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Thrive Therapy & Counseling provides high quality therapy to Highly Sensitive People and to kids, teens or adults struggling with anxiety, depression or self-esteem.

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This blog is written by a therapist in midtown Sacramento and focuses on the concerns and struggles of highly sensitive people (HSPs) and of kids, teens and adults struggling with depression, anxiety or just trying to figure out what they want for themselves.  There's help and hope through counseling and therapy!

Tips from a Child Therapist: Whaaat? I just found porn on my child's ipad!

Ivy Griffin

“Oh my God! I just found PORN on my daughter’s ipad! What do I do?!” More often or not, the first time parents discover porn on the screen of their child’s laptop, phone, or iPad—that knee jerk reaction hits. Thoughts of “he’s only 12!” or “why did she google that?!” Kids are curious creatures, and naturally, one day, they are going to want to know about sex. Children grow up now knowing that the answer to pretty much anything is just a click away, so it’s understandable that they would turn to the web to explore this whole sex thing--nevermind that teens and preteens can feel increeeedibly awkward talking to parents and adults about sex (and it can feel just as uncomfortable for parents too)! 

So, yes, curiosity and interest in sexuality are normal, even in the preteen years. Now, how do you respond? 

Here’s my recommendation for parents who discover their children are or have been watching porn: 

1)    Don’t trip, chocolate chip! It’s normal! Your child is not a weirdo—so don’t freak out on him/her. In this day and age, the internet is a plethora of porn. Your child may have accidentally stumbled on a porn webpage, or clicked on the wrong site. It is possible. But, it may be more likely that your child is seeking porn out—they may be drawn to it, may feel their hormones kicking in or may simply be trying to understand this mysterious thing called sex. Or, maybe their friends are talking about it at school, and they want to be ‘all-knowing’ too and take the plunge into the porn realm to figure it out.  

2)    Respond—don’t knee jerk. Once the panic settles, calmly and rationally think it through. Was it a wrong click and BAM—porn! Or was it multiple webpages of it, as though they had been actively seeking it? If so—think about your child and ask yourself some serious questions: How old is he? Have we had ‘the talk’ yet? Is it time for ‘the talk’? Chances are, it’s time for ‘the talk’ if she’s already watching porn on her iPhone. And, it can actually make talking about sex way less awkward if it’s something you introduce and set the tone by making it okay for your child to have questions or bring up.  

3)    Avoid judging your child. Curiosity doesn’t have to kill the cat on this. Keep a level head, leave strong emotions out of the conversation, and go talk to your child. Yes, that’s right, talk to them. Porn and sex are two completely different things. Many children (and some adults) don’t understand the difference. Porn is the movie version of sex—it’s glamorized and highly unrealistic. During your talk, start helping them understand the difference between sex and porn, and that porn is for ADULTS. Set boundaries with them and let them know what you feel is appropriate around porn. Try to stay away from making judgments or declarations—remember, the more strongly you tell your child they better “never, ever, ever” do something again, the more likely they are to do just that!

4)    “Let’s talk about sex baby, let’s talk about you and me. Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that maybe. Let’s talk about sex!” ~ Salt-N-Pepa song. That’s right moms and dads, let that familiar hip-hop song fill your brain as you sit down with your kids. Be open and honest in this discussion. Let them ask questions and voice their concerns. Sex is a part of life. Denying that it isn’t there, until they are googling for answers instead of asking you, is a mistake. Now if your child isn’t comfortable with asking you those ‘awkward questions’— buy a few educational sex books and let your kid know that you’re leaving them on the family bookshelf, in case they have questions. This gives your kid access to accurate info without the embarrassment of having to ask you.  

5)    Contact their school. Sex education is, unfortunately, not a required class in all elementary, junior high, or high schools. Ask if the school has an educational program for your children to learn about sex in a structured, open environment. Also, be sure to ask your school what kind of sex-ed they provide. Some sex-ed focuses on safe sex, no sex at all, or it’s religious-based. If you aren’t happy with their answers—educate yourself and then your child.

 Now take my tips, and talk to your kids! Educating your child around sex will take the mystery out of it and heck, you could even make it fun! Let them put a condom on a banana. Sing a little Salt-N-Pepa. Let them roll their eyes at you and laugh awkwardly, as you show them the books you bought for them. Be silly and be genuine. Bottom line: you want your children to be safe and have real knowledge around sex—not the porn version of it!!

By Arielle Grossman