Ask a Sex Therapist: My Kid is Looking At Porn Sites

by Cay L. Crow

How To Talk To My Tweens About Sex?

Man and woman having discussion

Dear Cay,

Our 11-year old son, Brian, has been looking at porn sites on the Internet. The only reason we know this is because of the user activity history on the computer. When my husband first told me about this, I did not believe him. I thought it was a mistake. When I asked Brian about it, he initially denied it. Eventually, he did admit that it might have happened. My husband and I agree that it is time to have a talk with Brian. He is starting middle school in the fall. I am not sure where to start or what to tell him. Any ideas?

Mom with a curious son

Dear Mom,

Most kids like Brian who have had access to Internet porn since the early 2000's started their sex education in a less than desirable place. Add a new page to Brian’s sex education; what porn is and what it is not. Movies take life and blow it out of proportion. Porn does the same thing with sex; Brian needs to understand that porn is not how real sex happens. Express to Brian how you feel about him watching porn. If necessary, install a monitoring program that can prevent Brian from accessing porn sites. Just remember that he could probably disable it. Try not to shame Brian for his natural curiosity, instead provide him with factual information and guidance on how to navigate his transition through puberty.

Best Way To Teach Your Children About Sex

This isolated talk that you and your husband agree must happen is simply not going to be enough. Brian will need to know that he can talk with one or both of you about his concerns at any time. When he does come to you with a question, praise him for it so the behavior will continue. Before you launch into a long explanation following his question, first ask him what he knows. Hearing about his knowledge base will tell you where to begin and how much detail to provide. It may also help to ask where he learned this information. Keep your answers short and concise. Then ask Brian if there is anything else that he wants to know. Don’t be surprised if he stops you and says, “That’s enough, Mom!” He just is not ready for more information at that point. At any age, I think it is important for kids to know the correct terms for their internal reproductive organs and external genitalia. Preteen boys need to understand what to expect from puberty (body hair and odor, voice changes, growth spurts), and that it is all normal. Tell him about nocturnal emissions (wet dreams) so he is not frightened by the experience, if it happens. Discuss self-stimulation – that it is a normal private activity. It also helps to explain that all these physical and emotional changes are a temporary transitional phase before adulthood. So reassure him that the acne and the angst will pass. Take advantage of “teachable moments” such as a TV program using innuendo or referencing sex.

Brian will need your help sorting out his feelings of attraction. I hope that you teach him to treat his love interests respectfully – that involves learning boundaries, respecting personal space, avoiding objectification, and connecting with the person behind those lovely eyes.

And parents, it is perfectly alright to think that you don’t know much when it comes to sex. Trust me, you cannot screw this up unless you say nothing. Here is your chance to give your kid some guidance in an area where you might have had none.

A great resource for parents and teens is https://www.scarleteen.com/

And here is a link to an article entitled Talking to Kids and Teens About Social Media and Sexting: https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/news-features-and-safety-tips/Pages/Talking-to-kids-and-Teens-about-social-media-and-sexting.aspx

Cay L. Crow, LPC, AASECT-Certified Sex Therapist

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