Every child will see pornography. After years of studying the impact of pornography on children and its widespread availability, I am convinced of this. Still, most parents optimistically hold to the “not my child” belief. But that’s not what the stats tell us. And with perpetual technological advances, the numbers will only increase. As parents, we must prepare ourselves and we must prepare our children for the moment(s) of early pornography exposure.
You may be asking yourself at what age the conversations about pornography should begin. The answer is alarming and uncomfortable: younger than you think. In the Parents & Caregivers section of her book Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr, author Kristen Jenson shares the following:
“Experts in child abuse prevention and pornography addiction recovery advise parents to begin educating kids about online dangers as soon as they have access to the internet. This includes access from mobile devices owned by friends, family members, teachers, fellow students and babysitters.”
Do your young children have access to the internet? If so, then it’s time to start taking this topic seriously on behalf of your children….even your very young children.
My children have internet access through various devices and I began educating both of my boys about the dangers of pornography at young ages (girls are also at risk). I read the book Good Pictures Bad Pictures to my oldest son when he was around 6 years old. He memorized the CAN DO plan that prepares children for what to do when they see pornography. Then, when Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr came out, I read it to my 3 year old, teaching him the Turn, Run, & Tell plan. As a parent who is acutely aware of the impact of pornography on children, I cannot tell you how grateful I am so have these books as resources for my children. While I cannot fully prevent my kids from exposure to pornography, I can prepare them to know what to do when it happens, which is vitally important.
Many parents might cringe at the idea of introducing the topic of pornography to their children. They might worry that such conversations could ruin their children’s innocence but this simply is not true. What will spoil their innocence is exposure to pornography that they are not prepared for. As Jenson shares, “parents who arm their young children against the dangers of pornography are not destroying their children’s innocence: They’re protecting it!”
Certainly, talking about pornography with our children in the wrong way would harm them. That is one reason why I love the Good Pictures Bad Pictures books. They present this difficult topic in an age-appropriate way. They do not give children ideas, they give them tools, helping them see pornography as a poison to their brains.
If you are a parent, I recommend the following books preparing to talk with children about pornography (click here for additional resources):
I admit, even thinking about these kinds of conversations can be difficult for parents. Regardless of how uncomfortable this is for us, I believe we owe our children the best shot at responding wisely to early exposure to pornography. There are many challenges our children will experience growing up in this day and age. Let’s prepare them for one of them.
–Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, Clinical Director of LifeSTAR of the Central Valley and author of Life After Lust. If you benefited from this article, please “follow” us on this blog and on Twitter, “like” us on Facebook, and SHARE this article and blog with others. Thank you!