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How to talk to your tweens about online porn

PUBLISHED: 17:38 31 October 2018 | UPDATED: 10:19 02 November 2018

Teenage boy using smart phone in the dark. Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Teenage boy using smart phone in the dark. Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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A new online programme advises parents how to talk to their tweens about online porn

As a new online programme is launched to combat the impact of online porn on tweens, we ask how parents can tackle the subject with their tween

Culture Reframed has set up a free online course for parents as concern grows childrens ability to easily access online porn in what has been described as the ‘public health crisis of the digital age’.

The parents of tweens course has been set up to combat parent’s state of panic and provides skills to help build a child’s resilience and resistance to hypersexualized culture and the impacts of pornography.

Parents are offered guidance on helping their child understand the implications of sexist and degrading images.and how to broach the subject without appearing judgemental or moralistic - about 53% of 11- to 16-year-olds in the UK have seen explicit material online, nearly all of whom (94%) had seen it by 14, a Middlesex University study found.

According to Childwise Monitor the majority of tweens (9-12) now own a smart phones – 59% of nine to ten year olds which rises to 90% of 11 year olds.

This means that most pre teenagers are able to have 24-7 access to social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat and can view pornography at the swipe of a button.

Middlesex University looked into the effects of porn on children. The research found that about 53% of 11 to 16-year-olds in the UK have seen explicit material online, nearly all of whom (94%) had seen it by the age of 14.

Commissioned by the NSPCC and the children’s commissioner for England, research found that many teenagers were at risk of becoming desensitised to porn - nearly 90 per cent of the most watched porn scenes contain violence against women.

The earlier a boy accessed porn, the more likely he is to be sexually aggressive, bully girls into sexting naked images, to develop erectile dysfunction and to struggle with depression and anxiety, the study also found.

Over three quarters of the children surveyed said that pornography failed to help them understand sexual consent.

NSPCC said that the study found that: “Children often feel ashamed, guilty or confused about what they’ve seen online and 80% of young people felt that age verification was needed for sites to protect young people from accessing adult content.”

UK Safer Internet Centre, Childnet and Internetmatters.org offer workshops in schools where online safety and online porn is discussed with children.

However, pupils at some schools are not offered digital safety classes or this issue is not discussedools either ignore porn or hardly mention it - therefore leaving kids to deal with porn culture on their own.

The course provides skills to help build a child’s resilience and resistance to hypersexualized culture and the impacts of pornography. Parents are offered guidance on helping their child understand the implications of sexist and degrading images.

Andrea Rippon is a Certified Parent Educator (www.parentingclass.co.uk), specialising in communication and relationship skills that will help families thrive. She is a mother to two teenagers and offers this advice to parents of tweens concerned about porn. ‘Have this conversation with your child – a stitch in time can save nine. Here are some pointers to help you on your way:

1. Remember yourself at that age – an interest in sex and relationships is perfectly normal and some kids look at pornography as a form of sex education. Even if their interest has moved towards becoming sexually gratifying, be very careful not to shame, humiliate, patronise or disrespect. Your role is to guide and influence, which means you need to be calm and non-judgemental. The better the relationship you have with your child, the more likely they are to listen and be influenced by you

2. Be prepared – get all the information you can by reading up articles in papers, magazines and on the internet. You might not use it all, but it will help you formulate what you want to say and how you want to say.

3. Ask permission - Raise the subject by saying something like ‘I’ve read some stuff on teenagers and porn (or it might be, ‘when I saw you watching porn’), I got loads of thoughts and I really want to hear your opinion. Can we make some time to talk about it?’

4. Choose a good time – undisturbed, one to one, in the car or on a walk. Firstly, reassure them that no one (them or their friends) is in trouble.

5. Don’t tell, ask –You know what you think; find out what they think by asking questions. Be careful not to make it an interrogation – keep it calm and conversational. What do you know about pornography? Do kids at school talk about it? Did someone show it to you? How did it make you feel? Ask them if they have any questions.

6. Influence (according to age/development) – use your knowledge to open up discussion about respect, loving relationships, dignity and consent. Try to cover the more difficult subjects of objectification, misogyny, assault and violence.

7. Guidance – together, think about making some rules for your family on how to use the internet at home. Talk about what caring, responsible relationships look like outside and in the home.

8. Thank your child – and let them know that you’re available to talk more, about porn or anything else, if they want to.

For further information on how to build a strong relationship with your tween go to www.parentingclass.co.uk

For more on how to build resilience and resistence in your tweens to hypersexualised pop culture and pornography visit parents.culturereframed.org

A new online programme has been launched to help parents talk to their tweens about online porn.

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