"My Kids don't know what Porn is" if I had a dollar for everyone of those parent's kids who openly spoke to me their opinions on whether Pornhub or Xvideos is better..
Ok so I could probably only buy a McValue meal from McDonalds, but still my point is the same. Kids these days are watching porn, and I'm not talking about stumbling across playboy mags from the 70s, I'm talking hardcore often violent porn movies. Its yucky, it's a problem and it's one those things that we as adults need to get a grip on, holding difficult conversations with kids. So here are my tried and tested 6 tips to get you started.
“The most important thing with having difficult convos with kids is letting kids lead the way with questions. They are the experts in terms of how curious they want to be questions. So relax, hold on and let them know you are open and ok to go there with them.”
1. That porn is something some adults watch some of the time because some adults find it fun.
The first thing that adults and parents need to be aware of when it comes to porn, is that your child was and is probably aroused by it, because humans are all sexual beings so arousal is natural and healthy (and yes we now have ultrasounds showing that babies masturbate in utero). But we run into a problem when kids are exposed to porn at a too young of an age, so we want to protect them from it. This well intended discouragement often comes across as shame and guilt to the child, like the child has done something bad. When I first start speaking with any child about porn that sentence above is quite literally how I start the conversation. It's succinct, it's using the correct language and it's neutral.
2. That porn is made by adults for adults so if kids see it, it might make them feel funny, and thats ok.
Back to that arousal thing. Older kids and teens will catch on pretty quickly that arousal is a great thing and whilst maybe being a little confused they generally feel pretty ok about it. But with younger children they will feel confused and sometimes frightened. But they also don't have the language to describe it. Often younger children will use the words of feeling funny to describe this experience. So thats why use this language as a starting point and then I work my around helping the child describe and understand the experience whilst normalising it. Any emotional response a child or young person has to porn is all healthy and normal, so it's always all ok. This point also reinforces that the child's reaction to the porn is ok and nothing to be ashamed about.
3. That porn is performance made by stunt actors for entertainment.
Now this is where age appropriative language and detail begins. For younger children, we leave details vague whilst explaining the situation calmly. If the child knows about James Bond I explain its like all those cool things he does with his car, its fun to watch but we don't drive down flights of stairs in our car.
For Teens I would go on to explain that Porn is special actors acting out sexual fantasies for adults to watch. That the actors just like real actors work to a script, they are sometimes specially trained and they all spend lots of time talking about what they are going to do for the cameras to make sure that everyone in the movie is ok, even if you dont see any communication in the porn movie.
4. That real sex often doesn't look like porn sex.
Continuing on with age appropriate chat, this is a point that we would leave for older children and teens, so basically year 7 and up. Even if you haven't had the sex chat with them yet, they know what sex is. Especially if they've not had any sex education yet, they now think that porn is what sex is, so we need address this.
The difference between what we see in porn and real sex is simple. Porn sex is a performance made to look good. Real sex is an experience made to feel good to both partners. They are two entirely different things. Real sex is about touch and play and fun, its about checking in with your partner and making sure they are having as much fun as you are. Porn is about a great looking performance, because some adults like to watch these types of movies.
5. How to say No to viewing porn with their friends or at school.
I hate to break it to you. By all means and absolutely in my opinion, as a parent you need to be monitoring screen time and have child protection filters on your internet, and you are going to hate hearing this, your child is still going to watch porn. It doesn't matter what we do to protect our kids from porn, we simply just aren't able to, because kids these days ready for it? Watch porn at school. Thats right this generation of kids are learning to recite times tables and watching hardcore pornography sometimes even in the same class. They watch it on their friends devices, they also watch from as early as 9 years old, and I've heard of (although very rarely) cases where its been 5 years old. So here we have a situation where we have to work with our kids to navigate their first introduction to peer pressure. With this point, and with any point ever dealing with peer pressure it's important that we stop telling our kids anything, but rather we help them brainstorm and come up with answers. So just help them come up with different ways to say no, change the subject or remove themselves from that situation.
6. Who are safe adults are that they can talk about porn with.
Moving straight on from peer pressure we have another uncomfortable truth. When it comes to peer pressure, kids just aren't experts at dealing with it. This is why, whatever the topic that Im speaking to kids about I will always end it with, who are the adults that you can safely go to with your feelings and questions. On the list I will always point out the parents, the school teacher, the school counsellor, then any cool aunties or uncles that can handle the topic. It is so important especially in this world where the internet is exposing our young people to more and more adults only material (I'm talking war, violence, horror not just porn and sex) that our kids know they can come chat to us.