To help keep kids safe online, every parent needs to warn and educate their kids about the dangers of pornography. If they don’t, kids are left to the predatory wolves of the porn industry who are looking to create an addicted customer for life.
Here are five of my best tips to get you started.
- Get comfortable with your topic. Educate yourself and leave shame behind. Pornography entices kids by activating a very normal and strong part of their brain—their sexual center. For a child to be curious about seeing naked people is totally normal. However, they aren’t able to foresee the damage down the road, and shame only makes pornography more addictive.
- Start early. As soon as your kids have any access at all to the Internet, you need to give them some simple warnings about “bad pictures.” They need to know you expect them to tell you of any exposure so you can help them stay safe.
- Keep talking. Don’t have ONE BIG TALK and then never say another word. This will overwhelm the child and may lead them to go to other sources for clarification. Make talking about pornography a natural part of discussing other negative influences and challenges they meet. This should be an on-going conversation which progressively gives your child more and more information as they grow up. A six year old may not be able to understand how pornography “objectifies” people or normalizes sexual harm or supports sex trafficking, but a 12-year-old can.
- Unmask the lies told by pornography about sex. Teach kids that the true purpose of sex is to bond two people who love and trust each other and are committed to their relationship. It should be loving, kind, respectful and honest. In other words, the same traits that you desire in any relationship! But pornography teaches just the opposite: Sex is for exploiting or taking advantage of another person for your own selfish pleasure; violence and rape are normalized and portrayed as enjoyable for women; and unprotected sex has no ill consequences like sexually transmitted infections, physical damage and emotional scarring. These lies about sex are hurting our kids’ future ability to develop a healthy sexual relationship in their future with someone they love and respect.
- Give your kids a specific plan to deal with pornography exposure. Help them know exactly and immediately what they must do when they see bad pictures. Teach them how to minimize the shocking memories of pornography that are hard to forget. Many children see porn and never say a word; in fact, in my opinion, NOT telling their parents is the norm. But these images keep dogging them and may entice kids to go looking for more. My new book, Good Pictures Bad Pictures, that I co-authored with Dr. Gail Poyner, has a simple to remember CAN DO plan that arms kids to reject and deal with pornography exposure. It’s probably the most powerful part of the book!
Start talking with your kids while they still see you as a credible source of information. Be proactive in shaping their attitudes about healthy sexual relationships and their counterfeits in the media and online.
Any amount of time you invest in this will bring you excellent returns in your child’s future happiness.
Do you feel comfortable talking to your kids about pornography? What has helped you overcome your hesitations? Please leave a comment!