Dealing with pornography

Getting help with pornography issues

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3. Frequently asked questions (Results)

My child has accidentally viewed pornography online

At this age, it's more likely your child has accidentally come across this content. Try to stay calm.

Our recommended steps are to:

  1. Talk to your child to find out how they are feeling and explain that this is not ok for them to see. Use this opportunity to tell them that they should always tell you if they see something that they are unsure of or that makes them uncomfortable. Avoid taking the device from your child as this can send a message they have done something wrong and they may not come to you in the future.
  2. Explain to your child that what they have seen is not real, it is entertainment by actors that is intended for adults.
  3. Review your privacy and filter settings on apps and games, and block access to the account it was coming from by using a parental control tool.
  4. Children in this age range may have viewed an older sibling's device. If this is the case talk to the sibling in an age-appropriate way and review your technology rules together. If your child has seen the content at a friend’s house inform the parents and discuss how supervision can be increased.
  5. Increase overall supervision of your child’s online activities and seek professional help if your child is distressed and struggling.

A peer has sent my child pornography

This is understandably very concerning for parents, however, try to remain calm and reassure your child that they are safe and not in trouble. It is important to ensure you fight the urge to remove your child's access to devices, as children will often interpret this as a punishment and may not come to you if it happens again. This is also a good opportunity to reiterate that there is adult content online, that is not designed for children, and to praise them for coming to you and reporting what they've seen if this is the case.

Try to find out how, where and why this happened. Often, children may be exposed to pornography by a school friend, and if this is the case it may be helpful to inform the school, or, if the exposure has happened at school, the school should be informed immediately.

Finally, ensure you check your child's device and remove any content that may have been saved, restrict and block any profiles that have shared this content, and engage parental control tools if you have not yet done so.

A stranger on a game or social media has sent my child pornography

At this age this can be rare, however, the sharing of explicit imagery with children can and does happen. It is important to identify the platform that this has occurred on and restrict your child's access with parental control tools and by utilising privacy settings.

It is important to record any evidence of this content being sent to your child, including any available profile details of the sender. Report the sender to the platform this occurred on, and where necessary speak to your local police about what has happened. Block or restrict the sender and have discussions with your child about not talking to strangers, praise them for seeking help, and ensure they know they can come to you with any issues that occur online that make them uncomfortable.

My child has shared pornography with their peers

Try to remain calm and explain that they are not in trouble, however, clearly state that this is not behaviour that is ok.

At this age, it is likely that your child is replicating the behaviour of an older sibling or peer, or they have come across this content inadvertently. Ask them where they came across this content or if this has happened before, and explain that this is not appropriate for your child or other children to view. Use this opportunity to reiterate what they should do if they ever see something online that makes them uncomfortable or if they are contacted by a stranger on a game or app.

Review your filter and privacy settings and block/restrict where your child has accessed this content by using the settings on devices or on online platforms, but also with parental controls like these. Consider having a discussion with them about intimate relationships in an age-appropriate way, and see out help from others such as your child’s teacher who may have helpful resources.

Depending on the content viewed/shared you may need to discuss this with the school and possibly the parents of the other child. If your child has viewed pornography regularly or is distressed seek help from a child psychologist. Then increase online supervision of your child.

3. Frequently asked questions (Results)

My child has accidentally viewed pornography online

It is important to understand that your child may have inadvertently come across this content rather than sought it out. Children are often unexpectedly exposed to porn by using an older sibling's device, seen it at a friend’s house, been searching out of curiosity, clicked a dodgy link or pop-up, or viewed something on a free games website.

Recommended steps:

  1. Try to remain calm and use this opportunity to tell your child that they should always tell you if they see something that makes them uncomfortable. Avoid taking the device from your child as they may not come to you in the future.
  2. Review your privacy and filter settings, restrict the game/app it was coming from by using a parental control tool and record and report any information you feel breaches the platform's community guidelines. Discuss your family tech rules and how to stay safe.
  3. Some parenting experts recommend ‘having the talk’ in this age range, discussing things like consent, love, intimacy and boundaries. Depending on your cultural and family backgrounds you may consider having this conversation in an age-appropriate way.
  4. Increase supervision of your child’s online activities.
  5. If your child is struggling seek out the help of a professional or from your child’s school.

My child is intentionally looking for or watching pornography

Try to remain calm and reassure your child that they are safe and not in trouble, however, your family rules strictly state that this is not something you believe is acceptable for children to be looking at. Despite the fact that they are young, it is important to understand that at this age, children can be curious about content that is not meant for them, and may occasionally seek it out to learn more.

The most important message for your child is that pornography is not real and, just like any other adult movie or content, is not appropriate for children to watch.

Try to find out how they were able to view the content, where they heard about it, or if there are other issues at play. Often, children will first hear about porn from older siblings or friends and this may have occurred outside your house or at school. If this is the case you should inform the school and alert any involved parents.

Ensure that your child cannot find any pornographic content on any devices in the home by deleting browsing histories, using privacy settings, and using parental controls to filter and block/restrict online content where necessary.

Teach your child how to block anyone that may have sent them inappropriate content, and discuss what is and is not safe to view online often. If your child is showing signs of distress seek professional help from a psychologist or your school counsellor.

