Kids And Internet Porn

The Saturday Early Show's family and adolescence counselor, Mike Riera provides advice to parents who e-mailed us to "Ask Mike" about their problems with their kids.

This time, he answers a parenting question about kids who are taking an X-rated tour of the Internet and concerns about using gifts as motivation for kids to do the right thing.

BOYS AND ONLINE PORN

Dear Mike:

I have two boys, ages 17 and almost 19. Their father and I have caught them looking at pornography on the Internet. What do you recommend we do in this situation?

Mike's response: This is not unusual for teenagers, especially boys. They are sexually curious, and the Internet is too tempting: type a few words into a search engine, and all sorts of stuff pops up. No matter how many filters or how much protection you have, much of it is still available.

So, keep it in perspective. It's not the end of the world. They are responding to their curiosity, just not appropriately. In fact, very inappropriately.

They are also testing some limits and trying to see if you are really paying attention.

All in all, it means it's time for some discussion and some clear guidelines. Let them know where you stand on pornography. Ask them questions, and expect to hear about what all the other kids are doing. It is shocking. Then, after you've really heard them out, tell them the guidelines.

WHAT KINDS OF RULES SHOULD THIS COUPLE SET?

  • No Internet pornography in our house.
  • Online computer is off-limits at certain hours, especially late at night
  • Require them to not erase the history in their Internet browser so you can check on their Internet activity.
Bottom line: This generation of boys is way past Playboy magazine, and we have to catch ourselves up to what the new temptations are and how to hold the line.

Similar restrictions would apply to girls, but pornography generally is not the big worry there. The main concern for girls online would tend more to chat rooms and sexual solicitations online from strangers.

LETTER 2

PAYING FOR CHORES

Here's another letter from Mike's mailbag.

Dear Mike:

My stepson has been promised a car by his mother, if he makes As and Bs on his report card.

My husband offered him a pair of $150 boots for helping on a brake job.

This boy is 15 years old and was brought up thinking money is everything.

I offered him an allowance of $20 a week, providing he feeds the dog and carries out the trash. He said no.

I want to help him, but I have no one on my side.

Mike's response: Ugh! Hate situations like this: money as the motivator. What it does is stop kids from internalizing the good feelings about accomplishing something.

Rewards, in general, are not long-lasting motivators, and more than frequently, they undermine the development of internal motivation.

For example, research with 5th and 6th graders involved in tutoring shows that they are much less effective if they are promised free movie tickets rather than doing it just for the good feelings of tutoring. And young children, when rewarded for drawing, are much less likely to draw on their own than kids who just draw for the fun of it.

WHAT SHOULD THIS STEPMOTHER DO?

  • Don't try to compete by offering rewards. Instead, ask questions to cement internal rewards like: "Feels nice to organize yourself, doesn't it?" or "That was great, the way you helped out after dinner.'
  • Over time, this approach will take hold, but in the short run, expect an attitude of "What's in it for me?"
  • Sorry to say it may take a while, like years.
Hang in there!

Featured