Is your tween or teen watching porn? Most likely! Numerous studies suggest that the majority of 12-year-olds have encountered porn in some way, shape, or form.

It may have been on purpose, or it may have been accidental or unwanted exposure thanks to a pop-up or clicked video.

Now, we’re not saying there is anything wrong with viewing porn, or even if it’s your teen watching porn. But as a mum with an 11-year-old son, this news is quite an eye-opener.

Is it time for the porn chat?

Do I really have to have this conversation already? Should I be banning all porn sites from his iPad? What am I meant to say if I find something? 

I have no flippin’ clue. But CEO and Program Director of SEED Workshops, Catherine Manning does. She’s a leading provider of in-school respectful relationships & wellbeing workshops and parent seminars and part of the team over at Clickview Australia. 

So I asked Catherine to help shed some light on this seemingly dark subject.

Wherever there’s a device and the internet the opportunity for exposure is high. It can be quite confronting, but not unusual, to discover that your twelve-year-old’s emerging sexuality and curiosity has led them to the search bar.

What they’re looking for and what they find can be two different things, with popular tube sites presenting some graphic and often misogynistic portrayals of sexual encounters.”

Your first instinct if you do find porn in their browser history is to probably SHUT IT ALL DOWN. But don’t. They ARE going to come across this stuff somehow, somewhere. And it’s best to have a convo with them about it first.

Talk, don’t block

We’re pretty sure your tween would rather glue his eyelids shut than discuss porn with his mother. But, guess what? Parenting is all about super awkward convos, especially as our kiddies graduate into teen territory.

Catherine tells us,

Regardless of whether you think your child has been exposed to pornography or not, early conversations are crucial. Keep in mind that sex scenes can be intriguing and arousing so it’s natural to be drawn to them.”

The main concern of your tween watching porn is not that he or she may see people having sex. This in itself isn’t necessarily harmful to them.

What is potentially harmful is never having conversations about sex, pornography and relationships at all, especially when a lot of what they’re exposed to delivers problematic narratives about sexual relationships and expectations.”

teen watching porn

After all, you don’t want your tween thinking that porn is an accurate representation of a sexual relationship. There’s a lot of things that can pop up if they are innocently browsing – fetishes, threesomes, S&M-type scenes. Not that there is anything wrong with these – to each their own – but teens need to know that this isn’t what sex is always about.

Not only could tweens and teens see unrealistic sexual relationships, but they may also stumble across illegal abuse involving children, animals, rape scenes. Not something you want them to experience, but something they need to be aware of.

And guess who gets to explain ALL of this to them? We do!

So, let’s talk about porn, baby!

When will you strike up the conversation? At the dinner table with siblings present? Probably not the best place. Aim for a one-on-one conversation.

How about in the car? Where they can’t escape unless they hurl out a moving car window. Which they won’t. Probably not, at least.

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Try not to show them that you’re a wee bit shocked 

Yes, finding out your 11-year-old, who JUST YESTERDAY was three and asking you if he could sleep in your bed, is watching porn is a very shocking moment. But try not to start bawling or blubbering like a whalefish and instead keep cool.

You’ve got this.

Remind them there’s nothing wrong with nudity

Acknowledge that it’s completely normal and natural for people to be curious about sex and sexuality,” Catherine tells us.

“It’s important to foster healthy attitudes so be sure to not inadvertently paint sex or nudity as shameful or wrong.”

Ask them why they are watching 

Curiosity, most likely but it could also be because they want more information or answers. Answers they may not be getting during the school sex-ed talk. This is especially the case for LGBTQ students.

Make sure they know they won’t get into trouble

Tell them there won’t be any negative repercussions for speaking openly and honestly with you. Kids won’t talk to their parents if they’re afraid their devices will be taken away.”

Use your tween watching porn as a teaching tool

Ask them about what they have seen and start the conversation with some questions, such as:

  • Do you think the performers were treated with respect on camera and off?
  • Do you think the performers and production team were properly paid?
  • Did the actors appear to be comfortable and consenting?
  • Do you think they discussed what was going to happen before they started filming?

The main takeaway here: these people are ACTORS. It’s not real life.

Ask if they have any questions for you or about what they’ve seen

Expect your child to reply with the quickest “no” in the history of replies, but, hey, you’ve put it out there. You’re a cool mum, after all. You can talk about “reverse cowgirl” ’til the cows come home.

Porn, protection, and consent

The good thing about having the porn chat with your tween/teen is that it can lead to another conversation about protection and most importantly, consent.

Porn doesn’t feature birth control pills or condoms as part of the foreplay and it rarely shows actors verbally consenting to the acts. This needs to be addressed and teens need to understand that both of these things are part of the experience. Consent is a non-negotiable, despite it not playing out on YouTube, 

Looking for more info? Check out ClickView Australia’s teaching guides and materials supporting their ‘Respectful and Intimate Relationships’ content series, available now to teachers, parents, and students. 

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Author

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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