture of Justin Bieber. Harmless. However, by doing that, it opened the internet access app… this is when my world came crumbling down. I found porn sites… hard-core… and not just one. The screen that came up had six different boxes of videos to click on. The still images made me want to vomit. I couldn’t bring myself to hit play. I proceeded to check the “history” where I found about 10-15 other links. Just the names of the links disturbed me in ways I can’t explain.
When my husband returned from his talk, I showed him my latest discovery. We were both dumbfounded. I spent the next few hours scouring that device. I didn’t find anything else, but what I had already found was more than enough. I wiped the device out, setting it back to the factory defaults. The parental controls on a Kindle just plain suck. On an iPod, you can set different levels (i.e. G, PG, etc.); on a Kindle you either allow web access or you don’t. Basically, I can no longer “allow,” access but by not allowing, the device is useless to him.
I talked to my son the next day. I was sobbing. I mean I have failed him. He has seen something that no person (in my opinion) should see, much less a ten-year old child. He can’t un-see the images that he saw… ever. He has been visually raped… and it happened on my watch. I can not begin to tell you the despair I feel over that fact.
Anyway, I still had to find out how these images came to be. Was he searching for them? Did someone send him a link? His response (and it seemed pretty genuine) was that it was a pop-up that came from Pandora. Pandora is a music website/app. Now, understand that I myself have Pandora and have never seen such trash pop up on my phone. I asked him what the heck he was listening to because it obviously wasn’t Christian music. I didn’t really wait for an answer.
I’m still not 100% positive how these sites came to be on the Kindle, but I clicked on every link that someone sent him and none of them went to anything bad. I couldn’t find anything that he searched for like that. This leads me to believe that he may be telling the truth. If so, I can’t believe that something so seemingly innocent has brought such awful things into my home.
I’m sharing this with you because if it can happen to us, it can happen to you. And, once it happens, it’s too late. I urge you to set parental controls on your children’s devices. I had them set on the iPod, but not the Kindle. Look at your child’s devices daily, weekly, whatever… don’t assume that they would never do such a thing. They may not have a choice… it may pop up by itself. If you don’t know how to or what to check, ask another parent. Talk to your child if you notice a difference in their behavior, I guarantee there is a reason. Might not be this reason, but I guarantee there is a reason. Be proactive because the consequences are totally devastating.
I encourage you to share this with your friends.
“I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. It hate what faithless people do; I will have no part in it.” Psalm 101:3