Five ways to protect your children from internet porn

Five ways to protect your children from internet porn

The internet tends to be part of our lives more and more. We go to the net for all kinds of different reasons- for social contacts, information, shopping and financial management. And your children also probably have more and more reasons to be keen on using the Internet for all their schoolwork and social networking. Another long standing issue has been the fact  that the Internet has become  increasingly porn populated. This means that your children could be at risk of harmful exposure to pornographic material. Of course we can start a debate about whose job it is to protect your children from this: Is it the task of the internet providers, of the parents or of the schools? This is a bigger question that is another entire focus.  Instead I would like to focus this blog on the risks to children when exposed to pornography, things that you as a parent can do to stimulate healthy internet usage and how to limit the chances of unwanted exposure to age-inappropriate material. Why do children need protection from pornographic material? Porn can provide wrong expectations and role models for sex. It can isolate children and due to this it can build both social and performance anxiety. Research has revealed that young children who are exposed to pornographic images and movies can suffer from negative emotional responses, there is a risk of earlier onset of first intercourse, an increased risk of participating in dangerous sexual behaviour, there could be a change in marital values and a possible change of opinion about sexual roles and common sexual behaviour. These are serious possible consequences of this behaviour, but as parents you can’t be watching them all the time. And maybe at a certain age it would even be described as a healthy development to be aware of the sexual gender differences and to be curious about relationships and sexual behaviours. I have seen clients with concerns about this behaviour or questions about how to deal with this subject in our practice at Attuned Psychology. This is why I would like to share some common strategies that can be useful in regards to how to parent this subject and this type of behaviour in this blog. 5 things parents can do to stimulate their child’s healthy sexual development and behaviour:

  1. Ensure you have the right assumptions. As parents you might think that your children are still quite unaware of this subject and its implications, but you might want to realise that they already know a lot (by viewing parent’s behaviour, talking to peers/siblings, overhearing conversations of others).
  2. Always keep the conversation about sex going. Remember that you are the most important role model in your child’s life. I know this is not an easy subject to talk about as parents but the more secretive and awkward you are approaching the subject of sex, the more likely this subject will cause feelings of guilt and shame to your child and the more your child will be discovering it secretively. The best way is to sit down with your child, approach the subject seriously, provide age appropriate sexual education material (see below), be honest, allow your child to ask questions and address concerns if you have them. Try to discuss sexual values and expectations of real-life-sex.
  3. Don’t make sex the forbidden fruit. Children have the tendency to try things they are explicitly told not to do. When your child is a bit older (perhaps from about 13 years onwards) it would be worthwhile to ask them about their knowledge of porn and you might want to share your values on porn exposure and explain when and where you think it would be inappropriate.
  4. Filter or monitor behaviour. Use filters to monitor and guide your children on the internet. Age filters installed on all the devices that provide Internet access for your child(ren) can be helpful. Also putting computers in public spaces (like the living room) can help you to keep an eye on their browsing behaviour. If you have your doubts about your child’s internet use or the above advices are not an option for your situation you can always consider to install monitoring software on your computer(s) to be able to monitor the internet usage at home.
  5. Cover your traces. This might not have to be emphasised but children these days are quite inventive and savvy with computers. Make sure when you as adults ever watch porn on a device of which your child has also access to, not to leave any traces (like browsing history/images or cookies) on it.

Perhaps you have already tried to talk to your children or the outcomes haven’t matched your expectations. If this is the case please contact us to request a consultation about your possible concerns. In the practice we provide a safe environment and confidential setting to discuss this topic. This allows you and, if you’d like to, your child to talk openly, to ask questions, to address doubts and insecurities in a non-judgemental and professional environment. This atmosphere might contribute to reaching a compromise or solution if there is a problem. We can also provide parents materials and strategies to talk about sex/education/relationships. We also have a skilled child psychologist in our team to provide additional support for the children if necessary.  So give us a ring and our friendly reception staff will inform you all about the options and details. If you would like to read more about this subject, get opinions of other experts or some stats, please find some useful resources: Sexual education:

Children and porn:

  • http://parenting.kidspot.com.au/why-parents-have-to-understand-pornography/#.UpPWbOIT31U
  • The Australian institute- Regulating Youth Access to Pornography -Michael Flood -Clive Hamilton-The Australia Institute-Discussion Paper Number 53 -March 2003
  • Pornography Statistics-250+ facts, quotes, and statistics about pornography use (2013 Edition)

Sex Therapy at Attuned Psychology is an important service offered by our practice. For more information and to make enquiries, visit our Sex Therapy Adelaide page. 

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