Au Pair’s Host Child Using iPad Improperly– How should she discuss with Host Parents?

by cv harquail on December 16, 2015

Apologies, readers, for the euphemism in the headline — by “improperly”, we’re meaning “hey the Host Kid is looking at websites with the letters  s – e -x in the title”…..

Host Parents and Au Pairs are aligned in a main childcare goal– keeping the children safe. “Safe”, of course, has a lot of different meanings…usually we think about physical things, like car seats, bike use, and the like.   The Au Pair whose email is below has a different kind of safety on her mind– psychological safety.

6660068363_2a2d10d450_mHer Host Kid has stumbled upon websites that most parents would find inappropriate for a child in grade school.

What should the Au Pair do?

We’d like your suggestions on how to broach this topic with a host parent, especially in ways that will not accuse the child of any deliberately bad behavior.  

Au Pairs and Parents can be real partners not only in keeping kids safe but also in helping parents reinforce their values and shape kids behavior to support those values.

Dear AuPairMom – 

I have a dilemma! I have the sweetest two host children, boys aged 5 and 7.  I’m super close to both of them and they are wonderful.

The 7 year old kid really likes ‘minecraft’ – its this thing like pokemon that kids love but also some weird adults love too. The older host child watches game tutorials on youtube about minecraft — like how to get past levels — on the family ipad. He’s allowed to use it just 2 days a week.

The other day i went to use the iPad after he’d used it and I discovered that it was open on a YouTube video that said something along the lines of ‘XXX minecraft sexy!!!’ ‘SEX!! in school’.

My eyes popped and so I had a look at the browsing history. I found lots of other stuff that he searched on the internet like that, some of it fairly graphic and creepy!  There are obviously some weird game-obsessed creeps online who dont realise kids find this stuff.

Anyway, after looking I saw that my host child had only stumbled upon this stuff in the past week or so, having re-searching that kind of thing around 3 times. It started when he was looking at tutorials and from the ‘suggestions’ on youtube one of them must have caught his eye.. so curiosity for the word ‘sex’ must have got the better of him.

When he uses the ipad he is  always with me/ around the parents, and as he’s on youtube and playing games I thought i was ok. I don’t leave him alone with it or let him take it to his room. I don’t think the parents know.

What do I do?

It’s a super awkward situation! He’s obviously just curious – all kids are, but I guess when we were that young we never had computers so didn’t have to deal with all that until 13 or so when you’re better at coping with that stuff.

This kid is so sweet and young, if I tell his parents I KNOW his dad will go the complete wrong way about it and completely bollock him. The child might end up having more curiosity and looking more on google which will give much more graphic results.

But on the other hand – it’s not really my place. At the end of the day he is not my child.

I want to approach this in the right way without accusing the child of anything. He’s obviously a normal kid but with access to the horrible vastness and darkness of world wide web! 

The child seems so young to me to have to deal with this situation. I don’t remember being that young and even being aware of sex. I also worry about what the 5 year old may see it/talk about it with his brother too.

Any suggestions of how I should go about this?

Image: from Lexie Flickinger on Flickr


massaupairmom December 16, 2015 at 4:07 pm

Assuming you’re sure it’s the child’s browsing history (and not one of the parent’s), I don’t see anything particularly awkward about this scenario. The child is 7. No gray area there – no parent would want him looking at porn. I would expect a direct approach from my au pair – “I noticed Joey stumbled upon some inappropriate content on youtube. I haven’t said anything to him about it because I thought you might prefer to talk to him first. I’ve been taking special care to watch him more closely when he’s using the ipad since then. Please let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to do differently.” No need to relay the fact that he has searched repeatedly – the parents will no doubt figure that out on their own now that you’ve tipped them off and deal with it.

AlwaysHopeful HM December 16, 2015 at 4:44 pm

I am very interested in what others have to say because I had this exact issue come up (as a HP). In my case, our AP mentioned to me his concern that my child viewed some inappropriate youtube videos. I spoke to my son and explained that it is sometimes easy to make a mistake and visit a page that is not for kids. It might be scary or confusing or unsafe. I told hIm that if that were to happen, he should leave the page and let AP or me know right away so that we are able to help keep him safe. AP also told him that he is able to view every page my son visits so we’ll know what he’s seen. Maybe you could tell him something along those lines? I definitely would want my au pair to tell me. I think if you feel it might be a problem to tell this to the parents, there may he a larger issue there. When my au pair told me, he said pretty much what you said — he was concened, he thought the visits to the sites were unintentional, and that he was surprised because of how innocent kids are at that age. I was glad he told me; it created an opportunity for a teachable moment.

