Age-appropriate access

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Age-appropriate access

Unread post by Blythe »

I have a 12-year-old son who has been looking at porn. I am not anti-porn, but I am anti-unethical-porn, and I also think it is not appropriate for his age (in terms of messaging about bodies, relationships, etc). But sexual interest and arousal is normal, and I don’t know how to support a healthy relationship with that (not to mention a positive relationship with his own body and pleasure) while also shutting down all access.

But, like, there isn’t really such a thing as age-appropriate porn or erotica… is there?!

Help guide me!
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Re: Age-appropriate access

Unread post by Latha »

Hi there, Blythe- welcome to the boards!

I understand why you're concerned about this, but I think you have the right approach. It is normal for him to be interested in sex, and try to explore that interest in media. Porn isn't bad, but it can be produced and distributed unethically, and it can promote flawed ideas about our bodies, relationships, sex, and certain groups of people.

This is up to you to decide as a parent, but I'm not sure how useful parental controls over what he can see would be at his age- as you said, they may only teach him to feel ashamed and he may start to hide things from you. The things that he sees in porn can't hurt him permanently, especially if he has the tools to evaluate what he sees. So give him those tools- talk to him about your concerns, and give him reading materials so he can think about this on his own. We have some articles that might help here:

Making Sense of Sexual Media
Bare Bodies: Reality Checking Mainstream Porn
Sex on Screen: Reality-Checking Mainstream Porn

Of course, you don't have to cover everything in one sitting.

As for age-appropriate porn and erotica... the closest thing to that might be media aimed at people his age that explores sex and relationships. Perhaps you can make such books and shows available to him, but your ability to make him want to read or watch such things will be limited.
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