My Child Viewed Porn: What Do I Do?

Boy on computerShock. Disbelief. Anger. Disappointment. These are just a few of the emotions you may have experienced when you discovered that your child viewed pornography.

Twenty years ago, you had to go out of your way to obtain pornography. Today, it is accessible at the click of a button. More innocence is lost earlier and earlier in today’s world. Because pornography is everywhere, seeing it is difficult to avoid—indeed, overexposure is an issue for many. Greater exposure to sexually oriented media (e.g., soap operas, music videos, reality television) contributes to adolescents developing the impression that “everybody is doing it.” Kids can also develop skewed perceptions regarding infidelity, abortion, sexually transmitted disease, and divorce, among other things.

Most figures suggest that the average age of initial porn exposure is around 11, but there is research that puts the number closer to 8. Sexual objectification impacts the mental and physical health of our children. When girls are objectified, they are often not viewed as people with dignity. Research also suggests that there is a significant relationship between pornography consumption and violence.

So when you discover that a child has viewed pornography, how should you respond as a parent? How do you prevent recurrence of viewing?

Questions to Ask Yourself Before the Conversation

  1. What is your ultimate goal for the formation of your child’s sexual attitudes?
  2. What do you model in your own intimate relationships?

What Not to Do When Confronting Your Child

  1. Do not jump to conclusions or overreact. You want to be a healthy advocate for your child’s well-being.
  2. Do not express extreme anger. Acknowledge mistakes.
  3. Do not shame the child with your words or actions. This can lead to the child acting out in unhealthy ways as an adult.

Questions to Ask Your Child
Keep in mind that if the person who introduced pornography to your child was at least four years older, it may be an unlawful act. If you’re unsure, contact local authorities.

  1. When was the first time that you saw this kind of thing?
  2. Have you viewed it with anyone else?
  3. How often do you view it? (Frequency matters; desensitization and overstimulation can occur, which can lead to unhealthy coping and relationship patterns.)
  4. Just what, exactly, did you see? (Be a trusted confidant for your child. He or she may be embarrassed and confused, so be gentle and patient.)
  5. What questions do you have? (They may be embarrassed to ask.)
  6. Who or what may have influenced you?
  7. Do you understand why this matters and why I am taking this seriously? (Position yourself to be the child’s advocate.)
  8. Has anything in your home encouraged this? (Be open and not defensive.)

Prevention of Future Occurrences

  1. Behavioral modification: Know media-based triggers, and limit time online or in front of the TV.
  2. Develop a family mission statement of appropriate use of computers, social media, television, movies, and books.
  3. Cognitive modification: Teach your child a healthy view of sexuality.
  4. Emotive modification: Teach your child the emotional attachment that comes with a sexual relationship. More is caught than taught by parents, so guard your home and your hearts and minds. Parents are still the No. 1 influence in a child’s life.
  5. Know your kids and what they’re engaging with in their life. Set boundaries and monitor use of social media, books, etc.
  6. Use software and parental controls on all Internet-based devices.

© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Janie Lacy, LMHC, NCC, CSAT, therapist in Maitland, Florida

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • 5 comments
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  • Steve

    Steve

    May 14th, 2013 at 11:15 AM

    Well, you can’t exactly shield them from it today like you could decades ago. But you can’t bury your head in the sand and pretend like it didn’t happen either. This to me is a great opportunity to talk to your child about sex, and the healthy role that it can play in a relationship versus the smarmy ones that are generally seen in pornography. You can’t wash their eyes out with soap or think that the images or thr ideas that may have started forming will go away, but at least this gives you the chance to talk about it and get all of those questions and thoughts out there in the open.

  • donald

    donald

    May 14th, 2013 at 11:22 PM

    I remember my dad finding porn in my closet when I was 15…that was about 9 years ago.when he asked me it was very embarrassing.glad that he did not press for it but he gave me cues at other times that discouraged me from viewing porn…it was a good approach in my opinion and is something I may follow myself with my own children in the future.

  • Gardner v

    Gardner v

    May 15th, 2013 at 3:59 AM

    Kids are curious- they are going to find stuff that tries to answer their questions.
    I don’t think that anyone has been scarred for life by viewing porn once or twice, right?
    The real issue lies with whether this becomes a tool that they feel that they have to continue going back to over and over again. I think that this is where you would start to see problems cropping up.
    In my mind the ebst thing to do is talk about it, get it out in the open, and then let it go.

  • Sally High

    Sally High

    May 23rd, 2013 at 2:23 AM

    I agree that it is important to stay calm when you find out your child is viewing porn. Model to them that it is not acceptable and then step in and be more mindful of what your child is doing or watching on the Internet. It’s important as parents that we realize kids today have much easier ways through social media to watch harmful material such as porn. Don’t sit back and assume they know how to regulate themselves.

  • daniel d. c.

    daniel d. c.

    May 6th, 2018 at 7:03 AM

    I was only just started high school and was approached by another male student who told me about looking up porn on the Internet computer.
    What is the meaning of viewing PORN and who started the idea?

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