Now, if anyone knows how to add meaningful parental controls on an iPad, please let me know!

hOstCDmom December 16, 2015 at 7:27 pm

Add the controls at the router; then no device on network can join. If you don’t have the know how, IT professionals can easily implement for you.

hOstCDmom December 16, 2015 at 7:28 pm

Mistyped- didn’t mean to say “join”, rather meant then no device on network can access certain sites/the blocked content.

Boy Au Pair Spain December 16, 2015 at 8:21 pm

Seems a little unfair on the adults of the house using the router!

hOstCDmom December 16, 2015 at 9:00 pm

Nope- my wifi, my rules. No porn via my wifi. No illegal downloads via my wifi. Free wifi isn’t a right; it’s a privilege. And in my house it comes with some restrictions. AP can get own data plan/hot spot etc at his/her own cost. And gave unrestricted Internet. Or go to Starbucks or the library. But my network has restrictions.

Boy Au Pair Spain December 16, 2015 at 9:29 pm

I find it difficult to think of anything that the family gives the au pair that couldnt be described as a privledge rather than a right. You have the power to take away pretty much anything from the au pair. I think this should lead to more of a discussion about what is fair and fair treatment rather than less.

What the boy looked at was not porn. It was something that had the word sex in it on a site that filters out adult content. We arent talking about not letting your au pair watch porn you are talking about not letting them view anything that isnt appropriate for a small child. In persuing that aim the filter would block a heap of other stuff too. Surely there a better ways to safeguard a childs internet use that does not restrict what the au pair wants to do.

hOstCDmom December 16, 2015 at 10:11 pm

I am not saying that my filters would actually block what this child looked at. Nor would they block anything related to sex in general. But rather that as HP, I can determine what I consider suitable to be done on *my wifi* — NOT that I determine what is suitable for an adult AP to do ever, anywhere. Rather that the wifi in my house comes with certain parameters. In fact, porn isn’t my major concern — in my house it is unauthorized download or unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content. An AP can certainly access content they wish, via their own wifi, public wifi etc. and I wouldn’t restrain that (unless in the rare instance it constituted a crime in which case I would take appropriate legal steps and rematch). However, I will restrain certain conduct or content via a conduit I provide and over which I have control and liability. This is akin to a HF saying no alcohol or pot or drugs in their house (even if legal in their jurisdiction), or no romantic sleepovers, or no overnight guests, no smoking in the home, no smoking by AP etc. We as HF have certain tolerance levels for certain things, or not, in our homes, cars, and via our services (cable, phone service, internet etc.). I *absolutely* believe that HF should disclose such parameters explicitly up front. But I don’t think this is unfair treatment, it is a simply limitation on “X”. Take it or leave it.

Boy Au Pair Spain December 17, 2015 at 5:00 am

hOstCDmom – I thought you meant the type of filter that would deal with the issue of watching videos with the word sex in the title on youtube.

I think you’re right in that the key is that it should be to be upfront. I personally would hesitate to match with a family that felt they needed to censor what an au pair views in their free time.

hOstCDmom December 17, 2015 at 7:29 am

The key is it *isn’t* censoring what the AP views — it *is* censoring what is transmitted over and on my network. That is a big difference. It is neutral vis-à-vis the user; it is a restriction applied to the network. AP is free (within the confines of the law) to view what s/he wishes during her/his off time and/or via her/his own network/public network.

Boy Au Pair Spain December 17, 2015 at 9:47 am

I guess we think of the router differently. To me it is to facilitate private communication between one individual and another. In the same way as a telephone line. I don’t see how it effects the person whose router it is what is passed through it, unless it is illegal. With that in mind, it would confuse me why the parents would feel a need to control that. For example, I cant imagine having a friend stay with me and trying to justify a filter on the internet to prevent him accessing +18 sites. I can’t understand it at all. Because a parent would want to control, somewhat irrationally I’d feel, what passes through their router I’d also worry about what else they felt they needed to be in control of.

Meg December 17, 2015 at 4:43 pm

I also found this interesting. I did a quick search. About a quarter of US homes have no internet. And, EU countries are similar. Though Germany is much lower… about 12%. My guess is that most HF provide internet access. But, all that was suggested was blocking a few sites, mostly illegal ones. Doesn’t seem that crazy to me. And, in no way would this hinder communication. She certainly doesn’t seem to be suggesting blocking any site one would use to talk to friends and family.

Rural host mom December 16, 2015 at 10:18 pm

Au pairs sign up to work for families with young kids, and to be part of said families. There are a lot of implications of “family life” beyond dinners, movies and vacations. We’re upfront that she can share in our routines as they are, or she can go out on her free time to do more young adult things. I don’t see how this is unfair.

