by Gail Poyner, PhD

Reducing Access to PornWhen parents discover that their child has been viewing pornography, it can feel devastating. That’s completely understandable. As a psychologist who treats adults and children who are struggling with pornography, parents almost universally ask, “What do I do?” My answer is the same every time: PREVENT ACCESS!

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Gail Poyner, PhD, Licensed Psychologist

The longer a child continues to view pornography, the more entrenched it becomes in their mind, so the first step is to prevent further access to it as much as possible. I recommend a simple but useful way to start what will be only the first step in attempting to keep a child from viewing pornography.

I call it the “who, what, where, when and why” approach. I recommend that parents lovingly and calmly question their child to find out the following information.

The 5 W’s of Porn Access

Who: Is there someone who exposed the child to pornography? If this person can be identified (very often it’s a friend), it’s important to intervene in their time together, as well as alert a parent or caregiver who may have influence over that person.

Two boys watching smartphone photosWhat: On what device is the child accessing pornography? It is essential that this be determined. Most kids access porn on handheld devices—like iPads or smartphones. However, many view it from laptops, video games, PC’s, television and movies (DVD’s). It’s absolutely necessary for parents to restrict any access to pornography. Continued access only strengthens the hold porn has over its victim. Make sure you have strong passwords on all mobile devices, computers and video games.

Where: At what location is the child accessing porn? Is it at home, a friend’s house, at school, the library? Discovering where the child is being exposed to pornography is essential to stopping their access to it.

Mother Catches Daughter Using Tablet Computer When Meant To Be StudyingWhen: Knowing when a child is viewing porn is, once again, essential to precluding access. Is it at night when everyone is sleeping? Is it during the summertime when children may be alone all day (studies show a huge increase in porn use during that time). Is it after school? Is it during a sleepover when the kids are unsupervised?

young boy thinkingWhy: There are many answers to this question, but children aren’t likely to know them. Here are a few whys:

  • Children are curious and they don’t have the skill to reject porn when they see it.
  • Peer pressure—kids may not understand how to say no to a friend who is exposing them to it. (For help on teaching kids courage, read this.)
  • Distraction from negative emotions—most adults report feeling drawn to porn when they feel bored, lonely, angry, stressed, or even tired.

The list can stretch pretty long, but helping a child understand some of the most common “whys” can help them deal with the triggers that often set the stage for porn use.

In our book Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids, we teach kids about the feeling brain and themom daughter reading GPBP thinking brain. A child’s thinking brain is immature and this makes it harder for kids to control their impulsive behavior. One of the parent’s roles is to act as the child’s thinking brain to protect them from life-altering dangers. Access to porn is one of those dangers.

Preventing access is just the first step, but it’s a powerful and necessary one in helping a child avoid the very real trap of pornography. Beyond using filters on devices and on the Wi-Fi at home, wise parents will find out the who, what, where, when and why of their child’s access to pornography and do as much as possible to cut off access to it.

Kristen Jenson
Kristen A. Jenson is the founder of Protect Young Minds and author of Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today's Young Kids. Kristen enjoys speaking, writing and anything else that will help empower kids to reject pornography. Kristen earned a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, and a master’s degree in Organizational Communication. Kristen currently lives with her husband in Washington State, where she enjoys growing a vegetable garden, watching Masterpiece Theater, and taking long walks with friends who tolerate her incessant talking about you know what. Above all else, her husband and three children are her greatest treasures.
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