Parents: How to Talk to Children about Porn?

Why we need to talk to our children about porn?

My son is 7+ years old and demands independent screen time. However, his screen time is restricted to 20 minutes a day, he now knows how to spell and write – which means he can use Google and YouTube to look for whatever he wants. And this is where I get concerned. 1/3rd of all internet traffic is porn. And children under the age of 9 are likely to accidently stumble upon porn .

As a parent, you may take some precautions. You may have your search settings in safe mode or use software to protect your child from pornographic websites on the computer. But how do you control your child from the comments section on YouTube or a search query misspelled or a non-appropriate ad running on a site which your child is referring to for research or homework?

We run a YouTube channel, NutSpace Edtech, where we use enactments to teach children new words. The channel seems to have become popular amongst adults too. One of them wanted us to act out the word ‘f***’! Now, how does one control that? Obviously, we instantly deleted the comment – but one cannot be always proactive! We monitor our channel very closely and have filters to ban users who publish blacklisted words, but all channels may not do that. What if a child stumbles upon an objectionable word and out of curiosity searches for the word online?

66% of adolescents who saw porn online said they stumbled upon it by accident

What is the impact of porn?

33% of Internet traffic is porn. One is definitely going to come across it if they are on the internet. We don’t know exactly what the impact is going to be in the long run as there is free and easy access to it. The problem is not only with porn but with other apps, commercials, and TV shows. What we watch is what we do. TV shows, movies, and ads are subconsciously encouraging girls to dress up like adults. On TikTok app you will have school going teens wearing revealing clothes and lip-syncing songs which I personally find inappropriate for their age. Children have started laying a lot of emphasis on how they look, who they hang out with, what they wear and how they can be more acceptable. This behavior and mindset have been linked to eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression by the American Psychological Association.


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Most porn videos objectify women. They are harsh and far beyond reality. These can create misconceptions in children – about women, the respect for them and the entire idea of sex and the emotions attached to it.

For this reason it is becoming very important for parents and educators to talk to children about sexualised images that they may encounter on the internet. It is also important to bring up boys with a mindset to respect girls and bring up girls with a mindset to be confident and have a better self-esteem. Both boys and girls should be told that life is much more than how one looks / appears. The way one is turned out does not define one’s qualities and inner-strengths. As parents and educators we can guide our children to take more informed decisions about what they wear and what content they consume.

When to talk to your children about porn?

There is no definite answer to this. It’s up to you and when you feel your child is ready for the talk. Here is some data that may help you to decide.

42% of Internet users aged 10-17 years said they viewed porn in the last year. 66% of adolescents who saw porn online said they stumbled upon it by accident. According to a study by the University of New Hampshire: 90% of boys and 60% of girls watch porn before their 18th birthday. Most boys are exposed to porn around age of 12 years.

Data Relevant to India:

In July 2015, Times of India revealed the results of a survey of around 400 students. 70% of the boys had watched porn at the age of 10; 93% of the boys said that they thought porn was as addictive as drugs; and 86% said watching porn led to sexual activity in real life.

In a 2014 shocking report, ABP Live stated that 80% of college students in India watched porn; 40% of these watched rape porn and 76% admitted that watching rape porn led to the desire to rape women.

This clearly states the need to talk about porn, the myths about it and the need to talk about respecting women.

There is no “right age” as to when you can talk to your child about sex or porn. You will know when it is the right time to have a conversation with your child. Children as young as 3-4 start learning about body parts in school. At NutSpace we conduct an awareness workshop on Safe and Unsafe touch for children as young as 4 years. In this workshop we help children become aware of their body parts and educate them on safe and unsafe touch and that their body ‘belongs to them’.

By the time your child is 7 – 8 years old,  he/she has probably already asked you about breasts or the difference between a man’s and a woman’s private parts or even asked you why it is not alright to enter the bathroom while you are taking a shower. It is important not to dismiss these questions. In fact, you should treat it as a normal conversation and answer them without any delay. If you would like to have the channels of communication between you and your child always open then make sure you never evade their questions, especially the ones that make you uncomfortable. The solution is to simply tell the truth.

5 things parents should tell children about porn

Porn is fake: Just like WWE is not real wrestling, porn isn’t real sex. People are just acting / performing. It is not based on real relationships or how it happens in reality.

Don’t be judgemental: Don’t tell your child what is right or wrong. Moreover don’t judge your child for what he/she watches. You need to talk to your children and encourage them think about what they watch and why they watch it. Also question them on how they got access to the content – Was it a pop-up on the browser or did a friend share it or if they intentionally searched for it. Most importantly stay calm when you question.

Your body belongs to you: Don’t let anyone make you feel uncomfortable by touching you. In case someone’s touch makes you feel uncomfortable just walk away from that person and look for someone who you can trust. You may also shout out for help in case the person is being forceful. Also make sure that you do not undress for anyone – even your boyfriend / girlfriend –  especially if there are cameras. In case someone is forcing you to do so or has manipulated you – then you must come and talk to us. You must know that once an image is on the internet, it will always remain there. Always.

Sex is consensual: Relationships are built on trust. It is very important to treat each other with respect. One should not force oneself on another. Sexual relationships should be consensual. Even if you are dating someone and that person does not want to be in a physical relationship with you – you must respect that. Similarly, it is not worth being in a relationship if the other person forces you to do things you don’t want to do. You must communicate your feelings and thoughts to the other person. You must remember that we are always there for you and you can come to us for any advise or if you wish for us to intervene.

Don’t watch things you find disturbing: You need to encourage your child to trust their gut. In case they find something disgusting or disturbing, they should immediately turn it off or close the browser. In case they have questions about what they saw or are feeling uncomfortable about it they should be encouraged to come up to you and talk to you about it. It is not necessary that the content is only porn – it could be even related to violence, drugs or nudity.

Things parents should not do

Do not project porn as a taboo or something that is evil. It’s important to educate children on the subject rather than do moral policing. Do not make your child feel guilty for watching porn. Don’t question them in an accusatory tone about the following:

“Who showed it to you?”

“Why are you watching it?”

“Where did you find it?”

How to Protect Children from Discovering Adult Content Accidently?

While the Indian government has tried to play nanny and ban a lot of porn sites, children are getting smart at searching the internet and finding free tools that can help them get past the security and access content. Here are a few things you can do to prevent your children from accidentally stumbling upon pornographic content.

Block Porn from Google Search:

Google can search almost anything on the web. This includes pornographic content that may not be suitable for children at home. You can opt to block porn from Google by going to settings and turning on SafeSearch. Click here for detailed instructions.

Don’t watch Porn on a device that your child uses:

If you watch porn, make sure that it is not on a system that your child uses. Often cookies get downloaded on your machine. Cookies are small data files that usually get downloaded when you visit a website and they contain data of your visit to the website. Read more about cookies here. If you must visit a porn website make sure to clear the history of your browsers and also the cache and cookies.

Block Adult Content on Youtube:

If you are giving independent screen time to your child, especially on YouTube make sure you have the Restricted Mode On. Watch the video below to know how to switch on the restricted mode.

Install Parental Control Software:

There are many parental control softwares available in the market. You may try Norton Family. It is user friendly and trusted. It is available for desktops and phones. Norton believes that “Safe and healthy online habits start with honest conversations.” They have built tools that allow parents to see kids’ online activities at a glance or be notified by email alerts.

Give your child monitored screen time:

If your child is below 13 years of age, try being around if not with the child while he/she is accessing your mobile or laptop. This will help you to monitor what your child watches and for how long he/she watches it. Try to give your children active screen time rather than passive screen time. In case your child does come across inappropriate content – you are there around to at least answer his/her questions.

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