If your child is over 8 years old, it’s likely he or she has viewed pornography,
A startling report from the London School of Economics found that 9 out of 10 children aged between 8 and 16 have viewed pornography. In most cases, those sites were initially accessed unintentionally.
Jason Winters is a therapist who provides sexual health services and an instructor at the University of British Columbia where he teaches a class on human sexuality.
He says facing the truth about children’s possible access to pornography may be difficult for parents.
” [It] leads to some uncomfortable conversations that perhaps parents would rather avoid. And also ways of thinking about their kids that they’ve probably avoided as well.”
While porn doesn’t appear to be having much of an impact on young adults’ intimate relationships, Winters says it can have an influence on what sort of sex they’re interested in or willing to try.
He says its crucial that children are educated about what porn is and isn’t so they understand what they’re seeing.
“It’s fantasy, it’s the stilling down of the most intense parts of a sexual encounter into a 30 minute clip or a series of photos. It doesn’t represent reality and kids simply need to know that.”
If kids are exposed to porn and haven’t been educated they’ll have a hard time understanding what they’re seeing, and may make some assumptions about what sex is and what sex isn’t.
The best thing a parent can do is have an objective and calculated conversation, and talk openly about it without showing any shame or embarrassment.
How to talk to your kids about pornography:
- Start by validating their experience by assuming they’ve seen porn – this also avoids them having to lie to you due to embarrassment.
- Launch straight into a discussion about what pornography is intended for fantasy, and for adults who are more sexually mature.
- Talk about what gets represented in porn so kids understand what they’re seeing; there’s a lot of garbage, and some less so. Also sexual diversity needs to be addressed, such as homo-erotic content, BDSM, fetish-play, etc.
Listen to the full interview with sex therapist Jason Winters here: