We need to start the conversation about pornograpny. Possibly one of the greatest risks of harm to children online at the moment, is their own ability to access Pornographic content at a very young age. There was once a time when access pornography required a credit card and a payment. Those days are long gone. Pornography for the most part is freely accessible online. Given how extreme the free content available is, one can’t help but wonder what type of content requires a payment. Age restrictions and Parental Controls do assist parents in restricting access to pornographic sites. However, inevitably children will be exposed at some point, either in their own home on a digital device or quite often on a school friend’s device.
This makes the need for parents having a conversation with their children about the type of pornographic content found online really important. Young teens especially, really need to understand that the content they are exposed to online, is not a true reflection of how couples interact with each other in the real world. This can be a terrifying and indeed mortifying prospect for most parents. Most schools, both primary and secondary now have very comprehensive sexual health education for students. This does go a long way to assist parents, but having access to online resources can help also.
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Keeping it Real Online
An initiative was launch by the government in New Zealand called “Keeping it real online”. They have produced a series of four short videos which are absolutely brilliant. The one which addresses pornography access for parents and children is especially good. Have a look for yourself and see. It’s always about starting the conversation.
Some tips on having a conversation
For many parents it can be really daunting prospect to talk to children about online pornography. It may help if you are aware of the level of education that the child has already had in school and use that at a starting point. The child will feel just as uncomfortable as you so be aware of that. Be patient and try not to force the issue as you can always return to the issue if the moment is not quite right.
The most important issues to discuss with the child surround the issue of acceptable sexual behaviour and consent. Help the child to fully understand that what they may see online if not a true reflection of what happens in the real world. Try not to be overly judgemental, as children are curious by nature and will want to explore their own sexual nature, however parents should point out that pornography is not the appropriate avenue for this.
Trust and respect are an essential aspect of relationships, often pornography presents content which is disrespectful and degrades these concepts. Relationships can neither be created nor maintained under such circumstances.
Parents should share their concerns about the potential short and long term harm associated with accessing pornography. Viewing pornography can become seriously detrimental to some both from a psychological and physiological perspective. There are also serious addiction issues bing identified for both males and females. Connections have also been made between offenders who go on to commit violent crimes and pornography consumption. In Ireland this was highlighted in the Anna Kriegel murder case.
Don’t forget the Parental Controls
Finally, ensure you have set up parental controls to restrict and monitor your child’s online activity.