A stranger on a game or social media has sent my child pornography

Try to stay calm and tell your child they are not in trouble and that they are safe. Explain that this is not ok for them to see, praise them for telling you, and explain that they should always come to you if they see something that makes them uncomfortable.

While it may be tempting to remove your child from the platform they have been using or remove the device, this should be avoided as they may see this as a punishment and not come to you in the future. Rather, restrict the settings to what is appropriate for their age, and teach them how to block people and content by using the features available on the platform and by using parental control tools.

If your child is playing a game or interacting with a stranger online who has sent this content, they may be grooming your child. You need to find out if this has happened before, review your privacy and filter settings, and record any information if you can about the incident and report it to authorities.

Some parenting experts recommend that at this stage you can ‘have the talk’, discussing themes like consent, love, intimacy, respect and boundaries. Depending on your cultural and family backgrounds you may consider having this conversation.

Increase supervision of your child’s online activities and seek help from your child’s school or a professional if your child is struggling.

I am concerned that my child is addicted to pornography

Try to remain calm and find out how and why they are viewing this. Your child may be curious about sex or pornography or may feel peer pressure to view this.

Recommended approach:

  1. Use this opportunity to build trust by talking to your child in an age-appropriate way about sex, pornography, violence and consent. Explain that pornography is not real, that viewing pornography can have negative impacts on our wellbeing, and that in your house, this is not something we watch. Ask them how they feel about your request, ensure they feel heard, however, ensure they know you are serious about the house rules.
  2. Increase online supervision of your child by setting up parental controls to filter/block this on any devices your child has access to and ensure that they cannot find this on other devices in your home (including clearing browsing histories).
  3. Encourage your child to participate in sporting or creative/other activities away from technology and to build friendships around these activities.
  4. If your child is displaying troubling behaviours seek professional help from a psychologist.

3. Frequently asked questions (Results)

My child has accidentally viewed pornography online

At this stage, your child might be playing games or interacting with strangers online via social media. Teens are often savvy enough to find or avoid pornographic content, so explaining that pornography is not a good way to learn about sex, and conversations around consent, comfort, body image, respect, and safety are important to have. Stay calm and non-judgemental while having this conversation with your child.

At this age, your child may start thinking about the online interactions and relationships they wish to have, and your conversation should encourage them to avoid pornographic content and seek out realistic and informed ways they can learn about relationships.

Review their privacy settings and filters, and acknowledge that while they are understandably curious about sex or relationships, discourage them from looking at porn. Let them know you can help them learn with other resources if they'd like to know more.

A peer has sent my child pornography

At this stage, your child should know how to use privacy settings on their devices, but it is a good opportunity to check that the filter and privacy settings are set up appropriately and that they know how to document, report and block the account this is coming from.

Try to find out if this has happened before and why this has occurred. If it has happened at school, it is important you report the incident to them.

Start conversations around online expectations and talk to your teen about pornography. Explicitly explain that porn is not real, the people are actors and they are being paid in the same way any other actor would be for a performance.

Conversations about consent, love and intimacy are recommended at this age, and when it comes to pornography what they see there is not real life. Discourage them from seeking it out and explain that viewing it can have long term consequences on their own relationships.

If they are curious, there are better places to learn about relationships, and explain that you can help them with that if they need more information.

If your child has viewed pornography regularly or if they are showing any signs of distress seek professional help from a psychologist.

My child is intentionally looking for or watching pornography

This can come as a shock to parents, however, it is important to remain calm, aim to find out where/how this has been viewed and alert other parents if it has been at a friend's house.

Your child would likely know how to avoid pornography so talk to them about why they have been viewing this, and how it made them feel.

Explain that pornography is not real and that it is not an accurate depiction of sex or relationships, that the people in it are acting. Talk about how they felt when they viewed it, and if they know how it has affected others they know. Establishing trust with your child and talking about consent, violence and intimacy is important at this age, and try to maintain a non-judgemental, yet educational approach.

Make sure that your child cannot find any pornography on any devices in your home, delete browsing histories and use privacy settings and parental controls where necessary.

Talk to your child about where they can go for help if they are exhibiting any troubling behaviours.

A stranger on a game or social media has sent my child pornography

At this stage, your teen might be playing games against strangers or interacting with strangers on social media. You need to get more details about what happened and if it has happened before to ensure your teen is not being groomed.

Have a conversation with your teen about the risks strangers could pose and unexpected ways they could be problematic. Don’t blame your child for what has occurred, and praise them for seeking help.

Review your tech rules together as well as family settings and filters, then report and block. Talking in an age-appropriate way in regards to pornography, consent, respect, comfort, body image and safety while remaining calm will help to build trust with your teen.

Further conversations should encourage your teen to avoid pornographic content and talk about how they feel about your request. Explain that viewing pornographic content can have long term psychological consequences. Discourage them from seeking it out and talk to the school counsellor or a professional if you need more support.

I am concerned that my child is addicted to pornography

It is important that parents engage in regular age-appropriate conversations about sex, pornography, consent and violence with the main message being that pornography is not real, that the people in it are actors and that viewing it can have long term negative impacts.

