There are three ways to use the new PKR:

  1. Browse and click on color-coded boxes that appear as if by magic as you scroll down.
  2. Click on a category for all the ParenTips under that particular category.
  3. Go to the Site Map (link) for an:
    • a) alphabetical list of all ParenTips.
    • b) A list of all 8 categories with every ParenTip in that category listed alphabetically.

Or mix and match! Have fun as you get the information you need!

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Porn Problems

“I was by chance on my son’s iPod and saw nude pictures of women from the Internet. He is 11 years old. I have not deleted the pictures though I want to but, WOW, I need help handling this.”

Nude pictures on a phone or tablet are the digital equivalent of the girlie magazines boys used to hide from their mother. In the pre-digital age when boys neared puberty they became intensely curious about what was happening to their bodies and to female bodies, and what it all meant.

Today we live in a highly sexualized world. Our “sexual reality” comprises earlier puberty especially for girls, kids of both genders are sexualized way too early (media, clothes, books, language), nudity and porn are virtually ubiquitous, and the media (and sadly almost all of us)use sexually-explicit cuss words. Kids have information but mostly the wrong kind from the wrong sources giving the wrong message.

If you delete the pics your son can download others or watch stuff on a friend’s screen. If you take away his iPod he will use a friend’s screen. I don’t like this any better than you do and, frankly, I am glad I am not raising my kids today.

My general advice about sexuality education comes from what I read and did with my own children: start early, be honest, encourage questions (be an “askable” parent), provide appropriate books, share what feelings you can about your own adolescence and sexuality. Also from the earliest “talk,” focus on human feelings of love and respect not just bodies and hormones (see my ParenTip on Sexuality Education).

My advice for the mother who sent me the question is first take a deep breath and relax. All parents are nervous at times like this. Say something like, I accidently found the nude pictures you downloaded. Son, I know you are at a time in your life when your body is, or soon will be, changing. You have sexual feelings and that’s normal and wonderful. But, alas, the part of your brain that controls judgment as well as deciding what is the right thing to do won’t be fully developed until you are much older so listen carefully to what I say about sex. I acknowledge your strong feelings and am glad you have them but I don’t want you or a girl to get hurt so you have to follow the rules. The first rule is do not have sex until you are older. The second rule is do not cause a pregnancy or get, or pass on, a venereal disease. This means you must learn about responsible sex way before you start having sex.

Son, tell me if you have any questions now about your body or sex. Let’s talk about sexual curiosity and why some boys look at sites that show the nude body. I was curious about men when I was your age. Maybe you can tell me why you have those pictures. But don’t feel guilty about your curiosity. Instead of nude pics or porn go to sexetc.org or Scarleteen for appropriate information.

Alas, sexuality education today must deal with pornography. Questions come to me about 4 year-olds watching a child-suitable movie on YouTube and innocently clicking to a sexually explicit porn clip. Or children finding it on one of their many screens. Or you hear about other parents who found porn on their son’s computer so you do a search history on your own child’s computer and find it. Even if you use filters at home, children share their screens and most kids today are more computer savvy than their parents are.

What do I advise parents who find actual porn? Take a really deep breath and then start talking with your boy. Talk about how important it is to respect women and not treat them like objects. Talk about what exploitation of women does. Even talk about the unspeakable: child porn and how clicking on such sites makes you an exploiter of children. Talk about how we should treat the human body with awe, not lewdness, because of our body’s incredible powers to provide sexual pleasure and make babies.

You must say (and you have every right to say) you are offended to see woman as objects and that you expect him to delete the pictures. Simply say, we don’t allow such pictures in this house.

Good luck with this tough issue! One mother can’t change the world but each mother can work to make her family sensitive to the dangers and distastefulness of our over-sexualized world. One family at a time.

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