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Teen Talk: Porn

Parents, have you had the talk with your kids? Not that talk, but the one that comes next. The porn talk is vital because kids need to know that its ready availability and depictions of sex can have deeply negative effects on their sex lives.

Research shows that the average kid first sees internet porn around age eleven—with some saying kids as young as eight report accidentally seeing porn online. In a landscape where internet porn continues to gain viewers (in 2018 one porn website reported more than 100 million daily visitors), parents must include pornography in conversations they have with their children if they care about sexual health.

Porn is not a reliable tool for teaching young people about healthy, consensual, mutually pleasurable sex. According to The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson, “with digital pornography, young people discover a trove of tantalizing content that’s been utterly decontextualized from any real person’s sexual experience—and that’s especially problematic if the porn is violent.” Research has connected pornography with sexual aggression and indifference towards sexual violence.

In July, a new law in the United Kingdom—the first of its kind—will require age verification by porn websites. That’s a good first step, but parents have an important role in educating their children about the effects of pornography.

The organization Internet Matters, whose mission is helping parents to keep their children safe online, just released a series of videos guiding parents to have this important conversation with their kids, starting as young as six years old. Fathers of boys can also check out this video about how important is it for men to teach their sons about sex and pornography. Or check our the Child Mind Institute’s guidelines for talking to your kids about porn.

Take Action! Teach the young people in your life, whose brains are still developing, that pornography does not teach good sexual practices.