Children are naturally curious about everything, including human sexuality. They are also very familiar with accessing information about virtually every topic via online resources. It doesn’t take much for children and teens to access pornography online. As a parent, it’s your job to make sure that your child isn’t exposed to harmful things and at the same time gains the confidence and knowledge to navigate the way toward adulthood. Protecting your kids from porn is a big part of that journey.
There are many studies that reveal how exposure to pornography in children and adolescents can foster a skewed view of sexuality, relationships and intimacy. Children are simply not mature enough to separate the sexual imagery in pornography with actual adult relationships. Make sure your child gains a healthy attitude toward sex by protecting them from pornography.
3 Steps Parents Can Take
So how can parents protect their children from porn? There are 3 steps that any parent can take to reduce access and minimize the impact of porn exposure.
Step 1. Establish rules on electronics
Parents should establish rules on the use of electronic media at home, which is easier said than done with today’s technological advancements. Some ideas include restricting the use of personal devices after a certain time in the evening, unplugging the router overnight, placing home computers in public spaces, and disabling data plans on smartphones.
Rules should be consistent and age appropriate, but keep in mind that when rules are too restrictive, children and teens will work harder to seek ways around them.
Step 2. Set up filters and access controls
Many parents are in denial about what kind of children look at porn—they think it is only children from broken homes or the neighborhood delinquents. The realistic answer is that every child will be exposed to pornography at some point—it’s prevalent and easy to access.
It may seem like the simple answer is to just block your child’s access to electronics and media, but children and teens have everything from iPods and MP3 players to computers. Chances are, children will be exposed to pornography, either accidentally or on purpose. It’s a good idea to learn about various free or purchased parental control and access regulation software and use them.
When these types of restricted access steps are in place, it makes it more difficult for children to stumble onto porn sites and gain access to sexually explicit material.
Step 3. Talk to your children about sex and pornography
Parents should never let the internet become their child’s teacher about sex, sexual identity and sexual relationships. However, too many parents, especially ones from strict religious backgrounds, are not comfortable even saying the word “sex,” much less discussing sexual dynamics with their children.
When parents are unwilling to talk frankly about sexual expression and healthy sexual relationships, children will seek out other sources to satisfy their curiosity. Good parenting means that it’s important to have conversations about sex and healthy vs. unhealthy sexual relationships over and over again using age-appropriate language. Parents must communicate to their children that pornography is an unrealistic version of sex and sexual relationships.
Protect and Educate
When it comes to minimizing harm from exposure to pornography, parents must use a combination of protection and education. The top goal of parents everywhere should be to help their children navigate the difficult path from childhood and adolescence to adulthood. Sexual education is a key part of developing a healthy attitude toward sex and not allowing pornography, with its artificial depictions of human relationships, to be the teacher and usurp the parent’s job of educating their children.