How To Talk To Your Child About Porn

I’m not an uptight person when it comes to discussing sex.

I’m happy to discuss pretty much anything with my friends, and when it comes to the kids I’ve talked about the facts of life from when they were preschoolers. All on an age-appropriate level, of course,  and when the topic came up, but I now have an almost 12 year old so some of our discussions are getting pretty explicit.

I’ve done The Period Talk with both DDs 1 and 2, and made sure they have appropriate reading material as follow-up on the subject. I’ve also had The Sex Talk with DD1 and am gearing up to do the same with DD2.  I’ve left it a bit later with my second DD as she’s a July baby, but as she’s now in Year 6, I’m pretty sure she’s going to know most of it already thanks to school. I just want to make sure she knows enough to separate the facts from the fiction, and that she can come to me to ask about anything.

So, I’ve established I’m a concerned parent when it comes to educating my children about some potentially delicate subjects. But have I talked to my children about porn? I have now, but up until this week I hadn’t. And I hadn’t even considered I needed to.

I vaguely knew it was a problem with teenagers, but none of my kids have unsupervised internet access at home and none of them have a smart phone-yet. The reason I decided that I should talk to DD1 about porn was due to this program that was shown on Channel 4 this week. You’ve probably heard about it; it’s been all over the media.

Porn On The Brain talks about the effect that easily accessible hard-core porn is having on children today. As you might expect, none of it’s positive. Our children are being permanently damaged by what they are seeing. And it’s not just girls, this time it seems that a lot of the damage is being done to boys.

If you have children, no matter what sex or age they are, you need to watch this program. I’m not going to lie to you; this is the parental equivalent of having a smear test. You are not going to enjoy it one little bit, but it needs to be done.

And once you’ve finished being horrified, then you need to get yourself together and come up with a plan to protect your children from the effects of seeing this stuff. Because they are going to see it, no matter what you say or do. They may not go looking for it, but someone will show it to them on their phone or it may pop up on their facebook page. They need to be prepared for what they are going to see.

Obviously if you have little preschoolers, or younger school-age children, then you don’t have to wade right in and use the ‘P’ word. But it’s recommended that you use the right words for the right body parts ( ie penis instead of willy) and be very matter of fact about sex, and sexual relationships when questions are asked.

But if you have tweens or early teens, especially if they have just started secondary school and have access to a smart phone, then you need to talk to them about porn.

It’s not an easy conversation to have. I know because I did just this with DD1 this week. We were in the car and I asked if she knew what porn was. She didn’t and when I explained that it was pictures or video of people having sex or doing sexual things to each other, she put her fingers in her ears and yelled,’Why are you telling me this stuff?’

She calmed down a bit when I explained that she needed to know that the stuff I was talking about wasn’t real. It was like those beauty adverts or pictures in magazines that are all airbrushed and fake. But the porn that is out there these days isn’t fake in a nice way; it’s nasty and horrid. And sex between two people who like each other isn’t like that at all. Porn is something to give people a thrill but she mustn’t think that she is going to have to do stuff like this when she gets older.

I feel like I’ve taken away part of her innocence, but the most important thing is that DD now knows she doesn’t have to watch this stuff if she is shown it, or finds it online. She knows that she can come to me or her father  and talk about anything she has seen if she wants to. And most importantly she knows it’s make-believe.

I feel unbelievably sad and angry that I’ve had to have this conversation with my daughter, but it’s better that she learns about it from me, isn’t it?

If your children are teenagers, they probably won’t need to be told about porn. Unfortunately, they probably already know. But it’s important that you talk to them about what they have seen anyhow, and make sure they know that it isn’t real.

Because the trouble is that children are seeing this stuff and are growing up thinking that this is how sex is supposed to be. Girls say they are angry and annoyed that this is what boys are expecting from them, but many of them are accepting it as something they have to do. And boys are finding that they need porn-like interaction with their partners in order to ‘perform’. But it’s never as intense as the thrill they get from what they’ve seen, so they move on, looking for someone who is able to give them what they think they need.  Their expectations of a fulfilling relationship are being damaged by the images that are so readily available online these days.

To me it’s ironic that women have been complaining about the damage that porn has been doing  for years, with very little result. But now it’s the boys who are being damaged, and a man has fronted a TV program showing how badly porn can affect them, and all hell breaks loose. Suddenly everyone is up in arms about something that has been going on for years.

In the end, I guess it doesn’t matter what it was that spotlighted this issue. The important thing is that something is done about it. But what? Parental controls, parental supervision, maybe even better general internet filters have all been suggested. Kids these days are smart, and if this stuff is out there, some of them are going to find it.

The best thing you can do is watch the program so you know what you are up against, be aware that the problem exists and TALK to your kids about this stuff.

Don’t bury your head in the sand. Porn is not going away.

Someone-looking-at-a-porn-007

 

10 comments on “How To Talk To Your Child About Porn

  1. I had an unexpected ‘what is porn’ question this week from my son who was innocently reading cards in a card shop and happened across one that had some joke around it. I gave him the bare facts (he’s 8) but its amazing that its so ingrained in our society that a city centre shop has such cards at kid eye level in the first place!

    • That is terrible! DD hadn’t actually heard the word before but when I explained what it was, she said she’d heard other people talking about it.

  2. You are right – it’s actually a difficult conversation to have. What a great mother you are. Your kids are so lucky!

  3. I have just watched this programme and as a mother of an 11 year old boy I was horrified. But it has made me realise that I cannot bury my head in the sand and must have the “p” talk. As a parent this makes me angry that I have to do this but I would rather do it than have him stumble across these awful unrealistic sexual images totally unprepared. The things we have to do as responsible parents!! Deep breath and get on with it!

  4. It’s one of those things I keep meaning to talk to my boys about (ages 13 and 11), but just so creepy and never quite sure how to dive in with it. Thanks for the nudge. In fact, your blog may be the tool I need to do this. I can show it to them (they like current affairs and knowing the latest ‘news’) and then talk about it. Thank you.

  5. Well said, well thought, well written, well delivered. It’s our job to protect our kids and their innocence. To give them the tools they DESERVE to fight their daily fights. We can’t control the world around us, or even our own homes, but we sure can equip our kids so they aren’t shattered by these expectedly unexpected things in life (and the list sure goes on, doesn’t it?). It’s a talk I’m dreading, mine is only 2 yrs now, but some day it will happen and you are right, I’d rather he hear it from me than to stumble upon it by accident. SO important! Thank you!!!

    • Hopefully you’ve got many more years before you have to talk about such things with your child, but at least you sound like you are willing to discuss it with them.

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