How to Talk to Your Kids About Explicit Content

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I’m not a fan of sleep-overs. I prefer my kids to value their sleep as much as I do. Isn’t it better being fresh and ready for each day, rather than sluggish and out of synch with the world? Apparently not.

More importantly there are other issues like, ‘what movie will we watch?’ It may sound harmless; surely there’s nothing to worry about unsupervised young kids watching TV or internet movies late at night? A few titles were mooted, thankfully my daughter asked us about the titles. Mum checked them out on IMDB for parent information and was able to discuss the themes, action, and language warnings etc with our daughter. I was impressed when I heard she had decided she wouldn’t watch the film. The party in the end decided not to watch any film and instead do other, more social things. Good call.

It reminded me of an article I saw in the paper recently about a woman who had written a book to help schools, parents and kids discuss pornographic images they had seen on the net or TV. Here’s a grab from the article:

“Liz walker was only six years old when an older girl from up the street squashed in next to her on the school bus and excitedly whispered ‘Hey do you want to see something?” It was a Playboy she found under her brother’s bed and full of graphic pornography. ‘I felt this sense of disgust but also arousal’. Ms Walker remembers. ‘I was catapulted into an awareness of my sexuality I wasn’t ready for. In my six-year-old brain I thought that’s what you had to do to get noticed’.”

Porn at the party?

Now, I’m not saying every person’s place your kid stays at will have porn and it’s unlikely to be at a party for heaven’s sake. But it will happen sometime, with some friend or they’ll stumble upon it themselves. Back in my childhood you might have a mate whose dad had Playboy calendars in his workshop. You might see shards of pornographic magazine strewn across the train platform on the way to school, but it wasn’t easily accessible. Thanks to the Internet, that’s all changed. Now any child can access pornographic pictures at the touch of a button and it’s easy to stumble across it even when you’re not trying. I once tried to search for some pictures for a kid’s church, Bible lesson. I wanted the kids to have some craft to work on that involved ‘fat cows’ and ‘skinny cows’ from Pharaoh’s dream in the book of Exodus. Yeah… don’t bother searching those terms.

How to take action

Don’t you think it’s a good thing to be able to talk to our kids about images, themes, language they may encounter before they encounter it? Don’t let your kids just watch. Check it out first and discuss. How? Go to IMDB for movies or sit down and watch an episode with them before you let them commit to a series.

Take the party invite and the mooted movie. I reckon my wife did a top job there… checking the movie out, discussing the content with my daughter and because it wasn’t going to explicitly go into potentially harmful areas we left the decision with our daughter. But the themes weren’t great. The language warning wasn’t optimal either. I give my daughter 10 points also for bailing on the movie and pray this is something our kids might apply with consistency.

It is better they make the decision, forewarned. I think it’s good to say to our kids… what kind of stuff do you want in your head? Of course some movies we as parents will say, no.

But few of us will dive headlong into the problem of porn. The internet makes porn so accessible, it can’t be long before our kids are exposed to it at school, at a friend’s house or our own home.

A book I’m keen to get:

Liz Walker’s book is called ‘Not for Kids’ to facilitate an open conversation between parents and primary school children about explicit images they may have seen. She warns, ‘We already have a generation of kids who view degrading, violent sex as the norm-devoid of connection, intimacy and love. If somebody doesn’t speak out soon we are staring down the barrel of tomorrow’s sex offenders and a barrage of intimate partner violence’ (Sydney Morning Herald, Sunday February 7th, 2016, News page 20).

write by Halcyon

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