HRHM December 17, 2015 at 2:19 am

There ARE things that the family provides that are absolutely rights:
private room with locking door
three meals a day
51 weeks of pay at the required amount
transportation to meetings and school
tuition up to 500 per year
car insurance for work driving if needed
2 weeks paid vacation
one weekend a month and 1.5 days a week free

but there is a long list of things that are indeed not required and ARE privileges:
a car
a cell phone
internet access
dinners out

that list goes on and on. And with internet access, cell use, car use – I’m footing the bill and my word rules. Any rules or restrictions you don’t agree with, you may pay for your own car, cell or wifi… FWIW, I can’t surf porn at work either – most Americans would be fired for doing so.

Boy Au Pair Spain December 17, 2015 at 5:15 am

I wasn’t talking about a right to view point. I was talking about a right to view things on the internet that are not intended for a 7 year old audience. I think this is more on par with the ‘privilege’ of being able to use the shower to wash yourself rather than using a bowl of water or having your own set of keys. Whether you call them rights and privileges is not the point – a functioning internet is something that is needed for every day living. Anyway though, hOstCDmom didn’t mean this sort of filter.

Yeah I am not surprised that would get fired for looking at porn at work in the USA. I can imagine disciplinary hearing now “Although you are one of the most talented employees we have ever had and made x amount for the company however I am afraid this discovery that you are a pervert makes you unfit to work here. Do you have anything to say in your defense before we dismiss you?”. In the UK they would generally have a pornography filter an office but of course the house is different being that it is also the au pair’s home.

Ultimately though if the family want to assert the moral that viewing porn is wrong and shouldn’t be done under their roof then that’s acceptable. I don’t think blocking every content that isn’t appropriate for a 7 year old is.

NewAPMom December 17, 2015 at 9:23 am

“a functioning internet is something that is needed for every day living”
This made me laugh! What did you think we did before the internet? How did we survive? Internet is not needed for every day living–we all lived without it 20+ years ago.

Boy Au Pair Spain December 17, 2015 at 10:06 am

Haha well many au pairs weren’t even alive 20+ years ago! To me maybe it isn’t quite as necessary as electricity but I’d put it on the same level as hot water. To be without internet is really slumming it.

German Au-Pair December 17, 2015 at 1:35 pm

Actually, and I realize this may sound INSANE to Americans, in Germany, which is infamous for the welfare system it provides, using the internet and TV IS counted as a right (I think because of the information it provides and how it’s required for educational purposes in schools most of the time) so when you don’t or can’t work and live off government welfare you ARE provided a TV and as far as I know also a PC.

I do think there’s a bit of miscommunication here between Boy Au Pair Spain and you guys here though. From what I understand you are talking about restricting the use of your complete, housewide internet access so it doesn’t allow porn or illegal streaming of movies etc. What HE is talking about is restricting the housewide internet to things that are inappropriate for children. That would include anything not rated PG-13 or evenPG, right? So no videos that have the word sex in the title (that would include songs on youtube that have the word sex or sexy in it) and no violence whatsoever. No erotic, or semi-erotic movies (I’m not talking about porn, I’m talking about 50 Sahdes and the like) THAT, I think we can all agree on would be very restrictive towards the adults in the house, right?

Returning HM December 17, 2015 at 1:41 pm

This discussion is cracking me up. I love the benefits of wifi at home, but in my apartment, where I stay two nights/week while at work, I don’t have wifi, and I don’t miss it at all.

Of course, I’m 47 and lived more of my life without a cellphone, email, or a computer than I have lived with them, so I guess I am really old fashioned!

German Au-Pair December 17, 2015 at 2:31 pm

Okay one aspect that we HAVE to mention regarding being totally dependent on the internet is that in teh case of APs it’s the only way to keep in touch with ALL your family in friends…(not that I would be any less dependent on it now :D )

New to This December 17, 2015 at 2:37 pm

I think the lesson I’m taking away from this exchange is that cultural and generational differences can create widely varying expectations regarding what specific features fall under the AP’s entitlement to a place to live. We had a thread recently where most people seemed to agree that it’s fair for an AP to expect the opportunity to take regular hot showers — even though once upon a time, someone insisting that life without indoor plumbing was unacceptable certainly could have been considered a spoiled brat… Ultimately, anything not spelled out in state department or agency regulations (or local tenant habitability laws, etc.) is presumably up for negotiation; the problem is where the negotiation hasn’t been explicit, and both sides are assuming that reasonable expectations will govern, but differing backgrounds turn out to mean that each person has differing expectations, both sets of which are reasonable to where the person is coming from. So US HPs can reasonably expect to exercise ultimate authority over what content is permitted over their home Internet connection, while European APs can reasonably expect a decent housing situation to include unrestricted Internet access. Everybody’s reasonable, nobody’s happy. Easy enough to say “Make sure to discuss it during matching,” but I have to think there are so many potential disjunctures of this type in people’s expectations that you can’t possibly anticipate them all…

Which leaves me with the question: If you’re the AP or the HP, and you’ve run up against this kind of clash in people’s senses of their own basic rights, is rematch inevitable? Or is it possible to hash out compromises wherein everyone yields some “rights,” without provoking enduring discomfort or resentment? I’m curious whether HMDC and BAPS, or others sharing their points of view here, could imagine yielding on those positions to save a match, and feeling genuinely okay about it…

WarmStateMomma December 17, 2015 at 2:54 pm

This discussion is really interesting to me. My husband and I will actually go out of our way to vacation in places that do NOT have internet access. While we rely heavily on the internet for our regular lives, we aren’t truly on vacation from work if we have internet access or cell service.

