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How Do I Talk to My Child About Internet Porn?

Text: Q&A

It's easy for children to find porn online, even accidentally. Many parents face this issue much sooner than they expect -- often before their kids even know what sex is.

If kids are using the internet on their own, it's a good idea to have an open conversation about porn. Talking about it won't make your children more interested in seeing it. In fact, having a conversation lets you frame the subject age appropriately. It's also helpful to differentiate porn, the medium, from sex, the natural biological process.

These tips can help you with the conversation:

  • What does your kid already know about porn? If they've seen it, ask how they came across it: Did they look for it, or did someone show them?

  • Let them know it's natural to be curious. Avoid saying something that may make them feel ashamed. If they did see porn, make sure they know they are not in trouble.

  • Give a clear, age-appropriate explanation of porn. For younger children, you can say that certain things on the internet are for adults only, and this includes some types of pictures and videos of naked people -- what's called pornography. With older kids, explain that pornography typically presents the extremes of human relationships and doesn't show real intimacy. Also mention that the people shown in porn are usually paid actors.

  • Be open and available. Make sure they know you're available to talk about any subject -- nothing's off the table.

  • Share age-appropriate resources. Provide age-appropriate books, websites, and movies to educate your children about sex, intimacy, puberty, and relationships.

  • Be clear about the rules. For teens especially, explain your family's policy on viewing internet porn. One thing to consider: Some porn sites can introduce harmful viruses onto your home computer.

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