At this age, there may be peer pressure, they may be using pornography as a way to get more information about sex, or to be able to participate in topical group discussions.

Discourage your child from viewing pornography, and focus on discussions around how pornography can affect people, and what their thoughts are about that. Talk about the sorts of online experiences they should be having, with the overarching theme being safe, age-appropriate and positive exploration.

You should consider parental controls, and ensure that they cannot find pornography on any devices in the home. Encourage activities away from technology, that encourage healthy friendships and activities. If your child is showing worrying changes seek help from a psychologist.

3. Frequently asked questions (Results)

My child has accidentally viewed pornography online

Establishing trust with your teen and focusing conversations around consent and respectful relationships is incredibly important for teens of this age. It is natural for them to be curious about porn and intimacy, however, it is important to let them know these relationships are fictional and created for entertainment purposes.

Rather than viewing porn, engage your child in conversations about:

Respectful sexual relationships, sexual safety, consent, body image and intimacy. These factors are often missed in pornography. Talk to your teen about what this means for them and if they have seen how pornography has affected other people they know.

Clearly explain that pornography is not real and the people in the videos are actors, may be digitally altered and have surgical enhancements. It is fictional, dramatised, the actors are paid and the scenes may have had many retakes.

Teach them what disrespect, abuse, and violence looks like, and explain that these themes are not ok and can affect emotional wellbeing.

If they have viewed pornography regularly, help them to break down the complexity of what they've seen.

Where possible, discourage your teen from seeking it out, and talk about other reputable resources they could go to for help such as a counsellor or other support services in your community.

A peer has sent my child pornography

Your teen is nearing adulthood and will likely have their own perception of what pornography is, as well as its impact, given they will have likely viewed it before. They may resist your help at this stage, and conversations around and management of these issues can be tricky as your teen will want independence, and may not want to discuss these issues with you in detail.

Where you can, encourage them to take control by blocking this type of content and thinking critically about what they have previously seen.

The most important message to share is that pornography is not real. That this isn't what is expected of them in their own relationships, and not what they should expect of others. Conversations about consent, love and intimacy are important here as well. Stay curious about their thoughts on how they think porn may affect people or situations they know of. Discourage them from seeking out porn, and explain that it can have long term consequences on their own relationships.

Your teen's school may have a support person that you can speak to about how to handle this with the peer, as well as resources they can learn from if they need more information.

If your child has viewed pornography regularly or if they are showing any signs of distress, seek professional help from a psychologist.

My child is intentionally looking for or watching pornography

At this age, your teen will have a natural curiosity about pornography and will likely have seen it before.

While this can be an uncomfortable conversation, it is important to try to portray a non-judgemental yet educational approach, and reiterate the important message that pornography is not real, that the people in it are actors and that it is not an accurate depiction of consensual sex. Pornography is created for entertainment purposes and, just like other versions of adult entertainment, is depicted in more extreme ways than reality.

Teens, in general, may rebel against access to the online world being restricted or prevented, so it is more important to focus your energies on establishing trust with your teen and having regular conversations about their online experiences.

It is vital to discuss themes like consent, intimacy, respect and what they each realistically look like in real life. You may wish to talk about what is being reported in the community and the concept of viewing pornography being damaging to intimate relationships, and the potential for long term consequences.

Talk about where your teen can go to for support in your community, or another trusted adult other than you they can go to to talk. They can also use these resources for further information.

A stranger on a game or social media has sent my child pornography

Many teens at this stage think they can handle their own online lives, however, adult guidance is often needed even if it isn't wanted.

This is an opportunity to have a conversation with your teen to help reinforce how to protect themselves online. Try to find out if this has happened before and get as much information as you can in case you need to contact the authorities.

Teach your child how to record, report to authorities and block the offender. As this may be considered grooming, an investigation may take place.

Talk openly to your teen about respectful sexual relationships, sexual safety, body image and intimacy. These factors are often missed in pornography. Where possible talk to your teen about what this means for them and if they have seen how pornography has affected other people they know. Teach them that disrespect, abuse and violence are not ok and can affect emotional wellbeing, and that pornography is not real.

If they have viewed pornography regularly, help them to understand how they feel about it and do your best to stay curious and non-judgemental. Discourage your teen from seeking it out and talk about where else they can go for help such as a counsellor or other support services in your community.

I am concerned that my child is addicted to pornography

The main message your teen needs to understand when it comes to pornography is that it is not real, that the people in it are actors and that it is not an accurate depiction of enthusiastic, consensual sex.

Teens, in general, may rebel against being restricted from accessing online content, and doing so may have the opposite effect. Therefore establishing trust with your teen and having regular conversations about their online experiences, the meaning of enthusiastic consent, intimacy, violence, and, importantly, what "no" means.

Discourage your teen from viewing pornography and discuss how it can be damaging to their own intimate relationships and may have long term consequences.

Encourage activities and friendships away from technology. If your teen is addicted and/or displaying concerning behaviours seek help from a psychologist. Your teen may prefer to talk to another trusted adult without your involvement, guide them to where they can seek this support.