Here's What To Do If You Catch Your Kid Watching Porn

The First Thing You Should Do If You Catch Your Kid Watching Porn

January 10, 2022 Updated January 11, 2022

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Okay, it happened. Yes, you saw what you saw: your child was watching porn. What now? 

First of all, do not blame yourself or get angry for letting them have a device so young, not putting the proper blockers on, or leaving them alone with a phone or iPad. This is completely normal. With everything at our fingertips these days we have to expect this kind of thing. In my day growing up in the ‘80s, we used to thumb through our parents’ pornographic magazines and movies. It was just harder to get caught. 

Being curious is completely natural — and I promise you, even if you don’t give your kids means of electronics, or stand over their shoulder every second they are on their phone, they are still going to find a way.

They have friends with devices, and let’s face it, you aren’t (and can’t) be in their presence every waking minute.

The best thing we can do (believe me, I am a mother to three teenagers) is to handle it with grace because that’s what the situation deserves.

I spoke with Dr. Gail Dines, President of Culture Reframed, a research-driven, sex-positive non-profit that helps parents build resilience and resistance in their children to porn. They have developed programs for parents of tweens and teens on how to speak to your kids about porn.

Dines shared her advice for us parents —whether you’ve caught your kid watching porn or not — as well as tips to fall back on so you feel empowered and equipped in the immediate aftermath.

First, avoid shame. “Keep in mind studies show that the majority of kids’ first exposure to porn is accidental, rather than seeking it out,” says Dines.

Make sure to use age-appropriate language to find out what your child was looking at. “If your child is not ready to talk about what they saw, don’t pressure,” said Dines, adding, “rather, arrange a time within the next few days for a conversation. This will provide your child with some space to collect themselves, and feel less shame.”

Always use the correct biological terms like “penis” and “vagina” and ask how they feel about what they saw, says Dines. 

“It’s also important to add that what they saw is not how most adults have sex and add (if age-appropriate), how having sex is about consent, connection, empathy, and mutual pleasure, the very things absent in porn,” says Dines.

Let your children know you are always open to talk with them about anything, porn included. It doesn’t have to be a long talk either, says Dines. “Don’t have one 100 minute conversation about porn, but 100 one-minute conversations.”

Also, make sure you don’t lecture them. Be sure to ask questions gently, and see this as the beginning of many conversations to come. You want your children to feel comfortable coming to you.

Because, as Dines remind us, “If we don’t talk to our kids about porn, the porn industry will.”