Tips for talking to your kids about porn

Important issues for important ages

by David Wever, MFT

Today the Computer is a household staple. Kids of all ages are experiencing various aspects of what computers and the internet have to offer. Kids begin at an early age using the computer and if we are going to protect our kids from internet predators, pornography, and other dangers we must understand the characteristics, and development of our kids. We must put measures in place to keep them safe. Communication at any age is the best way to teach your kids what you value and continuous talks as they grow older about sexuality will only enrich and educate your kids thereby equipping them to deal with whatever they may encounter on the computer.

Preschool

Many preschool aged children are computer savvy. With the increase of games, and products for this age bracket statistics show preschool online activity is at an all time high. Preschool kids love to discover. They are active and love to touch and feel everything. Kids this age are enthused by the sounds and images the computer can generate. They can easily view an unwanted pop up or move from an appropriate site to an inappropriate site through hyperlinks. Kids in preschool can become afraid easily if they are exposed to realistic portrayals of violent behavior. Preschoolers beg to spend time on the computer and with parents help the computer can be a great resource for learning and discovery for them.

Safety Check

  • Use kid friendly sites
  • Investigate internet-filtering tools
  • Begin teaching about privacy
  • Sit with them and watch everything
  • Use a pop up blocker

Early Elementary (K-3rd)

Early Elementary aged kids are eager to please. They love their teachers, trust others and love to talk and share. They are proud of their new reading and writing skills and don’t normally question authority. They may be scared of media images, both authentic and unreal. They still do not have the critical thinking skills to be left alone online. However, they are very skilled at using computers! They easily follow commands, use the mouse, and play games. They love to be online. They still depend on parents or siblings to help them find web sites and/or other information.

Safety Check

  • Oversee online activity
  • Bookmark favorite sites
  • No instant messaging, email, chat rooms or message boards
  • Use protective software
  • Communicate

Upper Elementary(4th-6th)

Upper Elementary aged kids are inquisitive and interested in discovering new information. They love their friends, and enjoy interactive activities. They look up to older kids. They typically have email address and also experiment with instant messaging and are curious about chat rooms and message boards. This is the age where kids typically begin to communicate with online acquaintances and become vulnerable to online marketers who persuade them to give out personal information through surveys, contests and registration forms. They still can be shaken if they are exposed to real depictions of violence. They are drawn to “popular” sites and desire to fit in.

Safely Check

  • Keep computer in the open (Only monitored chat rooms, reputable sites and message boards)
  • Discourage instant messaging
  • Share email accounts and make a list of internet house rules
  • Communicate (encourage kids to come to you before giving out information and talk with them about sexuality and pornography)
  • Use all filters, protective software and kid friendly search engines (kids this age can easily come across online pornography)

Middle School (7th and 8th)

Middle school is a time in a child’s life that tends to be rather acidic with the new exposure to other teenager’s and what is socially acceptable. Many early teenagers experience times of low self esteem due to this dense exposure to friends. This is also the time where sometimes the approval of friends is more important than the approval of parents. Kids primarily use the internet for leisurely activities such as downloading music, talking to friends whether it be through a chat room or some form of instant messaging, and playing games. They are extremely interested in building relationships. Boys at this age have a tendency to use the internet to test their limitations with their parents. They may push their boundaries on the internet by looking up undesirable websites and it is very commom for kids to begin looking up porn sites before they enter high school. Kids at this age are more likely to receive unwanted sexual comments online and are the most influenced by peer pressure and pubertly.

Safety Check

  • Make boundaries concerning the internet, and make them clear with your teenager.(no personal photos, personal info, and no meeting of online friends )
  • Keep computer in an open, public area of the house. (never put a computer in your child’s room.)
  • Communicate responsible online behavior.
  • Don’t allow your teenager to go into a public chartrooms.
  • Use blocking software to filter the websites your teenager may visit.
  • No financial transactions online without parent permission.
  • Use all protective software

High School (9th-12th)

This time in a teenager’s life continues to be rather dense with the new exposure to other teenager’s and what is socially acceptable. Older teenagers may use the internet to further their connection with friends, and may find it a relatively safe arena to interact with members of the opposite sex. The internet is often the forum of expression for teenagers; a popular example is through blogs like myspace. This is still the time where the approval of friends increases and the approval of parents may decrease. There is added pressure to be popular, cool, and to experiment online. Kids this age continue to download music, talk to friends whether it be through a chat room or some form of instant messaging, and play games. Downloading music occupies much of the reason teenagers use the internet. Boys at this age have a much higher tendency to use the internet to search out pornography. Unwanted sexual commentary is very common at this time through the use of instant messaging and blogs.

Safety Check

  • Make boundaries concerning the internet, and make them clear with your teenager.(no personal photos, personal info, and no meeting of online friends )
  • Keep computer in an open, public area of the house. (never put a computer in your child’s room.)
  • Communicate responsible online behavior
  • Don’t allow your teenager to go into a public chartrooms.
  • Use all protective software software to filter the websites your teenager may visit.
  • No financial transactions online without parent permission

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David Wever is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in California specializing in couples therapy, sexuality, sexual betrayal, sexual trauma, sexual compulsivity and addiction, depression, anxiety, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, and marriage and relationship issues. This article is reprinted with his permission from “The Expert’s Corner”on ThePornTalk.com.