That’s the average age of a person’s first exposure to pornography. (In fact, some researchers are suggesting that age to be as young as 9.)
For many it’s accidental – a misspelled URL, innocently inappropriate search term or a click on a banner ad. For some, it’s a friend at school or someone on the train. Because of the ease of accessibility it is almost impossible to predict or even prevent a child having an initial encounter with pornography. And so conversations to prepare them are important to have …early and repeatedly.
Pornography is widely considered to be the number one sexual educator of our young people because children are engaging with porn before attending official “Sex Ed” classes and even before their personal curiosity has been aroused. Before their first kiss or their first crush they are being exposed to graphic sexual images and a type of sexuality that is so distorted as to bear little resemblance to healthy sexual intimacy (read 5 lies porn tells).
So, what should we tell our kids?
At its most simply defined, pornography is videos or pictures of things that are intended to be private. The same understanding your children have of sexuality, reproduction and intimacy is the language you would use to help them know what the images or movies would be likely to depict. We teach our children about nudity, appropriate touching, understanding privacy and honouring ourselves and one another – these are the same principles we might use to speak of the inappropriate nature of pornography.
Attempt to speak without embarrassment or awkwardness.
Remember : language is power. Read blogs, books or articles by parenting, cyber safety or family experts to help develop your vocabulary and increase your confidence.
Ask lots of questions to check their understanding and to ensure they’re confident with what they’ve heard. Curiosity only exists in a void.
Express and demonstrate an openness to responding to further questions as your child might have them. (Which they will! Particularly as they grow in their own awareness and understanding they’ll want or need to know more as it relates to their growing knowledge and experience. Establishing yourself as someone who knows about this topic will increase the likelihood that they’ll come to you with further queries.)
Remember it’s not “the” talk but a continuing conversation. Don’t try and download everything you know or want them to know in one dump.
Fight for your kids. Let the strength of your desire to see your kids protected from the insidious and addictive influence of pornography and its consequences fuel you to push past any fear or embarrassment to do and say what is required to set your child up to win.