It’s addictive. It ruins relationships and families. Some are calling it the “new drug,” yet you don’t need a drug dealer to get it because it can be accessed with just one click and appear in a matter of milliseconds. What’s worse is that you don’t even need to look for it, because it finds you in pop ups and subtle images on phones and computers. Yes, we’re talking about pornography, and according to recent research, it is being accessed by children under the age of 10 years old. So how do you go about talking to your kids about pornography?
In fact, according to the British Journal of School Nursing, children under 10 now account for 22 percent of online porn consumption for persons under the age of 18.
Pornography is everywhere, and as much as parents want to run and hide from it, the fact of the matter is, it’s not going away anytime soon. Sure, you can put parental controls to keep it from flowing openly into your home, but what about when you’re not watching, or when your child leaves your home?
As uncomfortable as it can be to talk to your children about pornography, communication is your best defense against it. Here are some helpful tips on talking to your kids about pornography.
If 10-years-old is a time when many kids are exposed to it, start the conversation early. A simple conversation about what pornography is will do the job. Tell your child that there are sometimes pictures or videos that might come up with men or women with very little or no clothing on, and that it isn’t appropriate for him to watch, and he should turn it off and come talk to you if he sees it.
Don’t Overreact to Confession
Even with a talk early on, when your child hits puberty, he may still get curious, or friends might introduce him to internet porn sites. When this happens, because it just may, don’t freak out. Let your child express remorse, confusion or even curiosities. Acknowledge his feelings, while reinforcing the damage it can cause.
Talk About Respect
When talking about pornography, it is also a good time to talk about the respect for one’s self and others. Tell your child that looking at images is not respectful to that person because you’re turning that person into an object. Likewise, when looking at it, you are not respecting yourself because you are filling your mind with images that are difficult to forget.
Talk About Sex
Pornography is quickly turning people’s perception of sex into something violent. In fact, a study published by John Hopkins University found that the exposure of children to internet pornography is linked to harmful sexual behaviors. The study found that the average age of first perpetration of sexual violence is 15 -16 years old, and is directly associated with exposure to pornography.
Simply put, pornography is teaching children and teens a false understanding of what sex is. This makes it that much more important to discuss what sex is and what it isn’t — that it is something between two consenting individuals who love each other deeply.
Keep the Conversation Going
This is not a one and done thing. Have periodic and age appropriate talks about pornography and the negative effects of it. Ask them questions about what your child knows. Share your own experiences that you feel comfortable sharing — think, finding a stack of magazines at your uncle’s house.
Answer questions they have while reiterating the dangers and maintaining an open dialogue policy free from judgement and shame. Because, as we all know, shame is a catalyst for keeping things hidden, and you want your children to talk — and keep talking until they’re good and raised.
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