When I became a parent, I didn't think down the track I would need to be talking with my child about porn. However, I knew the stranger danger conversation at the age-appropriate time would be essential. The world my child, our children are growing up in has significantly changed and with the current situation our world is facing, time online for our kids has become more of a norm. What this means though is the potential for exposure to porn has also increased significantly. In our other blogs, we suggest simple ways to put in place digital protection, however, another layer of protection is an essential conversation about how you would like your child to respond if they see porn. Why? it's not if but when your child sees porn and ensuring they know how to respond when they do will support in reducing the potential harm. Also for them to know, that its ok to come to you no matter what happens, as exposure often happens without the child's consent.
Our kids can be exposed to porn via a number of different online platforms;
- On streaming platforms, some children’s content has been hijacked, like songs, cartoons or games.
- A peer or sibling may show them, or a complete stranger via messaging platforms
- Porn is advertised all over the internet as well, so they may accidentally open spam emails, messages, click on pop up ads on websites, social media, or online games
Like with anything the response from each child to exposure will be different, along with their personality and stage in development, therefore how you speak with each child needs to take into account a number of considerations. We suggest approaching the conversation with the following in mind, with the intention being that if and when they see porn, they know they can tell you about their experience around it:
Start with making a plan, gathering the facts and equipping yourself to feel confident as kids pick up more on how we feel as opposed to what we say sometimes. When considering what to say we offer the following guidance on things to consider;
- How old is your child? Using age-appropriate language that you know your child understands, helps them communicate easily. For example: 'If you see something that makes you feel uncomfortable in the tummy'
- Consider the environments they engage with devices in. Does your child have older siblings or hang out with older children often? If so the likelihood of exposure increases and ensuring they are clear that to tell you if someone shows them something that makes them feel funny in the tummy is very important.
- How aware is your child already of topics around sex and relationships? Porn is sometimes advertised on school buses these days, and all over the internet, including in games; we sometimes hear kids know a great deal more than what their parents thought they did.
- Your personal and family values?
Once you have considered these questions, gathered the facts and made a plan, we suggest a relaxed conversation. For some conversation starters or more tips- we have collated a list of resources for you to check out as well. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions.
Want to make sure you know how to respond when your child is exposed to porn? Go here.
Want to make sure the online environment is set up to support the protection of your child from porn? Go here.