Parents encouraged to talk to children under nine about pornography

Young people want parents to address these issues before letting children use smartphones or social media accounts (Image: Getty Images / Tetra images RF)

Parents should start talking to their children about online pornography and sex ring when they’re nine or ten, Britain’s Children’s Commissioner has said.

Dame Rachel de Souza said parents shouldn’t wait until their kids are in their teens and discuss the topic before they’re handed over to smartphones or social media accounts.

There is growing concern about the ease of access to online pornography for young children, who often browse the internet unsupervised and are exposed to material that represents degradation and violence towards children. women.

The issue came to the spotlight after the pop star Billie Eilish describes how she has endured nightmares after being watched ‘abusive’ porn since the age of 11.

The 19-year-old singer told radio station SiriusXM the experience ‘destroy my brain’.

Dame Rachel’s office has created a guide for parents with the help of young people.

Billie Ellish recently said watching porn at the age of 11 ‘destroyed’ her brain (Image: Matt Baron/REX/Shutterstock)

She said the message for 16- to 21-year-olds was ‘speak early’ and ‘speak often’.

“You might be surprised how early our young people feel parents need to start the conversation,” she says.

‘But children want an age-appropriate conversation that evolves over time in line with their growing maturity.

‘My advice to parents and carers is to create a pre-crisis culture. Children have told us that they want their mom and dad to create a safe, judgment-free space for them to talk about these issues.

‘Better to do it before you run into a problem than to try to create that mood while you’re working on a problem or later find out they can’t tell you.

‘It takes a lot of courage for a child to share an experience of abuse or harassment. Parents and caregivers are telling me they want to match that courage to understand these issues. ‘

It comes after thousands of testimonials were posted on the Everyone Invited website earlier this year, with some students accusing their schools of not addressing the “rape culture”.

In June, an Ofsted review of safeguards in schools concluded that sexual harassment had become ‘normalized’ for pupils – and inspectors were told that Boys are sharing ‘nudity’ with each other like a ‘collection game’ on platforms like WhatsApp and Snapchat.

De Souza’s guide highlights the gap between what parents think and the reality of their children.

Only a quarter of parents believe their children have viewed pornography online, but in fact, more than half of 11- to 13-year-olds say they have seen pornography, many by accident. .

Some of the top tips for 16-24 year olds in the guidebook include not letting porn become a ‘taboo subject’ and instead keeping conversations ‘normal’.

How to talk to your kids about online pornography

The UK Children’s Commissioner’s new guidance has been developed in consultation with children aged 16-21.

Here are some of their top tips on how to prevent kids from being exposed to pornography and talk to them about it.

  • Apply adult content filters to your child’s and family’s devices. This is the best way to prevent them from stumbling upon pornography that is too young.
  • Keep it normal. Find daily opportunities to talk about porn in an age-appropriate way. Don’t let pornography become a ‘taboo’ topic.
  • Rest assured about the confusing emotions your child may feel after viewing pornography.
  • Banning your teen from watching porn is not always the best response. It may make your child less likely to look to you for help/consultation. Explain clearly and calmly why viewing adult content too young can be harmful.
  • Be prepared to challenge opinions that may arise when viewing adult content.
  • Reinforce the message that sex and the body, as depicted in many pornographic films, are unrealistic. Explain that porn can make things like non-consensual sex seem “normal” or “okay” but it’s not

You can Read full instructions here

One youngster said: ‘I feel the best time for parents to talk about porn is a little earlier for boys than girls. In my experience with boys, they definitely watch porn earlier than my female friends. I mean like the top: year 4, year 5, year 6.’

Parents should not ‘jump to conclusions’ if they discover their child has sent or received nudity and they should ‘calmly’ talk to their child to try to understand why the image or video was shared , follow the instruction.

It suggests that parents should start telling their children about the ‘risks of sharing pictures’ when they first let them use their phones, and that they should explain to their children ‘early’ that they may be sent nude photos.

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Huynh Nguyen

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