As a parent, I have the right to make safety/content choices for my kid even if it impacts others who choose to live with us. All the AP has to do to “justify” an internet filter to their friends is to say “they have little kids.” I don’t really care if the AP watches porn but I’m not going to change what I do for my kids’ internet filters to ensure porn access for the AP. I’m not obligated to provide opportunities to watch porn. If the internet service was down, I wouldn’t be paying for trips to the adult video store…. There are costs and benefits to living with a family that has kids. Living in a kid-centered environment is not for every adult.

Corporate employees don’t get fired for being perverts. They get fired for showing bad judgment in conducting private activities in the workplace.

Dorsi December 17, 2015 at 3:25 pm

We travel 1-2 times per year to my parents and expect the Au Pair to accompany us (it is part of her work time). They have very limited internet – satellite only, with such limited download speeds that they cannot Skype. I warn them about this in advance, but certainly don’t believe I am violating anyone’s rights. While most people have some form of internet access at work, that is by no means guaranteed. I cannot use my cell phone at work (under any circumstances – it does not function), and I have a friend who can’t even bring her phone in the building. She also is not allowed access to the internet.

We don’t have broadcast TV in our house. I don’t disclose this in matching (I would answer honestly if I was asked), but I don’t think that the APs know what that means or what exactly they will want when they get here. All tend to be happy with the legal streaming services we have available. I should really disclose that we don’t have white bread in our home – that is also something that is shocking to them, and often feels like a fundamental right has been breached. The Au Pairs can have all the broadcast TV and white bread they like; I am not going to pay for it.

No one is preventing the Au Pair from having full, unfettered access to the internet. They may simply be refusing to pay for it.

A right is something that someone can not infringe upon – it doesn’t mean that it is necessarily something that must be provided for you (health care is a whole other ball of worms). The internet is not free, even in Germany. I strongly believe in the right to freedom of press – but no one needs to pay for the paper I want to print my opinions on.

Boy Au Pair Spain December 17, 2015 at 4:37 pm

@GermanAuPair Thank you yes that is what I am saying.

I have never known anyone that has put a filter in their own home so I am struggling to imagine exactly what it is going to block. I find it hard to believe that it only catches porn and doesn’t limit the countless other things that adults should be free to do online but children shouldn’t. Maybe someone can share a link to the sort of filter that is common in peoples homes. To me there seems to be two type of filters being discussed here.

1) Something that blocks pornography websites. This seems a bit as much use as a chocolate fireguard in terms of keeping children safe without the age range being discussed (7 years old). A young child is not going to go searching for porn and blocking such things is much better achieved by a browser based solution such as limited your google account:

2) The type of restrictions I have seen in schools. This has a much wider ambit – any material that could potentially be unsuitable for young children: any violence or sexual content, information about drug use, bad language etc. I remember having so many problems using the internet in schools just to plan lessons because the amount of websites that are caught. I couldn’t imagine using the internet with such a filter in my leisure time.

I would have real problems with the second type of filter and would be put off matching with a family that had this. I suppose the solution would be to ask the family for some sort of password to by pass it – I am not sure if that works if it is set up in the router.

I guess I wouldn’t have a problem with the first as long as it wasn’t set up with the aim of limiting what the au pair looks at with some misguided notion of protecting the sanctity of the home network device. It is an understandable side effect that the au pair can’t view such things.

BestHMEver December 17, 2015 at 4:48 pm

Oy vey, Boy Au Pair Spain, I lurk on here all the time and have never commented…but I’ve gotta say, are you just here to police host families? Can you at least attempt to answer the question being asked in the original post?

As an ADULT in a household, sure, you’re allowed to have internet. As an adult, you should pay for it. If you’re lucky enough to get free internet, don’t expect it on your terms. You can’t have it both ways – either you’re an adult who deserves autonomy and you must pay for elements of that autonomy (like unrestricted internet), or you’re a dependent on the HF and don’t have to pay any bills at all, in which case you don’t get to have ultimate say in the type of services/goods/benefits you receive.

