How can I talk to my child about unhealthy images?

Your child is likely to come across unwanted images online at some point. So how do you broach the subject? Richard Essery from Brook offers these tips for parents

‘We can help them develop tools to navigate the world around them – and that includes porn’

It’s unrealistic to assume we can stop young people being exposed to unhealthy images, whether those are rape scenes in video war games or idealised views of women that make girls feel inadequate. Equally, we may not be able to stop children and young people seeing porn – but we can help them to be thoughtful about all of these visual messages. We can help them develop tools to navigate the world around them – and that includes porn.

Here are our tips for talking to your child about porn:

  • Make sure you don’t make your child feel naughty, grubby or in trouble for seeing porn. They may have looked at it for a dare or been shown it by friends.
  • Try coming at the issue sideways: ask them what their friends think of porn and whether young people believe it has an effect on them.
  • Suggest to them that the most important thing when it comes to sex in the real world is usually whether people want the same thing and respect each other – whereas the opposite is often true in porn. Porn might be very misleading!
  • Studies of thousands of young people and adults have shown that porn can make real-world sex less enjoyable. Ask them why they think that might be? Ask whether they think it’s odd that there are no relationships in porn – when, in the real world, relationships turn out to be the most important thing.
  • Make sure they have access to proper sex advice and information. www.brook.org.uk is a great help.

Further reading

Access to information about porn that is written for them, in a non-threatening, non-bossy tone at www.pleasurevsprofit.co.uk.

There is lots of useful information on www.thinkuknow.co.uk/14_plus/Need-advice/Porn/

How to have awkward conversations: a parent's guide from a phsychotherapist 

Advice for parents on harmful sexual content online from NCA-CEOP's Dr Elly Hanson

 

The advice published on Parent Info is provided by independent experts in their field and not necessarily the views of Parent Zone or NCA-CEOP.

First published: May 2014

Updated: May 2018

 

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