Parents have always found “the sex talk” challenging. But it didn’t used to be the case that by the time they had the talk, their child had already seen things on TV and the Internet that the parents had never dreamed of at their kids’ age (possibly even as adults).
The first and most important step to revising “the talk” is to accept the reality that, at whatever level, sexualized images are part of a child’s world through all media avenues.
Here are some data points that may concern you:
- The average age of first Internet exposure to pornography is 11 years old.
- 9 out of 10 Children (ages 8-16) have viewed pornography online.
- Children aged 12-17 are the largest consumers of internet pornography.
- When a child is exposed to pornography, their underdeveloped brain becomes psycho-pharmacologically altered.
- If a child looked at one pornographic web page every 10 seconds, he would be 937.155 years old when he finished looking at all the internet pornography that exists today.
Rather than learning how to understand their own bodies and how to relate appropriately at each childhood developmental stage, our children are exposed to sexually explicit images and often pornography as their first encounter with sexuality.
In a study of 600 American males and females of junior high school age and above, researcher Dr. Jennings Bryant found that 91 percent of the males and 82 percent of the females admitted to having been exposed to X-rated, hard-core pornography. Over 66 percent of the males and 40 percent of the females reported wanting to “try out” some of the sexual behaviors they had witnessed.
What can a parent do?
Start with a few (non-judgmental) questions.
Have you ever seen porn on the Internet?
How do you feel about it?
Do you have any questions about what you saw?
Keep in mind, they may have seen things that trouble them or confuse them. Just as likely, they may have seen it, shared it and simply laughed about it.
Be factual, not emotional. Start talking to your kids about their bodies at each developmental stage.
Lay out the potential problems from constant exposure our hyper sexual media messages which does create unrealistic expectations about body image, gender role types, and sexuality. Viewing Pornography is a highly addicting behavior and can become so important that it shuts out other parts of life.
Remember, a conversation will be much more helpful than a lecture. Your children live in a brave new world. They not only need your help to navigate the challenges, they want it. They really really do.