Now! As for the original question. I would want the AP to tell me, and perhaps to already have some solutions for preventing it from happening again. That will hopefully head drama off at the pass with the HD. But like someone above said, is there a deeper issue with the HD? That might be something else to examine.

NZ HM December 17, 2015 at 6:44 pm

As others have said clearly an age/ generational thing and it all comes down to expectations. Here, in NZ, private home generally don’t have broadband flatrates, i.e. usage is capped and our AP can’t deliberately stream, download and skype as they wish because it’s not possible – at some point there won’t be any internet allowance left. Just as us they need to limit their use and be aware of that. This is a big discussion point on NZ/OZ host parent forums when, esp. European, aupairs turn up and use the monthly internet allowance in the first few days of their arrival. There are also a lot of areas where is no broadband yet and cell phone coverage doesn’t exist. Is it a nuisance? Yes, also for the locals but it is also part of the cultural exchange and part of wanting to experience another country and its customs!
So I would disagree that having internet access is a right and that not having any is putting unbearable inconvenience on someone. It just differs from country to country and household to household. I also disagree that having internet at home is the only way for aupairs to keep in touch with family and friends. There are other options here, like using internet at the libraries, and calling cards you use with your phone or cellphone make phone calls extremely cheap. Even using the regular landline isn’t that expensive to call overseas anymore (it’s cheaper for me to call relatives in Germany using the landline than it is to call somone within NZ on their mobile).

Rural host mom December 17, 2015 at 9:15 pm

By all means, I hope an AP who expects free, unfettered access to anything in my home chooses another host family. We work hard for what we have (hence the need for an au pair), and we have the right to establish ground rules for our home. When you’re in our shoes, you’ll be able to call the shots.

Boy Au Pair Spain December 18, 2015 at 5:38 am

@Rural Mom – now sure how have you interpreted what I was saying was that an au pair should have unfettered access to everything (I assume you didnt really mean ‘anything’ as of course they do have unfettered access to somethings) and that parents cant set ground rules? Of course you have the right to do whatever you want in your own home that is not otherwise prohibited by law. What I am commenting on is whether it is unfair. Surely you recognise that some ways of treating an au pair are unfair to an au pair and/or could effect their happiness but you disagree that a filter is. Is that right?

Rural host mom December 18, 2015 at 8:44 am

Hosting and being an au pair is a cultural exchange. Between us, my husband and I have stayed with a dozen host families. We’re encountered countless surprises, and borderline-to-blatant “injustices”. Yet, we signed up for an intercultural experience at the time, so had a pretty open mind and we’re adaptable. You said you’d have a hard time matching with a family that had child-appropriate limits on internet because it infringes on the right you have. Any au pair candidate that doesn’t think our lifestyle suits their expectations shouldn’t match with us – the feeling is mutual.

Boy Au Pair Spain December 18, 2015 at 10:19 am

I don’t feel an au pair that is put off by such things means that they are not open minded or adaptable. In the end I might match with a family that had such filters but it would be a put off. Host mums here express very strong preferences when choosing an au pair, surely realise that we have our own preferences and expectations too? I would be surprised if a family wouldn’t match with an au pair for thinking that something in their family doesn’t fit so well with what they want – as you infer: no family is perfect (nor au pair).

Admittedly though, when applying for a family I am not going to let them know disadvantages I see in them. I think I have gained a lot of insight from this site by reading opinions of parents that I wouldn’t otherwise be privy to – I assume that the parents I work for or have worked for are not so dissimilar. So, similarly, I hope that hope that by me and other au pairs commenting on this blog parents get an insight into something they wouldn’t otherwise.

German Au-Pair December 18, 2015 at 12:12 pm

I agree with BAPS here. Having certain expectations do not mean you’re not adabtable. Some expectations may seem more reasonable than others and some au pairs (and I’m sure HP) are more insistent on certain things that other. As always, to me the key is balance.
Not having internet access because it’s not common in another country (I did not know that about NZ!!) or because you live in a rural area or because you are on vacation are very different from not being able to view any content that is not appropriate for children.
I joined my family on a one week vacation to a very remote area. I had to work on occasion (like take the kids out of the house some times) but not full time and I had no privacy for a week as I shared the room with my kids and their cousins. I didn’t mind one bit. There was only enough internet coverage that I could chat online for a bit to share my fun time with my friends at home but that was it. I also didn’t mind. Hot showers weren’t guaranteed either, but I also didn’t mind. All of those things would have been a problem if they had been true for the entire length of my stay and not just for one week.

Also, no one is saying you cannot restrict the wifi in your house. I probably would never figure out if there was a global restriction on porn in the house. But BAPS is right, if you have ever dealt with a filter in a childcare facility, you will notice, basically cannot open anything except disney channel…
Honestly, I don’t think that would actually be an issue as I am sure that parents couldn’t live with that restriction either…an online life where you can see nothing that’s not rated PG sounds impossible. For my college class in the US I had to research STDs…that would have been fun with sucha filter. I would bet that such filters restrict areas that require payment too, right? Goodbye itunes.

