Talking to Your Kids About Porn

Jane new headshotby Jane Jackson, LPC-Intern

Are you protecting your kids from Internet predators? How are you preparing their developing brains to deal with content beyond their capacity when they do encounter it?

In today’s tech-based culture, Internet skills are learned early on; so parents need to be vigilant about implementing protective measures regarding Internet safety. Moreover, it’s critical for adults to initiate age-appropriate conversation that will encourage kids to ask questions when they see inappropriate images online.

A great guide to help navigate these conversations is a book for parents to read with their children called Good Pictures Bad Pictures (K Jenson, and G Poyner). Providing simple explanations on how we’re wired mentally–identifying both the thinking brain and the feeling brain (see article by ACW’s Annie Higgins on how porn use really affects brain wiring), this book offers good information and an action plan to equips kids to respond when pornography is encountered. Sadly, this excellent preventative measure for kids is needed at an early age, often earlier than we may expect.

Good Pictures Bad Pictures spells out a C.A.N. D.O. strategy for how to respond when eyes first see porn:

 

C         Close my eyes immediately.
A          Always tell a trusted adult.
N         Name it when I see it: “That’s pornography!”

D         Distract myself.
O         Order my thinking brain to be the boss!

Each age and stage of your child’s development will require different levels of protection. Marriage and Family Therapist David Wever suggests the following safety checks (taken from an article written and reprinted with permission at covanenteyes.com).

Preschool

  • Kid-friendly sites
  • Investigate Internet-filtering tools.
  • Begin teaching about privacy.
  • Sit with them and watch everything.
  • Use a pop-up blocker.

Early Elementary (K-3rd)

  • Oversee online activity.
  • Bookmark favorite sites.
  • No instant messaging, email, chat rooms or message boards
  • Use protective software.
  • Communicate

Upper Elementary (4th – 6th)

  • Computer and devices in public areas of the house
  • Discourage instant messaging.
  • Share email accounts and have a list of Internet house rules.
  • Communicate – encourage kids to come to you before giving out info
  • and talk with them about sexuality and pornography.
  • Use all filters, protective software and kid-friendly search engines.

Middle School (7th and 8th)

  • Make clear boundaries concerning the Internet (no personal photos, personal info, and no meeting of online friends).
  • Keep computer in open, public area of the house– never in a child’s room.
  • Communicate responsible online behavior.
  • Don’t allow your teenager to go into public chat rooms.
  • Use blocking software to filter websites your teen may visit.
  • No financial transactions online without parent permission
  • Use all protective software.

High School (9th – 12th)

  • Make clear boundaries concerning the Internet and make them clear to your teenager (no personal photos, personal info, and no meeting of online friends).
  • Keep computer in open, public area of the house– never in a child’s room.
  • Communicate responsible online behavior.
  • Don’t allow your teenager to go into public chat rooms.
  • Use all protective software to filter the websites your teen may visit.
  • No financial transactions online without parent permission

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