It's important your child knows that porn doesn't show real relationships - read on for tips of how to start the conversation
Children and young people can watch porn very easily via the internet either by accident through website popups and misleading links, or because they are actively looking.
Why do they watch porn?
It is normal for young people to be curious about sex and relationships. The internet gives them a way to access information and get answers to questions they may feel uncomfortable about asking you. We know that there are a number of other reasons young people may be accessing porn online such as:
- to learn about sex
- to look at the genitals if the opposite sex
- want to be sexually aroused
- for "a laugh"
- break the rules
- to be disgusted
- "freak out" their friends
What does my child need to know?
Studies have shown that when children and young people are exposed to sexually explicit material, they are at greater risk of developing:
- unrealistic attitudes about sex and consent
- more negative attitudes towards roles and identities in relationships
- more casual attitudes towards sex and sexual relationships
- an increase in 'risky' sexual behaviour
- unrealistic expectations of body image and performance.
As a parent, it is important to understand the risks associated with watching porn at a young age so that you can talk to your child about how to stay safe and what to do if they ever feel concerned or uncomfortable about something they've seen.
Explain that sex in porn is different to how people have sex in real life. People are acting 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 have sex or talk to each other and how we do in our day-to-day lives
It is important to understand that porn relationships are very different, often not realistic, compared to real relationships.
Talk to them about what makes a positive and healthy relationship. Ask them what they think makes a good relationship. You can prompt them by discussing respect, personal boundaries and consent. This conversation may vary depending on your child's age.
Sometimes children and young people feel pressured to watch porn. Explain to your child that whilst some people watch porn online, not everyone does and it's definitely not something they have to.
Let them know it's OK not to want to watch or do something that makes them feel uncomfortable and they should never be pressured or forced into anything. Explain why you think that online porn may be inappropriate for them.
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