Now if the family tells you during matching “we don’t have an internet connection” or “we have a limited internet connection” that’s fine. I would not match with such a family and risk not skyping ym family and friends for a year or pay a lot of money to get it but maybe some au pairs would be fine with it.
(Also, the “just go pay for your wifi” argument is a bit…not thought trough very well. I would like to see the face of a HP when the au pair asked them to install a router in their house…)
It’s really not about not being able or willing to adapt but more about reasonable arrangements. Not HAVING unrestricted internet access due to personal choices or local issues is one thing. Not GIVING someone you want to be an adult in your house access beyond what’s appropriate for your child by choice is something totally different to me. The former I may or may not choose to deal with, the latter would not be a good match for me and the restricted internet access would NOT be the main problem.

hOstCDmom December 18, 2015 at 1:15 pm

Just a note- in the US getting one’s own wifi hotspot is easy. No router installation necessary. It is either a data plan on a cellphone that lets the cellphone become a hotspot; or a USB dongle for a PC; or a little plug in hub. Prices vary according to how much data one wants, but generally cost $10-$30/month.

Meg December 18, 2015 at 1:17 pm

I think it’s unclear what we’re actually talking about. At one point BAPS implies American’s are odd for the practice of firing people for watching porn when they are at work (and I kind of doubt that… I think that would get you in trouble with most employers most anywhere in the world). Then there is discussion of somehow rigging the entire Wi-Fi so it only allows G rated content for anyone on or off work. Huge range no? I don’t see a single HP suggesting the G rated only approach. And yes, I think if that was a family policy, it is something that should be discussed and it’s out of the ordinary. But, it seems like a non-issue to me and very far from what any HF on here has stated they do. For me, I don’t want my AP watching non-kid appropriate material when they are supposed to be taking care of my kid. Seems like a no brainer. And I couldn’t care less what AP watches on his or her own time provided they don’t make it my business in some way.

hOstCDmom December 18, 2015 at 1:41 pm

I agree Meg. Huge range.

I have been one of the most black and white about the fact that I can and will filter the entire network in my home, no apologies for that. And have said that an AP who doesn’t like it can get his/her own wifi. BUT I have also noted that what I filter for (other than some seriously hard core porn or child related porn, which I do not hear any AP, even BAPS, saying is a problem that HP would filter) is for illegal downloads or streaming of unlicensed content, use of unauthorized streaming sites, or torrent sites. Because these activities are against the law — although not against the mindset of many people, especially young people. And given that I work in a field that would be seriously negatively affected by my network, for which I am liable, non one my use my network such activity.

I do not filter to achieve G rated content (or even PG or PG-13 rated content.) I actually, philosophically re child rearing, don’t ascribe to the use of such filters for that content, and prefer to educate and avoid such content by analog means (no internet/tv or devices under 6 years, only supervised occasional use of internet/tv until pre-teen/teen, then from pre-teen onward only use of devices/PCs/phones in common, well trafficked areas of the house, and NEVER in bedrooms. And, no, these rules to not apply to my AP, who may use his/her devices and PC’s in his/her room :))

But at the end of the day, I completely accept this wouldn’t be for everyone, and many APs might not like it. And that is fine — we don’t match with each other. :)

German Au-Pair December 18, 2015 at 7:22 pm

Meg, you’re right, that’s exactly what I said before when I said there’s a misunderstanding. BAPS was asking about the filter that would block things not appropriate for a 7 y/o and how that would be fair to an au pair and then somehow the discussing about internet privilege started even though he was NOT refering to a porn-block filter (or the illegal download filter discussed on a different thread).
I actually don’t think there’s an actual issue being discussed, just a misunderstanding. I’m not even sure it’s possible to vet everything the way BAPS is thinking about globally (as in: for the whole household using the internet) but rather that in schools and work places this filter is applied on each pc seperately, but I’m also no IT expert in any way shape or form.

I wonder about the cell phone though…is a cell phone really a privilege? A smartphone sure is, but is a cellphone? To me that’s a difficult one I’m just wondering about now…what if the HP were not to provide a cellphone and the AP had to buy one? Could the AP reasonably be expected to be reachable on her phone for the HP (especially during work hours?) The adult reasoning would be “if she has bought one, it would be petty not to give the HP the number and not use it for work as well.” It would also be super bad for the relationship…but on the other hand, isn’t “you have to buy your own phone but we expect you to have it with you so we can reach you/to call us when something is wrong/to be able to call for help when outside/to text us when you are running late/to be reachable for other childcare providers” equally petty and bad for the relationship? (or the alternative of giving her a phone for work and expecting her to buy another one for herself, which, as I understand it, is also not practice in regular firms, right? If your boss expects you to be reachable for him, he provides you with a phone?)

