Get Your Teen Magazine in your inbox! Sign Up
Logo
Get Print Edition

Boys and Porn: How (And When) To Start The Conversation

According to Gail Dines, author of “Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality”, the average age a boy first sees pornography is 11 years old. My son is 10, but he plays up, meaning many of his friends are older. I told my husband it’s time to talk to our son about what he will eventually see. Ew.

You may be wondering why I would put something this disturbing on my son’s radar? And there’s a chance he may not even stumble across porn for years. Here is my thinking:

Porn isn’t what it used to be. It isn’t where it used to be, either.

Today’s adult men used to find their father’s old Playboys in the garage. Today’s youth are seeing the latest envelope-breaking horrors over every laptop, phone, and iTouch in the neighborhood. The stakes are higher. Seeing a woman’s breasts in Playboy when you are little can make you squeamish. Seeing sexual cruelty, violence, and taboos at an early age could be life changing. The effects of watching pornography are there. Read this article, The Truth About The Porn Industry.

I am 99% sure my son would not tell me if he accidentally saw something pornographic. But he might tell me if we’d already talked ahead of time. Here is what I plan to say. Okay, what I plan to tell his dad to say.

“You know that some stuff on the Internet is good and some is bad. And some is very bad. When you were little, we talked about keeping your body private and about respecting your body and other people’s bodies. On the Internet, sometimes people don’t respect their bodies or other people’s bodies. If you ever see pictures of people who are naked, I don’t want you to look at them because they might make you feel weird. I want you to know you can talk to me about it. I won’t be mad, and I can help you understand if you feel confused by it.”

Nothing too overt, there, but enough that if (when?) he sees something disturbing he just might remember his dad telling him not to look and that he can talk to him about it.

Call me crazy, but I feel it’s our job to get to our son ahead of the trends so he knows we’re his source for information, not his friends, and not the Internet.

Michelle Icard

Michelle Icard is the author of Middle School Makeover: Improving the Way You and Your Child Experience the Middle School Years. Learn more about her work with middle schoolers and their parents at MichelleintheMiddle.com.