Think of the children: Porn blocks and passive parenting

I don’t like children. I don’t like their screaming, I don’t like their crying, and I certainly don’t find the idea of something puking on me “adorable”. Suffice to say… I don’t exactly plan on becoming a parent.

At least, that’s what I always thought. Only recently have I come to reach a staggering conclusion. It turns out that despite my loathsome aversion to children, I am in fact… a parent. I’ve been a parent all along. I mean, I must be. Why else would my Sky box ask for a pin in order to watch horror movies? Why would scenes of a violent or sexual nature be increasingly banned on my television set? Why would my internet provider auto-block content that isn’t appropriate for children? The only possible explanation – at least that I can think of – is that I must be a parent. If I wasn’t, it would be as though I was being penalised for the decisions of others. And that wouldn’t be fair, would it?

I originally began to realise that I must be a parent during the last season of Celebrity Big Brother. As I’m sure you can imagine, I’ve never actually seen an episode of “CBB”. Personally, if I wanted to watch the closely monitored mistreatment of barely-human entities, I’d visit a BUPA care home. Having said that however, I do recall reading about the last series in several major newspapers.

Apparently, one of the post-watershed episodes (yes post-watershed) depicted scenes of a crudely sexual nature – specifically something involving gimp suits. Following a stream of complaints, the mainstream media took it upon themselves to replay the offending footage over and over again, helpfully constructing outrage, while also utilising the saucy scenes to boost ratings.

From the original complaints, the vast majority of criticism was driven by parenting websites and professional wrist-slapping groups. These groups were putting forward the case that more should be done to protect the delicate mental welfare of ‘our children’.

While all very noble, the only problem with this statement is… I don’t have children. I’m not a parent!

The way I see it, if I played no role in the creation of any children, then I should play no role in the upbringing of any children. Why should I adapt my lifestyle as a result of a decision that I had absolutely no involvement in?

We are living in the age of passive parenting. Much like passive smoking, a passive parent doesn’t actually have to have kids in order to suffer their effects (yes, I did just compare children to a carcinogen). Somehow the burden of responsibility has shifted from the individual parent, to society as a whole. There was a time when parents wouldn’t dream of leaving their children to watch post-watershed television, now however, it is the responsibility of post-watershed television to become more child-friendly. Similarly, where once parents would pay £35 for a decent internet filter (or install a free browser app), ISPs are now expected to auto-block content right across the board.

Somehow, parenting is no longer a personal journey. Where once it was a private decision that would forever alter an individual’s life, it is now a public decision that will ultimately result in some sort of change to the way I live my life.

Still, I suppose it’s all for the best. After all, our children are the future. Well… your children anyway.

Alex Warren
Alex Warren
Miserablist, whiskey-drinker, and general tinpot shambles. Alex Warren has a weary pessimism for all things media, politics and tech.