We live in a world where pornography is everywhere. It's on billboards, it's in magazines and it's primarily on the internet. It's so easy to stumble across it by accident, and with all the access your child has to the internet today, they've probably come across it once or twice too.
No matter how many passwords you put on your computer or how early you make your child turn in their phone at night, you can't shield them from pornography forever. So when you catch your child looking at it, or if you haven't had serious discussions about it, this is what you should do to help (or prevent) the problem (according to a marriage and family therapist):
1. Don't make them feel ashamed
When you talk about pornography, don't make your child feel like what they did was horribly wrong and they'll never be forgiven. It's important to make sure they know the dangerous side effects, but if you make them feel ashamed, they'll be less likely to talk about it with you in the future. Make them feel comfortable coming to you with any problems so you can help them through it without judgment.
2. Answer their questions about sex
It's totally natural for your child to feel curious about sex. It's your job to make sure they turn to you with their questions instead of pornography. It's so important for your children to get a healthy sex education, so when they have questions, answer them in the best way you can. It might feel uncomfortable sometimes, but hearing it from a trusted adult will prevent them from getting twisted views on sex.
3. Explain why pornography is harmful
If your child doesn't know why pornography is so bad, they won't have a reason not to look at it. You don't want to scare your child to the point where they won't even get on the internet, but they need to know that pornography damages relationships, changes the brain and can be highly addictive.
4. Don't freak out
When you open up your browser history and find explicit websites, your natural response might be to freak out, but don't do it. When you overreact and get upset, your children will never feel like they can come to you if they're having a problem. Make sure your child knows you're a safe place to talk about pornography problems and you're there to help them - not tear them apart.
5. Talk about it on a regular basis
As much as you'd like to never have the porn conversation ever again, it's something that needs to happen regularly. Continually ask your kids if they have any questions, ask if they've looked at pornography recently and explain why it's harmful. Keep letting them know that if they have a problem, you'll always be there to talk about it and help them through.
6. Ask about what they saw
It might be difficult for your child to describe exactly what they saw because they might not fully understand it themselves. Ask things like, "Did you see anything that scared you?" and "Is there anything you saw that was confusing?" These questions can open up the conversation and help your kids feel more comfortable talking about it.
7. Listen to your child
Again, the worst thing you can do when your child looks at pornography is have a meltdown in front of them. It's difficult, but when you actually sit and listen to their concerns and reasons for viewing pornography, you can truly help them overcome it.
Pornography is a touchy and controversial subject in the world, but overall, it's not great for relationships, marriages or families. Unfortunately, you can't protect your children forever, but having these discussions will help them along the way.