Research shows the average age a child is first exposed to Pornography is just 11yrs. exposure at some point is inevitable, so what can parents do about it?
Whether exposure was deliberate or accidental, kids will feel a mixture of confusion and curiosity – ‘What am I looking at? should I tell Mum and Dad? maybe I’ll get in trouble’.
If kids feel even the slightest chance of the iPad being taken away they’re unlikely to approach their parents for an explanation on something they’ve seen that confuses them. Depending on previous conversations you’ve had with them, their understanding of sex and pornography will be limited, but instinctually they’ll know they shouldn’t be looking at it. How do parents proactively approach this conversation to ensure kids understand and make the right choices around pornography? Cyber Experts David & Katie Kobler from Protect our Kids have shared their insights on the issue itself and how parents can best begin this conversation with their kids.
'When a child is first exposed to the concept of sex via pornography, they are beginning their education and experience with a total misinterpretation of reality' David and Katie explain. 'The representations of sexuality, relationships and sex acts in pornography are fabricated to appeal to an adult audience. The expectation is that an adult should be able to separate the reality and fantasy to understand that what they’re watching is staged. An adult can also understand the basic concepts of relationships and sex and will have their own values towards these, such as gender equality and mutual respect. A child will not be able to understand that what they’re watching is not reality, and may develop their own misguided values on sex and relationships based on what they’re seeing in the videos, like that violent sexual acts are ok. The issue of your child educating themselves about sex via pornography is that they have no opportunity to develop the healthy and safe values you wish to impart on them'.
‘Making your children feel comfortable talking to you about these topics is vital’ David says. The Kobler’s recommend opening the lines of communication first and on a regular basis – ‘Explain what sex and pornography are before they’re given a chance to see it themselves’ says Katie. 'This doesn’t have to be a modern-day version of ‘The Talk’ which often leaves kids feeling embarrassed and awkward. Short/sharp conversations around sex designed to educate will, over time, help your kids build a healthy understanding of sexuality, relationships and pornography'. By explaining these concepts on an ad-hoc basis, you will put them on the path to understanding, rather than confusion upon seeing pornography for the first time. The videos or images will still confuse them as there is no way to prepare them for what the world of pornography contains, but if you’ve made them feel comfortable coming to you about it then you’re given the opportunity to set them straight.
It can be difficult to delay or halt their exposure until you’re ready to talk to them about it but parental controls will help. Installing Family Zone on your kid’s devices will significantly reduce the risk of early involuntary exposure to pornography and other inappropriate content. We know it's difficult to navigate this journey but the good news is that you're not in it alone - our team of Cyber Experts, including Protect our Kids are here to help.