Talking to young people about pornography online
Online pornography can be images or videos online of naked adults, adults having sexual intercourse, or showing sexual behaviour. Some people may enjoy looking at or watching these for pleasure. Pornography, both online and offline, can influence how they think about sex, relationships and their own body image.
It’s important that we talk to children about the sexualised content they see, including online pornography, to help them interpret and critique this information and to help them develop healthy and positive attitudes towards sex, relationships and their own body.
Tips for parents and carers
Have age appropriate conversations
You can explain that there are some things online that are for adults only and that if they ever see anything that worries them online that they should come and tell you. Make sure they know to always tell you if anyone ever shows them a picture of a naked person, or if anyone wants to take a picture of their private parts.
The NSPCC Pants Rule is a great way to start a conversation about private parts of our bodies.
Give your child strategies for dealing with anything inappropriate online
It can help to give your child strategies for dealing with any online content they are not comfortable with – such as turning off the screen, closing the laptop lid or turning over the tablet or phone and then coming to speak to you.
Make sure your children know they can turn to you, even if they have viewed something on purpose
If they do tell you they have seen something inappropriate, don’t panic. Reassure them they’ve done the right thing, turning to you. It may help to practice what you would say if you found out, or if your child told you, that they had seen something pornographic online. Be prepared that it may prompt questions about sex and relationships, and it is important to answer questions in an age appropriate way.
Make use of parental control tools
With young children, we recommend that you make use of parental control tools available. These can be applied at device level or the platform and from your internet service provider. See our guides for setting up parental controls.
Be aware that parental controls are never 100% effective, but they do help limit the chances of your child being accidentally exposed to pornographic content.
Advice for educators when teaching about online pornography
Follow school policy
Follow school policy
Always follow your school’s policy and ensure that you have appropriate parental consent.
It is important to remain non-judgemental and open when discussing sensitive topics like pornography. Offer support and guidance to students by helping them to challenge the messages portrayed in pornography and understand where they can go for support and information.
Before talking about pornography with your students, explain to them that you will be discussing a sensitive topic, pornography, in today’s lesson and reassure them that: Everyone’s thoughts and opinions are to be respected; No one will be expected to talk about anything they do not wish to; No pornography will be shown during the lesson, or is expected to be viewed as a result of this lesson; There is no expectation that they will have watched pornography before or that they will have to divulge whether they have seen it before or not.
Educational resources about online bullying and kindness from the UK Safer Internet Centre and other organisations
Myth vs Reality: PSHE toolkit
Myth vs Reality, a PSHE Toolkit for 11-14s from Childnet explores the topics of online pornography, healthy relationships and body image.
Professionals Online Safety Helpline
The UK Safer Internet Centre’s helpline supports the children’s workforce with online safety issues
Pornography Age Restriction Concerns for Online Safety Bill
Since the Online Safety Bill was published, organisations and individuals have raised concerns over how pornography sites are going to…
Frequently asked questions about online pornography
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