Talking Points: Online Pornography
The reality of life today is that, whether accidentally or on purpose, your child will come across pornography on the internet. We offer some talking points and tips to help start the conversation with your child.
For parents of young children
You may find that you need to talk to your child if your child accidentally comes across inappropriate pornographic content. Explain to your child that there are some things that are for adults only and that if they ever see anything on the internet that bothers them, they should come and tell you. Be direct and tell them that if they ever see pictures of a naked person, they should come and tell you.
Talk to your child about how to react if they encounter porn or any online content they are not comfortable with.
Good strategies are: turning off the screen, closing the laptop lid or turning over the tablet or phone.
Talking points for parents of teens
For parents, it is a good idea to have a more proactive approach to online pornography. Here are some question prompts to help start the conversation:
1. Have any of your friends come across online pornography?
Online pornography can be a very sensitive topic to bring up with teens. It may be helpful to make a connection over what friends have seen online.
2. What is a healthy intimate relationship?
The conversation you have with your teen has to be based on the notion that pornography is not real. It’s fantasy. Children and teens can have difficulty understanding this. Without your intervention, there is a chance that porn can become their template for physical intimacy. They can also see it as a blueprint for relationships in general. Talk to them about what physical intimacy is in the context of a loving and respectful relationship so that they understand that what is represented on porn sites is not a reflection of real-life relationships.
3. Why is consent important in relationships?
Your chat about porn is a good opportunity to talk about consent. Porn gives very misleading messages on the need for consent in intimate relationships. Your child can end up confused or misinformed about the importance of this issue.
4. How do you think the actors involved feel after making the content?
Discuss empathy with your child and how it may feel for the actors involved. It is important that your child understands how the actors are portrayed in online pornography and that these are not reflective of real life gender roles. The ability to critically evaluate things we see online is becoming more important for young people, reinforce this when talking to your child about pornography.