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Pornography

Parents are often concerned about their child’s access to the internet and how they can keep them safe.

Introduction

The internet can be an extremely useful tool in supporting the education of children with intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder. As you journey through Planet Puberty, you’ll find that there are a lot of strategies that involve utilising tablets, phones, YouTube and other different digital platforms to assist your child in things like communication, visual scheduling and creating social stories. Internet connected devices can also be a much-needed support for parents, especially when you want some private time or when your child wants some entertainment! See Self-Care.

Parents are often concerned about their child’s access to the internet and how they can keep them safe. One of the most common concerns parents have about is how to protect their child from seeing pornography and how to support children who may have been exposed to pornography online. This can be a particular concern for parents of children with intellectual disability or autism spectrum disorder who may have trouble processing what they have seen and who may fixate on a specific topic.

Find below answers to the common questions that parents have asked about pornography.

We also recommend checking out the resources from the eSafety Commissioner about online pornography for some great videos and factsheets to support you and your family https://www.esafety.gov.au/parents/big-issues/online-pornography

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Pornography isn’t always accessed directly through porn websites or explicit searches. Pornography also may not always be image based and may include explicit or sexualised language.

Your child may encounter pornography through:

  • image sharing with peers over text and social media including Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook
  • searching terms they may have picked up from peers like “boobs”, “sex” or “naked people”
  • videos recommended by YouTube or linked on webpages
  • YouTube videos or games that have been edited with a pornographic/violent version
  • clicking on spam links or links appearing in otherwise innocent search results, emails or social media posts
  • clicking on links that appear in the chat functions of games, for example, Discord, Roblox and Minecraft

Sometimes it might seem impossible to avoid pornography on the internet. It’s important to make sure your devices and social media accounts are up to date with privacy settings and parental controls to ensure that your child is able to access the internet safely. Check out the Cybersafety page for more information, strategies and resources.

Keep in mind that if your child is over the age of 18, they can legally access and view pornography if they choose to. They will need to understand where it is appropriate to view pornography (that is, in a private place only) and the laws about pornography. We recommend checking out the SECCA ‘Sexuality, Relationships and Your Rights’ resource for easy English information on pornography and the law https://www.secca.org.au/resources/sexuality-relationships-and-your-rights-resource

You may find in your internet browsing history that your child has been searching sex related terms. This is OK. It is very natural for children to be curious about sex and nudity, especially as they enter puberty. Your child may also come to you if they have accidentally seen something online that has made them feel confused or upset.

If your child has been accessing pornography online or through social media, it’s a good idea to communicate with them about it. Here are some tips about communicating with your child about pornography:

  1. Stay calm

While talking about pornography with your child might make you upset or angry, it’s important to stay calm so that your child can feel confident in communicating to you about what they have seen.

  1. Assess the situation

Whether your child has accidentally come across pornography or has looked it up themselves, try to communicate with them about the situation and how they are feeling. Some questions you might ask are:

  • how did they find the image?
  • did anyone show it to them?
  • how do they feel about what they saw?
  • do they have any questions about what they saw?

Your child may be confused about what they saw and may have trouble processing their feelings about it. This is normal.

  1. Reassurance

Children may increase and hide behaviours when they are afraid of being punished. Reassure your child that they are not in trouble while communicating about this topic.

  1. Educate

We know that pornography depicts a wide variety of concerning behaviours. It is important to communicate with your child about the differences between pornography and real life to avoid harm to their sense of self, their ability to develop and maintain relationships and their mental health.

Topics to consider communicating with your child about include:

  • asking and receiving consent
  • importance of intimacy and close relationships
  • body image and diversity
  • the difference between acting and real life

Check out the link below from the eSafety Commissioner about ways to talk about pornography at different ages.

https://www.esafety.gov.au/parents/big-issues/online-pornography

If your child becomes fixated on pornography, you may want to enlist the help of a therapist or support service.

Obsession or fixation on any topic can be distressing for both your child and your family, however it is not something you have to deal with on your own. Click <here> for a list of referral and support services in your area

Conversation Starters

Have you ever seen something on the internet that made you uncomfortable? Do you want to talk about it?
I heard something on the news about porn on the internet – do you know what that word means? What do you think it means?
Do you know how to tell if someone is acting? What might they look like? o Did you know that porn is acting? Porn is not real life.

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Introduction to puberty for girls
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