Talking to Kids About Porn and Cybersex
With the internet slowly dominating the world, it’s not a surprise that many children are growing used to the digital age. Because of this, parents are having to monitor and track how their children are using the internet. Not only is this in an effort to teach them boundaries, but it’s also a way to maintain their innocence for as long as possible. After all, the internet holds some pretty scary and inappropriate information if you go looking for it in the right places.
One such topic many parents are afraid to talk about is pornography. How does a parent talk about pornography and cybersex with their children in a constructive way? Keep reading below as we dive into the answer.
Do your research
Discussing the negatives of internet use is not something any parent wants to do. However, it’s important that every parent discusses porn and cybersex with their children so that the door to honest communication stays open. In order to have a constructive discussion with your children regarding these topics, you should first do your research.
Look for online articles regarding teen porn and cybersex usage. Take plenty of notes, research questions, and don’t be afraid to dive deep. While these topics are not exciting, it is important that you know plenty of information going into the conversation.
Have a calm discussion
When you’ve done your research and you’re ready to sit down with your children, plan for a calm conversation. Sometimes, this conversation is planned because a child has already showed signs of interacting with porn or cybersex. Other times, it’s precautionary. Either way, getting yourself into the right mindset is key. You don’t want to scold or yell at your children for any behavior they’ve already shown. Your goal here is to have a constructive conversation with calming, understanding tones. This will improve the chances of your children reacting positively to the sensitive topic.
Once ready, call your child into a private space and sit them down. Make sure it’s a space they will feel comfortable, like the kitchen table or the office. Try not to have this discussion around friends or in public spaces. Then, lead into a healthy conversation following the four steps below:
First, acknowledge the topic with your child. Let them know that you want to have a grown up conversation with them about some things they may have seen or may come across in the future on the internet. This is a good time to acknowledge that these things are not “bad” necessarily, but you want them to be aware of it. Always remember that they aren’t babies anymore but children who are growing quickly into adults. Don’t speak down to them, speak to them and be honest. This is a great way to get them to open up to you.
Once you’ve acknowledged the conversation and your intent, lead into an explanation. This is when you should tell your child that you want to discuss pornography and cybersex on the internet. Let them know you want to have this conversation because it’s important they know porn isn’t bad, but can lead to dangerous addictions if misused. Share the research you gathered and explain this isn’t a bad conversation. You just want to discuss what porn and cybersex is and how they can be managed in a healthy manner should they ever want to interact with them.
Once you’ve acknowledged and explained the reason for the conversation, open the door for discussion. Let your child share their thoughts and questions regarding the topic, and feel free to do the same. It’s best if this is a “no consequences” talk, where your child can feel free to share information openly, without the chance of retaliation. For example, if your child has already viewed porn or interacted with cybersex, you want them to tell you that without getting angry. Doing so will tell them that you value their honesty and are treating them as the teenager they are, not the baby they used to be.
Once the conversation has finished, make a decision with your child to leave the door to communication open. Porn and cybersex are not going away anytime soon, and neither will your child’s exposure to them. They should know that you’re happy to continue talking with them at any point in the future.
If you feel the need to have a talk with your children regarding porn and cybersex, but your still not sure where to start, seek advice from a professional. This conversation is important to your children’s health and approaching it incorrectly can be detrimental.
At Coeur d’Alene Counseling, we are experts in sex and porn addiction. We can be the medium you and your children need to discuss these topics openly and honestly, without shame or embarrassment.
If you’re ready to have this talk with your children, call us today!