It seems harmless to send your 8-year-old son to a friend’s house after school. You know the parents, and he’s been going there since he was six. What harm could come from it?
Unfortunately, kids don’t stay innocent, and they could be exposed to more than you’d like them to when they’re away from you. A huge concern for parents is exposure to pornography, which is becoming more common at younger ages.
When this happens, there are a lot of questions you might have regarding how to deal with it. There are probably a lot of questions running through your mind. What can you do? Should you talk to their friend’s parents? Limit visits to that house? Supervise their interactions? What’s appropriate?
You’re not alone in asking these questions, and we want to provide some of the answers. Use this as a guide to handle this sensitive situation when it occurs.
What You Should Know About Teens and Pornography
Most of the time, pornography begins in the teenage years. The average age of pornography exposure occurs by the age of 12 and 90 percent of boys and 60 percent of girls are exposed to pornography online before the age of 18. Furthermore, about 71 percent of teens have hidden their internet history from their parents due to online pornography.
Parents must be alert and vigilant if they want to reduce their children’s pornography exposure. Recent research shows the way that pornography can affect teenagers who are exposed. It can turn into violent behavior, especially in men towards women, and it can also hinder their ability to socialize with others. When youth are exposed to pornography at young ages, they’re typically not informed enough to process what they’re seeing. If parents haven’t had “the talk” with their kids yet, seeing pornographic images can be overwhelming, confusing, and can put your child on an unhealthy path of sexual exploration.
3 Things To Do If Your Child Has Been Shown Pornography At Their Friends House
You know the importance of handling this situation, but what do you do? Here are some steps to effectively handling the situation.
1. Talk To Your Child First
Express to your child that you’re grateful they came to you with their questions. If they did not come to you first and you found out through someone else, be sure to create a safe space as you begin your conversation with them about pornography. Ask them what exactly they saw, how it made them feel, if they felt safe at their friends house, and what they’d like to know or do moving forward concerning this topic. Avoiding shaming them. It can be easy to panic and try to stress to your child that pornography is bad if that’s how you feel, but sexuality is human nature. Shaming your child for viewing pornography can send them mixed messages about how they should and shouldn’t feel about sex.
2. Talk To Their Friend’s Parents
Chances are they’ll want to know that their child has been viewing pornography and showing it to friends so they can intervene. It might be an awkward conversation, but it’s too important for your teen’s (and theirs) well-being to ignore.
Through this conversation, you can also learn whether or not they’re concerned about their child’s pornography use. If it doesn’t seem like they’ll take action, you may want to limit visits in the future.
If you’re both take a similar stand on pornography issues, you can make a game plan together that allows the families to continue their friendship as well as setting boundaries that keep every happy, healthy, and safe.
It’s important to remember that you could some day be the parent who receives a phone call notifying you that your child has shown someone else pornographic material. So be kind, be patient, and work together as parents with one goal in mind – helping the kids.
3. Get To Know The Parents Of Your Children’s Friends
When these situations arise, it could be damaging to your child social self esteem to sever ties with their friends. This instance, and many similar, are going to occur as you raise kids. It’s not easy and it isn’t necessarily welcomed, but it is inevitable at some point they’re going to be introduced to things you don’t agree with. One way to make these instances less frequent and easier to handle is to develop relationships with the parents of your children’s friends. Knowing the homes atmosphere and moral compass will help you to know what kind of environment your child will be in when they’re at their friends house.
Knowing the parents will also make conversations like “Hi Pam, My son told us that your son showed him internet porn” a bit more comfortable. You’ll know in advance if this is something Pam will lash out at you for or if you can expect a reasonable reaction from her.
Occasionally, you’ll have to limit your child’s interaction with certain friends. When other parent’s disagree with your opinions, you won’t receive the support you’re looking for from them when your children are at their house. If the issue is something as mind altering as pornography, then the benefits will outweigh the problems that arise from severing the relationships.
Utilize Your Child’s Natural Moral Compass
In my experiences with my own children, pornography makes kids uncomfortable. It makes them feel “bad” for reasons they can’t explain. If you have these conversations with them early on, while pornography hasn’t become something “normal” to them, you can help them to decide for themselves that it isn’t something they want to look at. It helps to explain as well that most intimate interactions between consenting adults are not as extreme as what they’ll see if they view pornography. There is plenty of evidence that pornography is not “normal” sexual behavior and that viewing this explicit material causes problems in future relationships and marriages.
Helping them to recognize their own moral compass will equip them with the confidence they need to say “NO” when their friends bring it up again – and it will happen again.
Seek Help For Addictions
Pornography exposure is a major concern because it’s very addictive, mind altering, and depressive. If your child becomes addicted to pornography, it’s important to get help before the problem runs too deep.
Help Your Teen Now is a professional resource that many parents turn to for overcoming problems like this and more. For more information about our services and how we can help, call today at 800-901-7347.