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It’s natural to want to protect children from bad things…but that’s not always possible. Good parenting means guiding your child to launch into the world and to make wise decisions on their own.

This includes the digital world with which they interact online. There is plenty of wonderful content on the Internet that you are happy for them to access, but needless to say, there are some things that you hope they never see. No parent ever wants to discover their child watching porn. Unfortunately, many children are exposed to pornography: “50% of 11- to 13-year-olds, 65% of 14- to 15-year-olds and 78% of 16- to 17-year-olds reported having seen pornography in some way (shown/sent by someone else, searched for/stumbled upon it).” If your child is one of them, it’s important to know how to respond as a parent.

“Compose Yourself” if you discover your child watching porn.

“When kids see pornography or become regular viewers, or maybe even engage in self-production of child exploitation material…it is completely normal that parents will experience a huge range of emotions,” said Culture Reframed, an organization “building resilience and resistance to hypersexualized media and porn.”

You may feel like your eyes are going to bug out like in a cartoon, start talking a million miles an hour, get angry, want to tell yourself it’s not true, would prefer to do anything else in the world than talk to your child at that moment…alas, it’s in moments like these that you have the opportunity to compose yourself.

If you did stumble through this type of interaction with your child, know that you are not alone and that these are hard things to talk about. 

Culture Reframed has a great guide for you, in case your child is exposed to pornography, that is appropriately named, Compose Yourself. You can find the guide here.

Make sure your child knows you will not be mad if they have seen or do see porn and that you want them to talk to you.

If it is an accident, remind them that accidents happen and are safe to admit. Ask how it happened, how they r­esponded, and if they would do anything different next time. Come up with a game plan and tell them how proud you are that they had the courage to tell you. Most times, when you discover a child watching porn, they didn’t go looking for it; they stumble upon it by accident.

Also, consider sharing that if they have looked for porn intentionally, they will not be punished and you will want to talk about it. Everybody makes mistakes.

Curiosity about sex is natural, and removing shame, even if you want them to have a healthy guilt for what they have done, will create a safe space for healthy conversation in the future. It is far better that they will continue to turn to you instead of their friends and the Internet for advice and with questions.

Talk with them about the dangers of pornography and about how viewing it will damage their future emotional health, affect their relationships negatively, and change their brain.

Be normal, even when it doesn’t feel like that’s the easy thing to do when you discover a child watching porn.

Talking about pornography will likely always feel uncomfortable, but as you continue to engage in difficult conversations, it will feel safe to do so, even if it’s awkward. There might be a level of discomfort, but there should be no shame or shock factor if they have questions. Proactively encourage your children to ask you anything.

Everyone responds to uncomfortable situations differently. Think about how you and your children struggle with difficult topics and what makes those conversations easier, no matter how challenging the content. Approach the conversation of being exposed to pornography in the same way.

Technology without anxiety

Giving a child a smartphone, tablet, or computer includes giving them access to all the content ever created and ever put on the Internet. But with Canopy, that doesn’t have to include porn and explicit content, taking away the worry that your child may be exposed to things that you don’t want them to see. And adding a parental control app to the devices in your family doesn’t have to be stressful, either.

Our artificial intelligence can remove pornographic images and videos in real-time, creating a safer Internet experience for your family. Sign up today to begin your free trial.

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