Kids and Porn

 

What Is Porn?

Kids and Porn

Porn is a slang term for pornography. Pornography is in the eye of the beholder. It is so difficult to define that when the Supreme Court tried and failed, one Justice famously said, “I know it when I see it.” In 1973, the Supreme Court established a three-pronged test for identifying obscenity. It is based on the assessment of an “average person, applying contemporary adult community standards.” The problem is that pornography has changed so much that the standards are outdated and vary greatly from person to person. However, our standards clearly don’t include kids and porn.

Experts in the field of sexuality avoid the term pornography because of its vague definition. Instead, we refer to “sexually explicit images” in order to more clearly describe it and to avoid judgmental language.

One thing we can all agree on is that porn and sexually explicit images are not a replacement for sex education for young people. So, what can we do about kids having such easy access to porn?

How Kids Are Exposed to Porn

Kids are curious. Wondering what naked bodies look like is a typical part of their healthy childhood sexual development. During this developmental stage, they might ask questions and look for pictures of naked people online.

If trusted adults don’t provide information and answer questions, kids will look for answers on the internet. In the past, kids would look at dictionaries, encyclopedias, libraries, or magazines like the National Geographic. These sources provided information that was designed for the general public. Some sources included photos or diagrams of bodies, but they did not include explicit sexual content that was exploitative.

Now, the internet is the number one, go-to source of information for young people. Online content is limitless and may lead to websites that are not designed for children. The explicit sexual content available on the internet is designed to exploit sex acts and sell products. “Free porn” is especially likely to include content that shows unrealistic portrayals of body parts and sex acts, nonconsensual sex acts, violence against women, sex acts with children, sex without the context of a relationship, and other harmful images and messages for children.

Reasons to Talk to Kids about Porn

  • Every parent wants their child to grow up with a positive view of sexuality. Kids who learn about sex from porn develop a false view of sexuality. Kids are not able to tell that porn is fantasy, a play, a production for adult entertainment. They end up believing that their bodies must look and perform like those they see in porn. They think they should replicate the behaviors and relationships portrayed in porn. This can lead to poor body image and unhealthy relationship patterns.
  • Even if you have not given your child a smartphone, you keep computers in public areas of the house, and you have parental controls on all devices, your child can still access sexually explicit images. All it takes is one friend whose parents have not taken those measures to create a path to viewing porn.
  • Children might be conducting a legitimate search on the internet and unintentionally trigger a pop-up screen showing explicit sexual images. If your child is unprepared, they might click on something to try to close the screen and instead activate the appearance of more explicit images.
  • Talking about porn before your child is exposed to it is likely to be a much less emotional conversation than trying to remain calm if porn is already displayed on a screen.
  • Just like any health or safety lesson, it is important to equip your child for events that you hope they never encounter. Discuss porn the same way you talk about seatbelt safety, bike helmets, and toothbrushing…calmly and without trying to scare your child into compliance. When you talk about porn calmly, your child is more likely to report it to you when they see porn, instead of hiding it.

False Claims about Porn

Myths and rumors about pornography make it even more controversial. Read the real facts about these five false claims:

  • Claim 1: The rise of online pornography and digital marketplaces for sex work has coincided with a rise in violence against women.
  • Claim 2: Teens who watch porn are more likely to engage in sexually risky behaviors.
  • Claim 3: Online porn is uniquely addictive.
  • Claim 4: Porn desensitizes men to regular sex.
  • Claim 5: Legal porn increases human trafficking.

Read more:

Sign up to receive a FREE sample lesson to see what Puberty: The Wonder Years is all about.Download free sample puberty curriculum lesson