At this point, the average age of an individual at their first exposure to pornography is during their early adolescence or early teen years. At this time the brain is learning it’s first expressions of sexual desire and coping with new demands of life. There’s a combination of factors that contribute to the amount and frequency of pornography viewing by each individual, so if your child is viewing pornography it doesn’t mean they’ll become a full-blown addict. Understandably, though, you’ll want to take some steps and engage them in conversation. It’s important to remember shame and fear often accompany pornography viewing. Your child has a developing brain that doesn’t understand how pornography viewing is shaping his or her brain structure thereby shaping brain function thereby shaping personality, attachment, emotional regulation, etc. They didn’t click a certain link with the intention of creating a compulsory behavior, or with knowledge of statistics on pornography viewing. When you’re speaking with them and confronting them keep in mind the developmental stage their brain is in.
The adolescent brain is drawn to novelty and is often impulsive. Their minds also can’t think logically, linearly through a situation the same way an adult mind can. That being said, here a few tips about having a conversation with your child about pornography.
- Listen first. Ask about their feelings and thoughts before viewing, during viewing, and after viewing. If their talking goes off the topic of pornography, keep listening. Problems at school or at home may be connected. If you’re not listening, your child may jump to the conclusion that you’re not interested in their experience.
- It may be helpful to have a conversation while engaging in some other activity. Playing an
uncomplicated game or working together on a project allows for your child to focus in on the
activity if feelings of shame or other negative feelings become too intense. Then when they’re ready they can re-engage in conversation.
- Communicate and brainstorm with your child about steps to take to block and limit access to pornography. Online software such as Covenant Eyes can be helpful. Another resource is
- If the viewing persists, consider speaking to a therapist.