Porn Talk for Tweens

The age at which the average American child first sees live action porn is before 12! And that is a frightening thought! In the UK it's 13.37 for young men, which is still scary! Porn is not the same as most real sex, but kids don't know that, they don't have context for what they are seeing most of the time and assume it's reality. While some of it is fine for an inexperienced viewer, most of the stuff you can get for free on the internet is the worst kind, not to mention lacking the bad dialogue between bad actors, terrible "plots" and music one used to expect. That of course was sarcasm, but really, free porn is a different beast, and not just because of the lower production values. 

If your child has a framework and basic parameters to put the images they will see into, they won't be led to believe that is what they'll one day be expected to do. I would advise talking to your kids about porn before they get to junior high, which I know sounds crazy. Now I'm not telling you to show them any, or even to give detailed descriptions of sex, but a basic definition of what sex is, as well as what porn is, can be important to a healthy understanding that sex is supposed to be intimate, mutually agreeable, and respectful.

Sexual intercourse is the human (and other mammals') way of fertilizing eggs, define it as such; it's something they've probably heard about in school (fertilization not intercourse). Let them know that sex is not one but many different activities that involve the swimsuit zones and are explorations with another very special person things that make you and that person feel really good. Feel free to admit that sex feels good, lots of well meaning adults try to pretend that sex is not something good, or something that our hormones drive us towards very strongly. Sex can also be with mouths and hands as well as private parts.

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Porn on the other hand is a commercial product made for a specific audience. Porn is like a movie. I talk to kids about how cars in movies blow up in huge fireballs that launch them into the air, and actors pretend to be aliens. And like that, porn is full of things that aren't true to life and involve actors who are getting paid to play a role that isn't them. As adults we know that mostly the women are faking orgasm, and the men are on Viagra, but that's not what a young person sees. And porn is also made for men, they are still 80% of the viewers, so it is often all about male pleasure, and that again isn't how we want our kids of either gender to think about sex, as a one sided goal driven activity.

Also porn is about visuals, so crazy angles, positions, and personal grooming is a part of it. Brazilian waxes are ubiquitous in porn, but not actually the most healthy option for pubic hair. And helping kids to think about if someone isn't man enough to handle a little hair then maybe they're not ready for sex, might be something you want to address when they're in high school, but letting them know now that hairlessness may be natural for them (as prepubescent kids) but isn't natural for adults, and is in porn so that the video camera can better see everything. Group sex, anal, and fetishes are also widely depicted in free porn, and no I don't think tween is the time to talk about those things either. I would, however, mention that most of the situations are rare and strangely specialized, and not depicting "normal" sex, just as there aren't many movies with scenes of people shopping in grocery stores or folding laundry, as regular things often aren't very cinematic.  

So tell them porn is a product, and compare it to movies. And that although what the people are doing might be physically possible it's not making love. That real sex is about 2 people who care a lot about one another and is a very private, intimate sharing. Instilling that knowledge and contrasting it to porn which is a male masturbatory product, helps frame the discussion where you want it to be. 

Now if this is a conversation you are unable to have, look into getting your kids some books that can help introduce the subject for you, you'd be surprised what your local library has available to help. Because, no matter how careful you are, how many parental controls and firewalls you install, someone else's parents will not have been as diligent. Porn is more available than ever as technology is everywhere in our lives and their schools, and every day there are new apps to help kids get around filters or to hide the true nature of what the software enables. Set your kids up with truths so that if they see sexual images, they are more likely to come and ask you about them, or to scoff at their friend and display their wider knowledge and worldly wisdom, "that's not sex, that's porn, my mom told me about that." 

 

parentingAdrienne Dahms