Hey parents– imagine yourself talking to your kids about pornography.
How old are your kids?
If you’re like most parents, you probably pictured your kids as teens, maybe tweens, shifting uncomfortably in their seats as you talk about addiction, sexuality, respect, and exploitation. There’s only one problem with that plan.
It’s way too late.
By age fifteen, your teenager is more likely to have seen pornography than not. The average age of a kid seeing pornography for the first time? Twelve years old. Focus on the Family cites research claiming it’s now eight years old!
Parents, if you want to get to your kids first– and believe me, you do– you need to start the conversation about pornography with your kids far before the teen years.
If you cringe at the idea of discussing prostitution, sexual violence, and addiction with your kindergarten, you’re not alone. If you are ready for the birds and the bees, go for it! If not, you can still break it down for them in ways they can understand.
At five years old, kids are ready for a label, a definition, and an action plan:
“Pornography is pictures, videos, or words that describe or display private parts of people’s bodies like a woman’s breasts and vulva or a man’s penis. Reading or looking at pornography may make you feel good or excited or uncomfortable, or all of these things. Pornography is unhealthy for your brain, so if you see pornography, look away and tell Mom or Dad as soon as you can. If Mom and Dad aren’t there, tell a teacher or another grown-up.”
Your family media rules will also provide opportunities to talk to your kids about internet safety and the power of media.
Before you hand them an iPad:
“Hey bud, come out here while you play Minecraft. You should always have an adult with you while you’re online.”
Explaining media rules:
“Pictures, videos, and music can influence our thoughts and emotions, which shape our beliefs and attitudes. That’s why we only allow media in our home that fits with our family’s standards.”
Turning off an inappropriate movie:
“We’re not going to watch any more of this movie because it makes X (drinking alcohol, promiscuity, smoking, being unkind to family members, racial prejudice) look cool. X is really very uncool– it’s bad for Y (our bodies, our families, our minds, society, etc.) because Z (it’s addictive, it causes cancer, it makes people feel unloved, it weakens families, etc.). I know you know X is not ok, but if we watch media that makes X look cool, over time, our brains get tricked into thinking that X really isn’t so bad.”
Keep things basic and concrete– anything too abstract will only confuse a five year old. Above all, keep the conversation comfortable and open! As your child grows, he or she will be ready for more information, and you will have laid a foundation by starting early.
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