How to talk to your child about pornography

Talking to your child about porn is challenging, but it’s important to be open and honest. The following advice from the NSPCC could help make an awkward conversation more manageable.

Finding the right time to talk to your child about porn can be tricky but you know your child best and will know when it’s the right time to have these conversations.

Here are five pointers to guide your conversation:

 

Feeling embarrassed

father son conversation about pornography

Acknowledge that your child might feel embarrassed or worried about talking to you. Reassure them that it is OK to feel curious about sex and that they can always talk to you.

Remember that they may have seen something online by accident or been pressured to look/watch by another person or group.

 

Online pornography isn’t real

daughter mother conversation about pornography

Explain that sex in porn is often different to how people have sex in real life. People are acting and putting on a performance so things are exaggerated and the lines between consent, pleasure and violence are often blurred. It's important for young people to know the difference.

Talking about healthy relationships can be a way of pointing out the differences between how actors and actresses in porn interact and how we do in our day-to-day lives.

 

Healthy relationships

father discussing porn with son

It's important for your child to understand that relationships they see in porn are very different, often not realistic, compared to real relationships. Talk to them about what makes a positive and healthy relationship. Ask them what they think makes a good relationship.

You can prompt them by discussing respect, personal boundaries and consent. This conversation may vary depending on your child's age.

 

Not everyone watches porn

mother and daughter heart to heart

Sometimes children and young people feel pressured to watch porn. Explain to your child that whilst some people watch porn online, not everyone does and it’s definitely not something they have to do.

Let them know it’s OK not to want to watch or do something that makes them feel uncomfortable and they should never be pressured or forced into anything.

Explain why you think that online porn may be inappropriate for them. Use reference points—news stories or TV shows, and the upcoming introduction of age checks on porn sites—as a way to frame the discussion.

 

Safe places to get information about sex and relationships

If you feel that there are some things about sex and relationships that your child would feel uncomfortable talking to you about, there are safe places online where they can get information, like the NSPCC’s Childline website.

 

Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter