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What to do when your teen watches porn?

What to do when your teen watches porn?

children watching adult content

As parents, it is not comfortable to find out that your tween or  teen watches pornographic content. Since most kids will see pornography before turning eighteen, many parents already face this distressing experience. Pornography wasn’t easily accessible a decade back and was only available as a DVD or in magazines. But now, in this world of technology, the internet and smartphones, porn is more widely available than ever before. The internet search isn’t even a prerequisite – irrelevant pop-ups and spam emails are enough to get porn into your online world even if you haven’t specifically gone looking for it. The ease with which umpteen sites host shocking images and visuals that are accessed is problematic for many parents.

In adolescence, the brain is easily influenced by perceived actions since it is at its most sensitive state. When stimulated, the brain releases chemicals that create a cascading effect of memory and motivation. The brain wants more, leading to an addiction.

What steps should parents or guardians take if they find that their teen watches porn?

It is becoming increasingly important for parents to know the amount of time their teenagers spend online, the history log of their browsers, when to use parental guidance control, and how to approach this topic with them.

If your child has seen or is seeing pornography, it’s essential to stay calm. Gather some information first before you address the issue with your child.

  • Talk to your child in a caring, relaxed, constructive and supportive way.
  • Try to understand with whom your child is viewing pornography – alone or with friends.
  • Try to understand why your child is interested in viewing pornography.
  • Work out the best way to handle the situation without yelling and accusations.
  • It’s important to let your child know that it’s quite normal to be interested in sex and sexuality and that they’re not really in trouble.

Forget the “This is not our culture” talk.

However, if you experience the problematic situations mentioned below, you have to address the behaviour with discussions and consequences.

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  • Suppose your teen watches porn that includes violence. In that case, Research shows that when a person is viewing violent, pornographic content, the chances that the person himself would perpetrate sexual violence are high.
  • If the visuals include anything with children, a rape scene or a non-consensual sexual contact, or even anything with animals, it isn’t normal. There is hardly any mention of consent or safe sexual practices, and much of the sexual activity focuses on men’s pleasure rather than women’s. Such projections could lead them to think that objectifying women is acceptable or that the males  can be more dominant and that females should be submissive.
  • Another disturbing situation is when porn becomes an addiction and the person’s primary source of entertainment. Children then tend to be confined to their space with less or no interaction with others. Frequent use of porn has been linked to many concerning behaviours and attitudes: moving from harmless material to more extreme visuals, a strong belief that porn films are realistic and portray real sexual encounters, and attitudes that sex is only casual. Children  will not understand that sex should be an act that involves respect, mutual consent, love, and a strong desire to mate.
  • If children’s viewing habits restrict them from participating in other activities, their browsing history includes violent porn, child pornography, or other objectionable content, they share unsolicited pornographic material or naked selfies with other people, then they need some support and guidance. Talk to a professional on how to handle the behaviour.

When you find out that your child watches porn, it is imperative to talk about consent and permission.

Parents cannot dismiss their children watching porn as just something kids do. At the same time, it doesn’t help to go ballistic either. Forget the “This is not our culture” talk. India has one of the highest porn viewership numbers. The culture bit obviously hasn’t sunk in. Instead, focus on practical discussions on human sexuality, respect, and human trafficking.

  • Taking away your kid’s phone or laptop for looking at porn could encourage them to not  talk to you about difficult issues in their life and completely hide what they’re doing online. Instead of instantly banning their access to technology, talk them through an age-appropriate sex education book that can guide your conversation.
  • Sexual curiosity is a natural part of a child’s development. Therefore, acknowledge their interest calmly and reassure them that they aren’t “crazy” for having questions about sex, nor should you shame them for viewing porn. Let the child not feel embarrassed, ashamed, upset, or afraid to have a healthy discussion with the parents.
  • Discuss how porn is unrealistic, with paid actors and actresses and situations that bear no resemblance to real relationships.
  • When you find out that your child watches porn, it is imperative to talk about consent and permission. Tailor your discussions based on the child’s age,  whether she is a tween or a teen.
  • Educate your child on human trafficking and how women and children are victims of illegal porn videos.

Communication is vital, shame is detrimental, and boundaries are essential for kids. Parents must take the opportunity to talk lovingly and calmly with their kids to get them to understand why you don’t want them to watch porn.

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