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28 October 2014
By Rebecca Avery

Childnet launch new resource to help parents and carers talk to their children about pornography on the internet

Today Childnet have launched a new resource to help parents talk to their children about online pornography. This resource coincides with a recent survey that found that just a quarter of parents say they have spoken to their child about this important issue despite a recent report from the Children’s Commissioner for England concluding that “basically porn is everywhere”. The poll of over 1,000 parents conducted by ComRes found that only 27% of parents say they have spoken to their child about pornography.

  • 42% of parents with a child aged 16-18 years
  • 43% of parents with a child aged 11-15 years
  • 23% of parents with a child aged 5-11 years
  • 13% of parents with a child under 5 years old

Childnet are encouraging all parents and carers to start an ongoing dialogue with their children about sexualised content online, and the resource shows how this can be done in an age-appropriate way.

For the youngest children, it’s about making sure they know they can turn to parents and carers with anything that worries them online; and that they know how to keep themselves safe by understanding appropriate and inappropriate behaviours. With older children, parents and carers play a key role in helping them to critically evaluate the things they come across – both online and offline – to help them have healthy relationships and attitudes.

Childnet, partners in the UK Safer Internet Centre, developed the resource after conducting a focus group with ambassadors from sexual health charity Brook. The young people shared how children are being exposed to pornography at increasingly young ages, but what matters most is how parents respond. As one young person said: “When I was 5 I had a friends’ older brother show me and my friend porn. That’s how I learned about sex, as my mum had to talk to me about it at age 5 and be like, “what you saw was this”. I don’t think it was a scarring experience at all but I think it was how she talked to me about it after that made it okay.

Will Gardner, CEO of Childnet and Director of the UK Safer Internet Centre, said: “It can be difficult for parents to face the fact that their child might come across pornography, but the reality is that pornography is relatively easy to find online, and children are being exposed at a younger and younger age. Parental control tools can help limit the chances of accidental exposure, but the most important filter we can give young people is the one in their head which helps them to critically evaluate the things they come across so they can develop healthy attitudes and relationships. We hear from young people that they want their parents to talk to them about these issues, and we hope this new resource gives parents and carers the confidence to start this conversation today.”

Simon Blake, CEO of Brook, said: "It's really important to talk to children and young people about sex, relationships and sexuality in an open and positive way from an early age. This includes tackling topics like pornography which can cause unrealistic expectations of sex, relationships, and anxieties about bodies. We need to provide real life information which shouldn’t be a scary prospect for parents and carers – as Childnet's resource demonstrates, this can be done in relevant ways. We all have a responsibility to help children and young people stay safe and enjoy being online."

The full resource can be accessed at Content adapted from content which appeared originally on Childnet's Blog here