My HP expected me to be reachable by email all the time during the day and therefore they HAD to provide me with a smart phone as I would not have bought one myself. (That’s not to say there was any discussion. They were more than generous and I even got to take it with me during my travel month so that WAS a privilege that I appreciated very much.) Had they said to me “We want to be able to reach you at all times during the day but you cannot have a phone” I would have been very put off. Not by having to buy a phone but by the attitude that is shown by that.

I’m not trying to start another discussion, but I’m just saying that in my mind, the whole dynamic between HP and AP is not as easy as “everything that’s in the state department’s rules is required, everything else is viewed to be a privilege”.

Meg December 19, 2015 at 5:50 pm

GAP in general US employers don’t provide cell phones. Yes, they expect to get a hold of you but they consider it your responsibility. BUT I provide AP with phone, plan and what I consider a lot of data. I think that an AP is a different kind of employee and we provide a lot of things that are generally not provided by employers.

Old China Hand December 20, 2015 at 1:51 pm

How do you block illegal downloads on a router? I’d like to do it before our next ap comes. Thanks!

Mimi December 16, 2015 at 5:25 pm

It’s too bad that the HD may take this the wrong way, but I think it’s important to talk to your HP about this. It’s especially important if you know they have blocking software on the iPad, because something isn’t working correctly and your HP need to know this. Minecraft’s terms specify that it is 13 years +, and that makes it especially vulnerable to this kind of abuse. (I speak from experience!) YouTube has a safety block that could help with this and there are some family friendly channels for these videos that he could stick to, also.

If you can’t describe the situation exactly as you’ve written it, you could instead bring it up this way, “I noticed that when HK was looking at a Minecraft YouTube video that there were some suggestive videos in the margin. Do you have software to block something inappropriate he might click on so that he doesn’t find them by accident?” You should also clarify what your responsibility is when he is using electronic devices under your care.

AuPair Paris December 16, 2015 at 6:09 pm

I think most Host Parents would want to know about this. I also think if you are worried about the dad going crazy you are justified in not telling them. If you are comfortable having a discussion about this with your host kid, and you are sure that it would be more productive than the conversation with the HF, go for it (even if it’s a chilled out “hey, I saw you stumbled across some weird things the other day on the Ipad! If you have questions, consider asking safe adult x about this, because googling it will just confuse you more).

I mean, I, at my HM’s request (after a casual conversation where it came up) gave the HKs The Talk – with the aid of a book my HM had bought. They were all too embarrassed to broach the subject with each other, and I was both kind of neutral and safe, so it worked well. I honestly think that huge overreactions about this stuff can be really, really harmful to kids. But leaving the poor kid with questions and maybe even guilt over looking isn’t helpful either. So if you’re not confident in your ability to handle it, you really need to send him to someone who can…

Sidenote: When I was a very sheltered ten year old, I stumbled across a porn site – apparently the name of a children’s cartoon character was rather similar to a porn site name… Anyway, I ran to tell my parents immediately because I had this horrible “sex = wrong = illegal?! Did I break the LAW?!” reaction, and felt the need to defend myself. This was a direct result of my parents well-meaningly, but massively overhyping the issue, and making into a huge deal. Possibly a quick glance and then away is a healthier response to this stuff? Who even knows?

WarmStateMomma December 16, 2015 at 6:13 pm

I’m interested to hear what the other parents say. I think it’s important to tell at least one of the parents given how young the kids are. Maybe it’s enough to tell just the mother and make it sound like you think the child unintentionally visited the sites and that you want to know if she’s considered the blocking software? Totally agreed with Mimi that the kids should know you can see what they’ve visited. That’s a pretty strong deterrent.

I absolutely dread having to deal with this as my daughters get older but I appreciate having an AP looking out for them, just like the OP here.

AlwaysHopeful HM December 16, 2015 at 7:05 pm

Does anyone have a recommendation for blocking software? The pages my son viewed contained violence, not sex, but equally inappropriate for a young child and something he was unprepared for. I would love to be able to prevent him from stumbling onto such a site again, without disconnecting him altogether.

German Au-Pair December 16, 2015 at 8:16 pm

Just to clarify…minecraft is basically a game where you live in a lego world. Everything you see is brick and the pixels are HUGE. The “sexy minecraft” -and I just checked that because I have seen the game before and couldn’t imagine it being dirty. It’s giant lego figures that are flesh colored instead of whatever color they may usually have. The refered title “sex in school” probably refers to the name of some people who do the videos (that’s what I just found on youtube).
So the whole issue is much less dramatic. The kid isn’t looking at porn.
That’s not saying it shouldn’t be discussed, but I’d actually be more worried about any video suggestions in the side bars based on the title.
I would tell the HP they might want to talk to the child about not clicking on such content because it may lead to unsafe areas. But if minecraft sexy sexy stuff is the only stuff he viewed so far, I wouldn’t be too concerned about that aspect.
Something to consider: the people who do those videos aren’t just old creeps, but they do use language that may not be appropriate for children, even in regular videos. So I would make sure to keep an eye on that, too.

