How to talk to kids about porn

Tech Talk Tuesday #79: How to talk to kids about porn

Who ever thought that we would be living in a world where porn would just pop up unannounced on our screens? I was disappointed recently to see all sorts of sexual content pop up at the end of a YouTube trailer for Embrace, a serious documentary about body image issues.

And it is not just sexual content, not just soft core porn, but hard core porn that is a click away. That means porn is just a click away for so many of our kids. Net blockers can be helpful, but they have their limitations. For example, kids can be on screens at their friend’s or relative’s homes. I strongly believe that we as parents need is to start talking about inappropriate media sooner rather than later. But what do you say and at what age?

Everyone will do things differently, but for this post, I am focusing on having a conversation about the paid sex industry. (I will address the impact of youth viewing of porn at a later date).

For younger children, it is important to explain that sometimes people online might not have clothes on and might be touching others and that you want them to come and talk to you if they see such things.  Tell them that if they see images that make them feel uncomfortable to trust that feeling and let you know. We want to get kids to realize how important it is to “listen to their gut.”

When kids get older, it is important to talk about the realities of the sex industry. It is a fact that humans are wired in a way that they can experience arousal and pleasurable feelings when watching sexy images and sexual acts but there are many reasons why this type of media is not good including:

  • These videos do not reflect real life.
  • There are people who are paid to perform sexual acts.
  • Studies show that 80% of porn has violence towards women.
  • Studies show that the majority of women who are in the sex industry have experienced some form of abuse growing up.

I want to leave with one more thought. It is key to express in our conversations with our children that it is normal to have sexual feelings and not to feel shame about such feelings. Shame is toxic. Shame is the idea that “I am bad, I am not worthy.” As humans, we are social; we are all about connection. When someone feels that they are faulty, not worthy—particularly kids—this can lead to damaging feelings and then to risky behaviors.  

For this week's TTT here are a few questions to get a conversation going around porn:

  • When you are on the internet playing a game or watching a YouTube video, have you ever seen naked people? If so, how does that make you feel?
  • When you see something that makes you feel uncomfortable, what do you do when you get that "uh-oh" feeling?
  • What do you (your kids) know about the paid sex industry?