Dear Uncle Google, how do I talk to my kid about pornography?

Chances are if your kid has hit middle school, they have some idea about what pornography is from simple word of mouth, if not having actually seen it themselves. With the unprecedented access, kids have to all that exists online, we are in uncharted territory as parents as how to help them navigate through what is appropriate. We are in a daunting predicament of how to help foster a natural sexual curiosity in a world where it is all too easy with a click of a mouse to enter into hard core pornographic displays of sexuality. We need to help our kids understand healthy sexual connection, love and intimacy in a culture addicted to pornography.

KIDS ARE CURIOUS

As our children grow into an age of curiosity and exploration where they are most likely to get introduced to pornography, it is important that we help them understand the potential downsides. As parents, this is most likely an uncomfortable topic to bridge but we need to get over our own discomfort in order to provide our teens with crucial guidance and information.

DO YOU HAVE PARENTAL CONTROLS SET?

Statistically, teens in America have access and are viewing pornography at an alarming rate. According to a survey in canada, 40 percent of teens between grades 4 and 11 have looked for porn online and many admit doing it frequently. Ideally, we as parents have parental controls in place to thwart our kids access to inappropriate material. However, we cannot control what happens outside of our own homes, making it all the more crucial we have careful and conscious conversations with our teens.

PORNOGRAPHY CAN BE CONFUSNG FOR KIDS

For young people to learn about sexuality form pornography presents many problems. First of all, it sets up a very unrealistic expectation of what are normal sexual experiences and human intimate exchanges. The pornographic standards for what is considered normal is a theatrical display by actors with ideal body types. It is more likely to offer more confusion and insecurity to a young adult who is trying to make sense of their own feelings and feel comfortable with their own bodies

PORN ISN’T REAL INTIMACY

We also need to relay that there is an enormous disconnect from intimacy, compassion and demonstration of love displayed in pornography. What kids may not understand if they view these anonymous sexual exchanges between random strangers, is that there is no room for a true understanding of intimacy, sensuality connection or romance, to say nothing of love. Ideally, first sexual experiences come from emotions, connections, and pheromones not from strangers being paid to have sex on camera.

OBJECTIFICATION CAN BE DANGEROUS

Helping both male and female teens be able to look objectively at how the porn industry treats women is essential. The blatant misogyny and degradation of women as faceless anonymous bodies to be used for the sexual pleasure of the male is an all too pervasive theme in pornography.  This objectification of women can be very dangerous to the fragile psyche and sexual development of a young person watching it whether they are male or female. Misogyny and disrespect for women is dehumanizing and ultimately degrades both genders

PORN DESENSITIZES AS IT BECOMES A HABIT

But what ultimately becomes a problem in people using pornography that is hard for young people to understand is the aspect of desensitization. There is a numbing out that happens in the same way as with any addicting habit that seeks more and more. In the case of pornography, what we need to help young people understand is that this becomes habit forming,and can be truly isolating. Ideally, we as parents must help our kids  deal with these difficult ethical, spiritual and social pitfalls as best we can. We need to give them boundaries while still maintaining the space to know, at the end of the day, a sexual curiosity is normal and healthy. Pornography is likely to be far more of a hindrance than a help in the pursuit of a healthy, happy and fulfilling sex life.

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