What Are the Chances My Child Will See Porn Online?

When I speak to parent groups at schools and churches, one of the steps I recommend is to have them list every way in which their children can access the Internet. The reason for this exercise is that if it’s done thoroughly, parents quickly see that it’s a long list. Don’t forget Grandma’s house, the bus, hanging out after cross country practice, at four different neighborhood homes where they hang out, etc. You get the picture.

After creating this long list, parents should realize that they do not control a significant number of online doorways, which dramatically increases the risk that their child will see something inappropriate online.

In the digital age, it’s not a matter of IF a child will see something inappropriate, but only a matter of WHEN.

It’s naïve to parent a child as if you can prevent every possible inappropriate exposure. I’m not saying don’t try, I’m just saying that in my experience, the kids who navigate the digital culture successfully as those who have the tools to know what to do WHEN they see something inappropriate.

Does this mean that I talk to my five-year-old about pornography? Don’t use the word “pornography” with him, but he definitely knows what to do when he sees something inappropriate, and review the steps with him often.

Naturally, parents ask me, “so, what is the right age to talk to my kids about pornography?” My answer typically goes like this, “I don’t know your kid, but I bet it’s sooner than you think, and sooner than you’re ready.”

A 2015 study performed by student in the Behavioral Science Department at Utah Valley University surveyed 238 women and 132 men representing 17 countries and 41 states. The average age of the respondents was 35.7, and the average age that they were exposed to pornography was 9.66 for the women and 9.95 for the men. Remember – their exposures to porn were before the prevalence of Wi-Fi and smartphones!

Does this mean every 10-year-old is ready to have a conversation about porn? Probably not 100% of them, but most of them are ready. Would you rather they hear it from you or from the 8th grader on the bus? If the conversation is done properly, in the context of a loving conversation where you explain not just why porn is bad, but why real intimacy is good, then you are giving your kid the right tools to survive in a pornified world.

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