Ask an expert: How do I talk to my child about watching online porn?

Ask an expert: How do I talk to my child about watching online porn?

Childline in Britain explains how parents can make sure their adolescent children realise porn often isn’t realistic and may be inappropriate for young teens.

I caught my 13-year-old son watching porn online and I’m concerned that watching it might give him the wrong idea about sex and relationships. But what’s the best way to talk to him about it – even the thought of it embarrasses me, and I’m sure he’ll be mortified if I bring up the subject.

Alex Gray, Childline  service manager, says: “As puberty kicks in, the behaviour of young people becomes more private. And if your child is usually reluctant to divulge information about their day at school for example, they’re even less likely to want to talk to you about sex and relationships.

“But children look to their parents or carers for help, so it’s up to you to talk to them when you feel they might need a nudge in the right direction, or some advice. Talking about porn is something you’re both going to find challenging, so be honest and acknowledge that. And reassure your son it’s ok to feel curious about sex and that he can always talk to you about it.

(iStock/PA)
(iStock/PA)

“It’s also worth remembering that some young people stumble across porn online by accident or have been pressured into watching it by their friends. Explain to your child that while some people watch porn online, not everyone does and it’s not something they have to do. Let them know it’s fine not to want to watch or do something that makes them feel uncomfortable and they should never be pressured or forced into anything.

“You should also explain why you think online porn may be inappropriate for them. Use reference points from news stories or TV shows to frame the discussion.

“One of the most important points to raise with your son is sex shown in online porn is often different to how people have sex in real life. People are acting and putting on a performance so things are exaggerated and the lines between consent, pleasure and violence are often blurred.

“It’s important for young people to know the difference. Talking about healthy relationships can be a way of pointing out the differences between how actors and actresses in porn interact and how we do in our day-to-day lives. Ask him what he think makes a good relationship. You can use prompts by discussing respect, personal boundaries and consent.

“If you feel there are some things about sex and relationships your child would feel uncomfortable talking to you about, there are safe places online where they can get information, like the NSPCC’s Childline  website (childline.org.uk).”

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