I recently discovered that my 13 year old son has been viewing websites about women and sex. My husband and I calmly confronted him. He is grounded from the computer except for homework. In addition I will monitor his activity more closely. The computer is in the dining room. But how should/could we have handled the situation? How concerned should we be? Are their other activities we need to be aware of? Thank you in advance for your advice and help.
-Concerned Parent from Minnesota
The Internet provides an abundant supply of treasures for kids. As you know, it can also be the source of trash. Millions of curious kids have discovered that very explicit sexual pictures and videos are only a mouse click away. That’s why "sex" and "porn" are the fourth and fifth most common search terms for tweens and teens. Believe it or not, "sex" is the fourth most common search term for children under seven.
I think you and your husband handled the situation with your son very well. Calm communication is key. It’s important to use this as an opportunity to talk with your son about sexuality--something too many parents are avoiding. A recent study revealed that only 19% of American teens reported good communication with a trusted adult about sex. Does that mean that the other 81% aren’t thinking about it? Of course not. It’s natural for them to be thinking about it a lot so if we parents aren’t communicating with them then we end up unwittingly delegating sex education to Hollywood and the Internet.
We should let our kids know that it’s normal to be curious about sex but that Internet pornography doesn’t portray sexuality in a healthy and respectful way. We should share our values about sex. We should also let them know that access to the Internet is a privilege that comes with responsibilities. In addition to keeping the computer in a central location in the house, setting parental controls can help build a strong foundation for responsible behavior and conversations. Try these tips for talking to your kids about sex and the Internet.