Q & A: Imitating Porn

A concerned parent who is also a teacher contacted me with these great questions about how to talk to her children about the sexual behaviors they are exhibiting…imitating porn. Her situation raised several issues related to exposure to online sexually explicit images and how to talk to children about porn.

Dear Puberty Lady,

How do I talk about what is being seen on the internet? My two children have seen sexual behaviors online, and I’m concerned.

How do I talk with my 9-year-old who has body issues and is imitating sexual acts that they saw on the internet? She has been asking to be choked.

How do I tell my 15-year-old that porn is entertainment? I want them to know that it is not realistic or appropriate to copy many behaviors, such as rough sex, because of the dangers.

They seem to be imitating porn!

Thanks, Monitoring Mom

Dear Monitoring Mom,

Thank you for reaching out to share your questions about children and teens who are being impacted by the media messages they consume. As you know, children are exposed to sexual messages in all types of media. In this case, your children have found sexually explicit images on the internet. These types of images are commonly called pornography or porn.

As I think about your story, these issues come to mind:

  1. Learn more about online sexually explicit images
  2. Talk to children about porn
  3. Satisfy natural curiosity
  4. Monitor and protect

So, let me jump in and share my thoughts.

Learn More about Online Sexually Explicit Images:

Things have changed since we were young. Porn used to be hard to procure and expensive to own. Sexually explicit images often came as magazines wrapped in brown paper and viewing them was a very secretive activity.

With the widespread use of the internet and digital devices, porn is now easy to find or stumble across while using a computer or smartphone. It’s helpful to know more about how young people are exposed to porn. The Kids and Porn post explains what porn is and why it’s important to talk to children about sexually explicit images.

Talk to Children about Porn:

You are wise to talk with your children about porn, even if it might feel uncomfortable. Children often think that porn is the “right” way to have sex and relationships. They don’t understand that it is acting and fantasy. When children try to copy sexual behaviors seen online, it can lead to problems and even injuries.

Here are some great resources to help you prepare to talk with children about porn:

Satisfy Natural Curiosity:

One reason children look at porn is because they are curious. Curiosity is how children learn. It is far more effective to satisfy their curiosity by providing them with good books about puberty, sex, and relationships. I have read and reviewed several books. Learn all about them at Puberty Books. One of the classics, It’s Perfectly Normal, was just updated in May 2021, so check it out.

Monitor and Protect:

Part of a parent’s role is to protect and teach their children. That includes teaching kids how to stay safe online. Some children might stumble into a porn site; others go looking for information. Either way, you can safeguard children by keeping their devices out of their bedrooms and installing parental controls on all their devices. The Kids on Computers post talks about ways to protect children from exposure to sexually explicit images.

Meanwhile, I hope you are congratulating yourself for being the “askable adult” in your children’s lives. You can do it! …and it gets easier with practice!

Yours for health, The Puberty Lady

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