How can I get to talk with my teenagers about porn?

12.02.2010

Question:

I am a father of two teenage boys, and I would very much like to have a good conversation with them about porn. I feel it is difficult to get started though, and I don’t know how they will react if I suggest we talk together on such a topic. Can you help me with some ideas?

Answer from Kids and Media's Director:

Dear father.
I think it is very wise and very relevant to discuss porn with our teenager children. At the same time, I recognise that it may be a challenge for many of us parents to get started. Perhaps it is harder for us adults to get started than for our children. Even though teenagers seldom express that they appreciate us parents initiating discussions on deeper topics, I still believe they do.

I suggest that you are open with your boys that you think it is important to discuss porn, but at the same time be honest about the fact that you feel it is difficult to get started. By this, you create an atmosphere of openness and honesty, and I believe those aspects are very valuable and important to ensure a good conversation. I also suggest that you give them good opportunities to share their own thoughts; Create a dialogue and not a parental monologue.

Some topics you could discuss:

  • How common would you say it is among your friends to watch porn?
  • Do you discuss porn with your friends?
  • What do you think about porn yourself?
  • What kind of attitudes and understanding does porn create of sexuality and male/female sex?
  • If you have a boy/girlfriend, how do you think he/she would feel if you were using porn?
  • The porn industry: Why do people (mostly men) create porn? How do you think it is to work as a porn model? How do you think the porn industry treats women?
  • Does personal porn consumption create a contribution and acceptance of the porn industry?
  • What changes has the Internet brought to the porn?
  • Is it possible to get addicted to porn? Why/why not? Example: If a person were watching porn several times a week for a whole year – how easy do you think it would be for that boy/girl to stop completely?

What is normal?
The Internet has made porn extremely accessible despite age; the porn content has expanded into extremes and niches. Porn is also flowing rapidly into the mobile media, as today’s and tomorrow’s mobile phones have many similarities with computers when it comes to screen quality and user options.

My personal opinion is that porn in general and specifically Internet porn is not suitable for under age children. The distance between online soft porn and hardcore is often just a click, and porn can be addictive. I believe porn is not an adequate source of information for minors seeking to establish their own identity including sexuality, and learn about how to respect and love another person.

Many teenagers are striving with questions like “What is normal?” and “Am I normal?”. Porn consumption can make it a lot more difficult to find healthy and reasonable answers to those questions.

It is easy to see how porn has influenced the online culture, according to our language, choice of nicknames, photos and videos being distributed through mobile phones and Internet.

I also believe that the porn industry is a twisted business, and I think it is impossible to discuss porn without raising critical questions about its origin.

Once again: I think it is very wise and very relevant to discuss porn with our teenage children. I believe you will have a good conversation.

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