Editor’s note:   Parents of daughters this is also for you.  Women’s pornography issues are on the rise.

Pornography is pervasive on the Internet! Just look at these statistics from internetsafety101: 12% of all Internet websites are pornographic.

  • 1 in 8 Internet searches are pornographic.
  • Children see porn on average at 11 years of age.
  • 4 out of 5 teens (16-year-olds) regularly access pornography online.
  • 79% of pornography viewing is occurring in the home.

When pornography is discovered on a child’s device, I recommend the following guidelines.

1) Remain calm!  This could be an honest mistake as 7 out of every 10 youth accidentally come across pornography online (wrong click on a pop up, innocent words and misspelled words that lead to porn sites). Have an open conversation about it, ask open ended questions and withhold judgment.

2) If we discover that our expectations were not clear to our children, then we need to clearly communicate our expectations about pornography, sexting (texts can appear as coded acronyms, see glossary of texting acronyms), cyber bullying, connecting with strangers, and posting of private information. A single conversation with all family members, followed by posting expectations on the fridge door and near all internet devices is sufficient.

3) We need to create a home environment that empowers children toward success and provides accountability.

For example:

  • No computers/tablets/Wi-Fi T.V.’s/smartphones in bedrooms.
  • No surfing the internet alone or late at night when everyone is sleeping.
  • We (the parents) have the passwords for all our children’s online accounts and screen locks.
[tweetthis]For peace of mind, consider using monitoring software that runs in stealth mode[/tweetthis](not visible to your child) on your child’s mobile phone (click for software reviews) and home computers. The monitoring software should be capable of sending email alerts to you and capable of monitoring texting apps, social media apps, and all browsing activity.

As age appropriate, I do not recommend blocking software or parental control software because we need to provide an open environment where our children can practice being wise and responsible under our roof. The more they practice at home, the more likely our children will succeed in unregulated internet environments.

What if there is a repeat offence or an ongoing pornography problem?

My answer? Turn this problem into a valuable teaching opportunity. Below is one approach that has worked well with my clients.

When your child is out of the house or asleep, take away all devices (mobile phone etc.) and password protect all the family computers. When asked, “Where’s my phone?” Respond, “It’s gone because our posted rules were violated. But, the good news is that you can earn them back by writing a paragraph explaining why pornography is unhealthy and what you are going to do, so that this will never happen again.”

When it is submitted and is satisfactory (note the difference), the memorable teaching moment occurs. You announce, “Now, all you have to do to earn back your devices is to write out this paragraph 200 times. When 200 copies are submitted to me and verified by me, your phone and other internet privileges will be returned.”

What we are doing here is making the experience memorable to our children. The more memorable it is, the less likely it will be repeated again in the future. And if it is repeated, we can make the experience even more memorable such as having a child write out a new paragraph 500 times! If you have more than one child, you know that each child is different. One child might be convinced to never view pornography again with 50 lines, yet another child may need all 500! Keep in mind the end goal – each unique child having the self-control to resist digital temptations: like pornography.

One final point, I’ve seen clients’ children (the tougher cases) test this and go 6 months without electronics! After 1 or 2 of these memorable experiences, children generally learn how to be responsible without restrictions, and the problem with pornography is often solved!

Good luck.

Written by Steve Blakely

Steve Blakely

Steve is a certified parenting coach, author, speaker, and the founder of Parenting with Leadership. In the field of parenting professionals, Steve’s approach is unique: effective leadership implemented by a parent can resolve 80% of the common behavioral problems of children and teens, including disorders such as ADHD and ODD.