With easy access to the internet from any mobile device, it’s not a question of if our kids will be exposed to pornography; it’s a matter of when. That’s why one of the most valuable gifts we can give our children is having a pornography talk and giving them an internal filter- one they can take with them wherever they go.
When should you have a pornography talk with your kids? Unfortunately, as soon as they have any access to a screen and that can start young.
We sat down with Kristen A. Jenson, MA, author of Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids, to talk about a plan to protect young minds.
Here are Jenson’s tips to help parents begin the “pornography talk”:
1. Define “pornography”
Many parents are uncomfortable saying the p-word. I get it! This is a daunting topic, but we can keep it simple. Here’s a non-threatening way to define pornography: “Bad pictures show the private parts of the body that we cover with a swimsuit” (Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr: A Simple Plan to Protect Young Minds). See? That’s not so hard! According to Jill Manning, PhD, author of What’s the Big Deal About Pornography: A Guide for the Internet Generation, teaching a child to recognize pornography is the first step to empowering them to reject it.
2. Avoid shame
When we discover that our child has viewed pornography, keep calm! The fact is, if we’re prepared (and avoid freaking out!) we will be more likely to safely guide our kids away from pornography. In Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr., kids are assured, “But even if you see a bad picture, that doesn’t make you a bad kid.” Kids are naturally curious so dialing down the shame factor will allow us to mentor our children away from content that is often enticing, but ultimately very harmful.
3. Start early
When should we start talking to kids about pornography? As soon as they have access to the internet! Many parents worry that talking to their kids about pornography might make them curious. But that is actually a good thing! We want our children to be curious about pornography while they are by our side. We have two choices: either we tell them about pornography or the media and friends certainly will. If we want to establish ourselves as the first, most reliable source of information, we need to take the initiative, be proactive, and arm our kids against pornography.
4. Give kids a practical action plan
Most kids know what to do if they catch on fire: Stop, Drop, and Roll. But do they know what to do if they see pornography? Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr. gives kids ages 3 to 6 a simple plan that is easy to remember: Turn, Run, and Tell. Turn away from the bad picture. Run away. Tell a trusted adult.
Our book for older children, Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids, teaches kids ages 7 to 12 a simple, yet more in-depth, explanation of how using pornography can be harmful–it can become an addiction. Kids are taught the 5-step CAN DO Plan which includes tips for minimizing the shocking memories of pornography exposure.
5. Get the script for a pornography talk
Just like any important subject–from stranger danger to saying “no” to drugs–we need to talk about pornography early and often. But how do we start the conversation? The Good Pictures Bad Pictures books are an excellent tool for parents because they make the porn talk as easy as reading a bedtime story. It’s a familiar, comfortable format, and there are even optional notes and questions to help spark side conversations with your kids.
The companion website, Protect Young Minds, provides helpful free guides and weekly articles to keep parents informed and empowered to help kids reject pornography and all forms of sexual exploitation.
Talking to kids about pornography can seem like an intimidating task, but with the right tips and tools, it’s definitely do-able. Don’t be scared–be prepared! You can do this!
Have you talked to your kids about pornography? Let us know how it went in the comments below.
About our guest blogger:
Kristen A. Jenson, MA believes every child deserves to be warned about the dangers of Internet pornography before they get exposed to it online. That’s why she is determined to provide parents (and grandparents) with tools they can use to easily educate and empower their kids to protect themselves from the dangers of Internet porn. Her books Good Pictures Bad Pictures and Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr., make it easy for caring adults to begin talking with their kids about a difficult but important subject. Kristen also blogs at Protect Young Minds, where she posts the latest news, resources, tips, and threats to keep parents and professionals updated every week. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.
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