How to avoid children seeing some things:
I don’t think there’s a way to block similar videos. When you are not logged in to a youtube account, you cannot watch content that has been flagged as age inappropriate so one way to avoid the kids watching bad things would be to make sure you’re not logged in with your own account. But I highly doubt flesh colored lego figures would ever be flagged so even then theys would be accessible.
Get an add blocker for your browser (there’s an add on that’s called “add blocker plus”). That will block almost all online adds, inlcuding little banners you see on social media sides and, more importantly, adult pop up windows. If your apple browser doesn’t have this ad blocker, get chrome or firefox for the kids to use and install the add blocker there (having a different browser for the kid also makes sure you’re not accidentally logged in anywhere).

Boy Au Pair Spain December 16, 2015 at 8:41 pm

In the absence anything to suggest he purposely searching for content with sexual themes, I don’t think I would mention it. Especially if the parents are prone to overreacting. As German Au-Pair says, the kid watched a video of two lego figures moving up and down on each other. I doubt it stuck in the kids mind at all and it is difficult to imagine any impact on his psychosexual development as a result. I imagine he clicked on it completely innocently and seriously doubt it was the word sex that attracted him to click. It is far more likely to cause issues if you remind him of the video and then follow up by asking questions that suggest such videos are unsafe (a child concept of ‘unsafe’ just wouldn’t compute with watching a video) or something that raises questions that they shouldn’t search in google but instead of a conversation about. Bringing it up with him as a serious issue would be quite confusing as he likely wouldn’t even remember seeing it.

BestHMEver December 17, 2015 at 4:58 pm

I apologize for my earlier comment; I didn’t see this response.

I disagree, however. Clearly the AP already thinks there’s an issue. She’s concerned about what the child found. Better safe than sorry in this situation. Especially considering that if the HP find out and ask her about it, she’ll either have to lie or admit that she didn’t speak up in spite of knowing about it. There’s no good outcome to keeping it from them.

Frankly, if an AP DIDN’T address a 7-year-old going down a risky path on the internet, I would have serious concerns about that AP’s judgement. No, the kid’s not watching porn, but he’s a few clicks away from something inappropriate for him to view, and as a parent, I would want to know about it and be able to have an open conversation about internet safety with him. Once a child sees something disturbing, they can’t un-see it.

Meg December 16, 2015 at 11:32 pm

Op says HD is likely to overreact. How about HM? Could you try to find a time to just talk to her? Maybe also at a time when you know there will be a chance to process it before she can talk to HK.

Jennc December 17, 2015 at 7:39 am

Well a responsible aupair would immediate Téll parents, and responsible parents would Block or remove internet access . We did This to prevenir our order son from stumbling on same thing. We told him We would allow him to look At you tube or searches only in presence of adult makes It simple, and The Kids Will get over not having The access . Its too important not to do something . Jen

Another DC HM December 17, 2015 at 10:43 am

On the parental controls, you can set exactly what websites the user (and you can have more than one user) can access.

I think the key here might be to find a suitable minecraft website that has the information the kid might like, but not to allow him on youtube on his own. Commnonsense Media has a list:

Pick the channels you like for him and block the rest.

OpinionatedHM December 17, 2015 at 12:15 pm

The, “i saw there were suggestive videos in the margin” suggestion is probably the correct tone to take here. I think the concern is that this may have happened accidentally and you want to alert the parents so they can possibly avoid it happening in the future. I hope you get a positive response from your HP’s. Even if you don’t, you are doing the right thing by mentioning a concern. The HP’s may not think its a big deal and that is their decision as the parents. Your responsibility as the caregiver is to keep them informed about your concerns so they can decide how to handle the situation.

Personally, I had no idea the suggested videos could be so off base from the original search until my DD stumbled across some scary “real life dead mermaid” videos while looking at little mermaid videos on youtube. We switched to the youtube kids app after that because I felt the available filters didn’t go far enough on the regular app. We also had the, “if it makes you uncomfortable then its not right for you” talk (which applies to so many aspects of life!).

eastcoastmom December 17, 2015 at 1:42 pm

There are ways to restrict the iPad to certain apps so the kids can’t get to a browser. We have Apple TV and our kids only watch MC videos on that, so we can see what they see. There’s an app called Family Protector that monitors or restricts usage for $5/month.

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