Adolescence is a time of sexual curiosity and sexually experimentation. It is common and typical for adolescents to seek sexually related materials, often using the Internet as their primary source of reference. With a majority of teens accessing online pornography prior to the age of 18 it is imperative the parents be aware of how their adolescents use of online pornography may impact them.
What Our Experts Are Saying
Insights, recommendations, and advice for parents balancing kids and technology from the doctors, subject matter experts and thought leaders in the Modern Parent Project community.
What to Do?
Direct, straightforward and summarized advice and recommendations. Parents, please consider the following insights when navigating the challenging topic of kids and technology.
What NOT to Do?
The wrong words or actions can sometimes make things worse with kids. Parents, please consider avoiding the following potential traps.
Educate yourself about online pornography and adolescents use of it. It will help you begin to feel more comfortable with the subject and thus better able to speak with your child about it.
Talk To Your Child About Pornography
As a protective factor against the impacts of online pornography, a strong relationship between parents and adolescents with open and trusting communication about sexuality has been associated with a decrease in an adolescent’s risky sexual behavior and can lead to healthier sexual outcomes. With research indicating that adolescents use of online pornography is increasing, and an understanding that their exposure to online pornography effects their psychosexual development, there is a great need for parent involvement in educating adolescents about online pornography.
Don't Shame Your Child
Talking about pornography with your child may be uncomfortable for both of you, but it is important to try and not shame your child about their sexual curiosities. If you are able to enter a conversation with them about pornography that is about learning and understanding of your teens experience with pornography, then it will help to foster more open conversations.
Don't talk only once
The conversation with your child shouldn’t happen only once, but rather should be an ongoing conversation. Continue to revisit the conversation with your child.
Adolescents and The Impact of Online Pornography
During adolescence it is developmentally normal and expected that teens will become sexually curious and sexually experiment. As they continue to develop sexually, it is not uncommon for adolescents to seek sexually related materials, often using the Internet as their primary source of reference. Today the Internet makes sexually explicit material easily accessible, affordable, and users are able to remain anonymous. It is well known that adolescents use the Internet as a sexual resource and are large consumers of online pornography. The literature indicates that 93% of boys and 72% of adolescent girls are exposed to online pornography before the age of 18 with a majority of exposure occurring between the ages of 14 and 17.
The depiction of sex in online pornography portrays sex as a mainly physical self-indulgent activity in which one’s pleasure takes precedent over relational factors, with a limited to no display of affection or intimacy, and with no portrayal of consequences. Depicted as a casual act, there is a limited portrayal of communication, relational factors, and intimacy. For adolescents who are exposed to online pornography their sexual experiences may have been minimal and typically only include masturbation, kissing and oral sex, consequently exposure to online pornography may give rise to discrepancies when comparing that which they see with their own sexual experiences. Adolescents lived experience may not match the depiction of sex in online pornography.
It is suggested in the literature that adolescents often use online pornography as a tool for sex education posing high risks in their development of ideas about sex, gender roles, sexuality, intimacy, and relationships. Additionally research has indicated that online pornography use can impact adolescent’s attitudes, norms, and behaviors.
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