How and when to talk to kids about adult content on the Internet by Michelle LaRowe

Stay Calm

  • Whether you’ve been planning to have a talk with your child about adult content or the talk is sparked by a troubling search history, the best advice parents should follow is to stay calm. Freak outs, meltdowns, screaming, and punishment won’t strengthen trust between parents and children, and may only result in children being more fascinated with the dark underbelly of the Internet.
    
Children who have an open line of communication with their parents are more likely to discuss and be persuaded to limit or eliminate contact with adult content sites. Ask questions such as, “Have you ever accidentally found adult content on the Internet? How did it make you feel?” or “Do your friends ever look at adult content accidentally or on purpose?” By creating a calm dialogue that promotes communication and directness without using blame or anger, children can feel free to truly discuss how adult content makes them feel and what steps you would like them to do to avoid seeking that content out.

Emphasize Safety

  • Internet safety is a key talk that parents should be continually have with children. While parents may employ parental controls and security systems, unless children are continuously monitored, there is always the opportunity to access adult content, whether that be adult material, harmful websites, or child predators. It is fairly easy for a child to search for advice on how to defeat parental controls.
    Discuss with your child how to safely and securely use the Internet. Talk to them about not divulging personal information, being safe and careful when chatting to strangers online, and how to avoid harmful websites. Frequently talk to your children about online friends, how they know them and what they talk about.
    
As with many parenting conversations, there unfortunately isn’t a single thing you as a parent can say that will avoid any danger on the Internet. By starting and engaging in a frequent dialogue, parents can guide their children to avoid adult content and address its context on the Internet in an age-appropriate way.
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