How to talk to your kids about pornography

While pornography may not be an easy topic to discuss with your kids, it’s more important than ever to talk to them about it.

That’s because kids nowadays have easy access to pornography thanks to the digital world they live in. They may accidentally come across it, seek it out or have friends who show it to them.

Online filters and restricted access settings can block out some pornographic content, however it doesn’t provide complete protection.

Here are our top tips for how to talk to your kids about pornography:

1. Start the conversation early

Talking to your kids in an age-appropriate way from a young age about things like body parts, consent, relationships, feelings and respect can make the conversation about pornography easier as they get older. It’s also better if you talk to them about pornography, if possible, before they see it to help minimise any shock or confusion they may experience when seeing it.

2. Porn does not reflect reality

Explain that pornography is not often an accurate reflection of sex in real life. Let them know pornography is performed by actors, that the scenes are choreographed and many of the actors have altered their appearance.

3. Talk about consent

Pornography often shows sexual aggression and violence – usually towards women. Make sure your kids understand consent and how it works. Remind them that pornography seldom shows the actors giving consent and often portrays sex as being about one person’s pleasure over another’s, rather than mutual pleasure and consent.

4. How are women and men portrayed?

Talk about how women and men are portrayed in pornography. Is the balance of power equal? Is sex something happening to them or are they equal, willing partners. How are men portrayed? Are they the aggressors?

5. Be open to questions

Be open to any questions your kids may ask about pornography or what they’ve seen. They may also have questions about sex and relationships in the real world. Be honest and open and let them know they can ask you anything. Try to stay calm if they come to you with something upsetting they have seen. Provide comfort and reassurance and let them know they did the right thing talking to you.

6. It’s okay to not watch

Peer pressure can be a strong influence on kids. Let them know it’s okay to not watch pornography and to speak up if they don’t feel comfortable with what they are seeing.

If you have any concerns about your child’s porn use or want more information about how to talk to your kids about pornography, you can contact the following organisations for more advice:

Netsafe
Free text or call Need to Talk: 1737
Youthline
Lifeline

References

  1. Keep it Real Online video Health Navigator, NZ 
  2. How to approach the conversation with your child Keep It Real Online, NZ
  3. Talking with young people about pornography Classification Office, NZ
  4. 6 tips to talk to your kids about porn in a sex-positive way Healthline, US