justamama asks:

What should I say to my 8 year old son now that he was accidentally exposed to porn videos when his 8 year old friend showed him a porn website?

In Topics: Children and the internet
> 60 days ago



Jun 21, 2010
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What the Expert Says:

You may be surprised to find out that--although unfortunate-- this is not as uncommon an experience as you might think for children and their families.

As much as we (hopefully!) try very, very hard to control our children's Internet experiences, it is impossible to control it 100% of the time. In fact, even excellent parents, raising wonderful kids might find that a child is exposed to porn--sometimes because parental supervision was lacking, but on occasion for any number of other reasons. For example, did you know that is a porn site?? Neither did I until several years ago my child clicked on it while I was sitting right next to her!

None the less, now that your child has been exposed to pornography, you need to address the experience directly and use it as a teachable moment. The following steps should help you through a somewhat difficult time.

1. Remember that having open conversations about tough topics creates a bond between you and your child

2. Ask your child gently, curiously and with no criticism what she saw. She may be embarrassed, but explain to her that it's important for her to share it with you so you can help her understand it and not be scared. Try and find out how much she actually viewed. Some young children don't really process a lot of what they see, or even understand it.

3. Tell her that like TV and the movies, things on the Internet often aren't real and that that's true of sex too. Explain that sex in real life is gentle and loving and between two grown-ups who care about each other. What she probably saw was made up. If your child really viewed a lot, discuss that real-life sex is mutually respectful and that people treat each other well and never hurt each other; that what she saw wasn't real or what really happens in real life.

4. Be prepared for questions. Answer them as honestly as possible, but don't give too much information--especially if she was unclear about what she saw.

5. Speak to the other parent, if you haven't done so already. Do not be critical or judgmental. There is nothing to be gained from this. They may be feeling terrible already. If you assess that there isn't enough supervision in this home then don't allow your child to go there anymore. Otherwise, use your best judgment to decide whether this is a relationship that should continue.

6. Continue to look for signs that your child is still processing this experience over months--questions, comments etc.

Children are resilient and will have many adverse experiences in life. It is impossible to protect them from every one. Rather, it is the manner in which we help them to handle the experience that is most important!

Good Wishes and Great Parenting,
Dr Susan Bartell
JustAsk Expert
Twitter @drsusanbartell
NEW book "The Top 50 Questions Kids Ask"

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Additional Answers (1)

Laryssa5 writes:
Accidentally?  No, it was no accident.  Children should not be allowed on the computer without an adult present in the room!  Period!  WE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT OUT CHILDREN ARE EXPOSED TO!  I would discuss this with the other child's parents and explain that their son is not allowed to play with yours anymore.  This other child has evidentally been viewing this before.  He has been robbed of what little innocence they have left in such a society as ours and I would, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES, let him expose my son to anything further.  Your son will probably NOT like losing his friend, but he needs to learn that every choice we make has lasting consequences...if he complains that it is not fair, I would tell him, "Yes, it is not fair that you both caused yourselves to lose your freedom to play is such a shame that you chose to give up your freedom to play together."  Helping our children to accept their failures as THEIR OWN are not hurting them, but preparing them for the real world and life in the workplace.  

As far as explaining to him what he 'saw' is another matter.  I would be direct, use proper terminology for body parts, and explain that sex is supposed to be a beautiful thing between two married people, sharing your love for each other, and that some bad people try to take a beautiful thing and make it ugly.  Men who watch porn have twisted views of women.  It hurts them in their future relationships with prospective dates.  I would start working with him on ways to see the value in the differences in women and men.  Being diffferent absolutely does NOT mean better.  They each have their own special attributes.  I have more of a conservative worldview, however, yours may be different.  No matter what our views are, we should all teach our children to celebrate the way men and women are made diffferently.  I want my girls to know they can be feminine, yet strong...and my boys can cry at a movie if they want to.  lol  

There are many age appropriate books on teaching children about their changing bodies.  This would be a great place to start.  He REALLY needs to know that what he saw was degrading to both the women AND the men.  So sorry you are having to deal with such a horrible incident that happened to your precious little boy!
> 60 days ago

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