Every day in April, I’ll be posting a video about one of the questions in my guide, (Over) 100 Questions To Ask Your Kids About Sexuality. The guide is free and if you don’t have it, you can get it by clicking here.
Digital technology has created a reality where porn exists in abundance and access is easier than ever. Tweens are probably more likely to stumble upon porn by accident that to seek it out on purpose. Regardless, if your tweens are online you may want to give them a heads up that porn is out there.
Tech smarts, sex smarts. Many sources report that the average age of first exposure to internet porn is 11 years old. That may be an alarming statistic for many of us with kids; however, no one is quite sure where it originated. Even if we assume it’s true, it doesn’t tell us whether that allegedly early “exposure” to porn comes from trying to find it on purpose.Many a curious tween has been shocked by triple x-rated Google search results. Kids watch watching porn in early adolescence is concerning, but having questions about sex is very normal.
Navigating the Internet and curating online information, especially when it comes to sex, can be really tricky, especially for youth. When I was in early puberty, porn lived on the top shelves of the convenience store magazine shelves, the back room at the video place, and on scrambled TV channels. I literally couldn’t see it if I wasn't trying. Today phones, tablets, laptops and other internet-enabled rectangles make accidental exposure to porn is much easier for our kids. Even if your kid doesn’t have their own device - there’s a reasonable chance that they have friends, classmates or older siblings who do. The only real way to guarantee that tweens never sees porn would be to personally supervise all of their online interactions, something that's virtually impossible these days.
Porn isn't for kids...but knowledge is! If your tween has never heard of pornography, you might explain that they’re movies, pictures or stories about adults having sex. You can also emphasize that pornography is made for grown ups and it’s not for kids.
This can also be a good time to talk about some of your personal values around pornography. I’d actually like to share a few of mine right now. I’m not categorically anti-porn and I think there are positive ways for adults to enjoy it. That having been said, it isn’t something I want my kid watching. I hope they'll to wait until they've grown-up to decide whether or not it’s something they want to watch.
You can let your tween know that it’s normal to be curious about sex and sexuality... but pornography isn’t the same as real-life sex. Porn is like any other movie, fictional story or magazine shoot. They use actors and models, make-up, editing, even scripts and special effects! Everything is designed to catch an audience’s attention and show a fantasy version of sex. One of the reasons porn isn’t appropriate for kids is that it can give them a very distorted idea about what sex is like or should be like.
If you'd like more tips on how to talk to youth about porn, I have another video here.