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'We Basically Handed Her a Porn Machine': Practical Horrors of Raising Children in the Internet Age

By Courtney Enlow | Miscellaneous | October 24, 2016 |

By Courtney Enlow | Miscellaneous | October 24, 2016 |

So, I don’t want to shock you, but the internet is a weird place. YouTube might be the weirdest. Especially in the realm of videos for kids. Even on YouTube Kids, there’s just weird shit that somehow manages to become massive. Adult hands opening kids toys, eggs covered in Play-Doh, and, well, whatever this is.

Off-putting but innocuous videos such as this can lead one down a related-videos rabbit hole. And when you’re 4 years old, there’s no way of telling what is and is not appropriate.

Yes. This is heading in the exact direction you think. This is the story of how my child came to love weird incest shipper videos.

My 4-year-old daughter is an amazing small human, weird and delightful and far too smart. She has been able to easily navigate iPhones and iPads since she was about 10 months old. I don’t care about anyone’s negative concept of screentime for children—her iPad is the best purchase we ever made. It keeps her occupied for an hour here and there while we attend to her 1-year-old brother or work or more importantly our own televised entertainment. And because she’s playing educational games or watching kids programming either on Netflix or YouTube Kids, it’s never been anything we worried about.

Until. Oh, until.

About two weeks ago, her iPad died in the middle of a very important YouTube video and she lost her complete shit. She and her brother were both terribly sick with bad colds and we were fighting to get him to sleep and her bedtime was still an hour or so away, so we just kneejerkedly handed her one of our phones to keep the peace. She doesn’t need any help with her games or “Neckflix” or “the red triangle” (what she calls YouTube), so we just let her go. Because it’s kid videos. The worst thing she’s seen is some Ukrainian alphabet video that referred to a donkey as “ass.” We’ve never worried. We never had to.


Over the next couple days, she asked me if she could watch the video of Anna and Elsa in flip-flops. I searched YouTube Kids and couldn’t find anything. Kid was pissed. Then she started asking to watch our phones, even though her iPad, which didn’t have regular YouTube, it should be noted, was fully charged. Then she started asking if she could “wear my flip-flops” and would then take off all her clothes except her underwear and just dance around in her flip-flops. It’s fine. She’s 4. Cool cool cool. Then Anna and Elsa needed to take their clothes off for flip-flop time, too. Huh, OK, cool. Cool, cool, cool. Then Anna and Elsa needed to take off their clothes “so they can hug.”

This request occurred in front of my in-laws, so that was neat.

I immediately called my husband, who is a counselor.

“This is normal. It’s a bit early, but this is a totally typical stage of development.”

He reassured me all was well, this was just normal stuff. And I mean, a kid dancing in her underwear wearing flip-flops staring in the mirror at her own fierceness? That’s pretty hilarious. So I let it be, as flip-flop time became a nightly event.

And then came Saturday. She insisted on watching one of our phones and deeply exhausted from another rough night with these still-sick kids (and my sick self—we just trade this shit back and forth like pogs) I handed it right over. After a few minutes, I glance over and see Anna and Elsa in bikinis and flip-flops. There was a moment of delight—FINALLY. Finally I know what the flip-flops video is.

And then they started making out.

My feelings were rich and layered.

So, for background, there is a sizeable community of Anna/Elsa shippers, most notably on Reddit’s Elsanna community. The content therein can be rather graphic, or it can be fairly innocent. As innocent as sisters fucking can be.

This video, her beloved “flip-flops,” wasn’t terribly explicit. It was just Anna and Elsa sweetly “practicing kissing” in their tiny thong bikinis. You know, like sisters do. But the sudden rush of realization, the impetus for flip-flop time, naked Anna/Elsa hugs and the idea that my child was gleefully watching something created for the express purpose of jerk-off fuel, it was a lot. I took the phone away. And she sobbed hysterically.

“Jules, I don’t think this is a very good video.”
“That’s not how sisters act, babe.”

I took away the softcore computer animation porn she’d come to love so much. I was a monster.

And the thing is, because this video wasn’t just straight up hardcore sisterfucktime porn, I was wholly unsure how to navigate any kind of conversation. I didn’t want her to think it was bad for people to kiss, for two women to kiss. IT WAS THE SISTER REDDIT SHIP-PORN AND MY TINY BABY ANGEL 4-YEAR-OLD WATCHING IT THING. And it was my fault! I’d handed her a porn machine. Willingly!

Anyway, she’s been mad at me for three days. Also I hid her flip-flops. Because it’s too soon, guys, it’s just too soon.