01-06-2022 07:07 PM - last edited on 02-08-2022 11:53 AM by Philippa-RO
Hi, I have recently discovered that my son has been messaging and chatting with a girl , on an app called Discord, that he went to primary school with (now at different high schools) for the last 3 months. I woke up during the night and found him on his ipad. I didnt think to check his ipad as he has been 100% interested in using it for games only, since he got it. I noticed message history and saw extremely inappropriate sexual messaging between (what turns out to be himself and this girl).
Much investigating my myself and I approached him for a chat, after i had disgested the reality of my introverted, intellectual son being involved in this messaging. Explained what I saw and my concerns with it in terms of his age and said we needed to put some boundaries in place for devices, given the highly inappropriate discussions. I wanted to reach out to her parents, but my son and I discussed how he might approach setting boundaries with her if they were to continue messaging. He was very concerned of upsetting her by 'ghosting' her if his devices were removed and we decided to give him a chance to talk to her and he would no longer allow any sexual references in their conversations.
i also put a time limit on his ipad and it locks from 10pm until 7am and we agreed that devices (Ipad and phone) would be kept downstairs at night out of his bedroom. I also said I would do the same.
ITwo nights have passed and I looked at his phone history and he has managed to sneek his phone to message during the night for both nights as it doesn't have the time lock on it. The message history was probably even worse then originally and this girl is clearly in an family violence situation at home and has clear emotional issues - saying she will get rid of herself etc. and my son it really emotionally invested. She seems to initiate all of the sexual comments, asking him to do things and keeps asking if he loves her and wanting to meet up with him in person (seems to have been all digital contact so far.
I'm super concerned about my son recently starting to lie about little things (such as, "have you have breakfast" -Yes, when he has no real reason to lie) and sneaky behaviour. He tried to get my permission to get the bus to the shopping centre to met his school friend but said it was cancelled when I said I would contact the frisn'd mu yo check. He is an empathetic boy and I;m worried about his emotional welfare and guilty that I was so busy with life over the past few months that I only had time to notice this when I was on holidays.
We have had around 3 good discussions about this (although not today's find) and I tried to show him I wanted to trust him and have to date, but that stopped today and I took both devices and said they are banned!
No idea what to do from here as I don't feel our chats are enough. Don't want to involve Dad as he is highly explosive and I don't want to ruin my relationship with my son when we have just hit the teenage years!
Does anyone relate to this situation or have any advice, please?
01-09-2022 05:41 PM - last edited on 01-10-2022 12:31 PM by Janine-RO
It is quite normal to need these feelings in your life -If you're just taking the device away and repressing the behaviour, where's the outlet? What alternative way have you given him to have those feelings?
It's impossible for you to come up with an answer for that of course; how we get involved with the people we like and what we like them is a very personal thing.
And it's not Discord itself, that's just a method of communication, in my day it was Yahoo chat. You might even be cutting off other forms of social interaction he has if he's formed other friend networks through there. You'll have to check that for yourself by talking with him.
Likely because he's so introverted, online chat is the first real intimacy he's had with a woman, and I'm speaking from experience . When I was a teenager, I was not encouraged to go out and make friends and given a good model of how to socialise at the time (though I think my parents did their best, they just didn't know how to do any better), so I had a similar experience, and I guess I'm lucky they just never found out. In the end, due to external messaging from society, I found my own drive to move out and grow as a person. Not everyone is so lucky though. The lucky ones have parents that have the urge to give them examples of how to socialise, either consiously or not, by having people over, family gatherings, going out, etc.
This boy needs direction, it's not enough to say he's introverted and leave him alone, he needs a good model for how to go out and make real life connections instead of semi-real ones online.
Your son might be the only outlet for this girl's sanity, and while on one hand some other random family's problems are not yours to bear, on the other hand this could be a very important relationship to him and his development. This is his first intimate experience, and the feelings he will associate with this by you cutting her out are going to affect his development whether you like it or not. At the same time, you're right about being concerned about the level of inappropriate influence, but the flood gates are opened, you won't convince him this is a "bad" thing now, it feels too good.
And his care for her welfare won't go away with you banning the device either. He will always wonder what happened to her and resent you for it.
I think it's very possible you're too worried about the content of the messages and it's possible that cutting her out will do more damage to his social development than whatever fantasies they are exploring. Again, speaking from experience.
The long term importance is he learns to move towards having connections with people in real life, before he gets addicted to what he knows. Again, speaking from experience. It wasn't too bad, I just had to change what gets me "turned on". I was too used to imagining it instead of doing it.
In my opinion you should talk with him about what is appropriate for his age and what he needs to work towards so he can experience these things in real life. It will be a transition. One of the big realisations for me was when one of my online girlfriends was moving on, and told me "You have to find real people, that you can touch and hug for real". Something to that effect. It didn't happen instantly but it was one little thing of many things that caused a transition over time.
01-11-2022 05:02 PM
Hi @nichens ,
This sounds like such a difficult situation for you to navigate- how are things going for the both of you now? I can imagine that it would have been really hard to have those conversations for you- it's great that he was at least open to talking about what's been happening, and it sounds like you're really committed to trying to build up that trust with him. It must have been quite a shock to see the sexually inappropriate messages- we have some resources here that may be helpful to share with him around sexting. This one is aimed at parents, and this piece is written for young people . It sounds like you're doing a great job at talking to him about boundaries and acceptable behaviour online, which is great.
Banning him from devices altogether might be tricky at this stage, do you think that going back to a time limit on his devices might be a workable middle ground?
If you think it might be helpful for you to be able to talk through these issues with a professional, we do offer a free one to one support service for parents, you can find more information about that here.
It sounds like this girl is having a really difficult time at the moment, and I'm wondering if your son is also feeling responsible for her wellbeing - do you know if she has any support at the moment apart from your son?
Wishing you all the best, hope to hear back from you soon
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