What motivated you to start this conversation about Kids and Pornography?
I have 4 kids growing up in a digital world. I started out simply wanting to provide them with tools to navigate it all as safely as possible. But the more I researched and learned, the more I felt compelled to share with other parents. I realized we need to strip away the awkwardness surrounding the topic of pornography and have honest conversations with one another. After all, we will be stronger when we fight this battle together!
How do you suggest parents begin to discuss this topic in their own home?
The earlier parents talk to their kids about online safety the better. By age 5 or 6, many kids are spending unsupervised time on tablets, laptops or their parent’s phone. That means they are at risk for accidental exposure to pornography. By giving your child a very simple, age appropriate, definition of pornography and then a plan of what to do if they see it, you are giving them a better chance at staying safe online and even out in the world.
What tools can you share with Parents to empower them and be a step ahead ?
The most important tool at your disposal is maintaining honest, open conversation with your kids. Let them ask you any question they have, and make sure they know you are a safe landing place, rather than a reactionary, judgmental one.
You also need to make sure you are doing all you can to protect your kids while they are using screens. Enable all the safety controls on tablets, computers or phones they use, at your home or anywhere else. You cannot assume they won’t look things up. Kids are curious. Besides, accidents happen so easily. Like when your child clicks through a pop up ad on an age appropriate app and suddenly are confronted with porn. Make sure you have steps in place to protect your kids, like not using screens without your permission, enabling safety controls, and even using parental control software.
Lastly, continue to educate yourself. Be aware of what apps your kids are using. Find out if they are safe and if strangers have access to your kids through the apps. Consider the video games your kids play or the comic books they read. Pornography is often hiding in seemingly innocent places.
What has been some of the feedback from Parents that you meet that has either been challenging for you to hear and rewarding ?
Most parents are shocked by what I share about kids and exposure to pornography. They are also shocked by the danger porn exposure poses to kids. But once I provide them with tools to help protect their kids they feel empowered to make changes in their families and keep their kid from becoming a statistic.
I’m always saddened by the few parents I come in contact with who choose to keep their kids in the dark when it comes to pornography. The most common reason for this that I hear is they are afraid by mentioning pornography their child will become curious about pornography. I try to encourage parents to see that their child will hear or see pornography at some point and they should be the one to educate their child rather than google or a class mate on the playground. Sometimes they come around. Sometimes they do not.
How do we create and maintain a meaningful connection with our Kids so the communication is always open and honest?
One of the best things I have done with my own children to create and maintain open communication is by hiking together weekly. I know it seems such a simple answer, but I assure you, the connection is real and lasting. Being away from home and distractions, away from phones and out in nature, there is a greater opportunity for connection. Walking side by side, shoulder to shoulder rather than face to face, also encourages conversation. There is less awkwardness because there is activity happening and other places to look rather than into one another’s eyes. Making a habit of this activity means the kids are used to this time for talking about all kinds of topics, from the everyday to the awkward. It helps so much!
Do you have tips or exercise to share with Parents?
Creating a “porn plan” with your kids, and then walking through different scenarios with them is an incredibly helpful exercise.
What I do with my kids when we are all around the table, eating a meal together, having tea and cookies, or just talking, is to say, “hey, if you guys are at a friend’s house and he shows you pornography on his phone, what would you do?”
Then we walk through the scenario together. Everyone shares different ideas for how they would handle it. I remind them of our porn plan if they forget important steps. And I make sure to tell them again that they can always call me and say they need to come home. By bringing up these scenarios every month or so, they become less awkward to talk about, and they remind the kids what to do in an uncomfortable or even scary situation. This gives them power. They get to be in control and act out of that power rather than fear.
Where to find Greta Eskridge:
Email: [email protected]