This was originally scheduled to post on April 8th.. and I’m not sure why it didn’t! Anyway, this is the second part of my post on how parents can talk to their teens about internet pornography. Here are 5 more topics you may want to address during these discussions. See the first part here.
6. Talk about realistic body image. In most pornography, what we’d consider real and normal bodies are not present. Body hair and cellulite are absent. Many of the women have had plastic surgery, including breast implants, liposuction, and cosmetic labiaplasty. The size of the male genitalia portrayed is definitely at the far end of the bell curve. Since teens have usually not viewed a wide range of breasts and/ or genitalia in their lifetime, they may assume something is “wrong” with theirs, or that their body parts are unattractive. Remind your teen that they should never feel their body is not up to par due to unrealistic images- including pornographic ones- and that their future lovers will find them beautiful.
7. Talk about safer sex. Some pornography production companies have their actors visibly use condoms before sex, but many do not. Even those who do depict condom use rarely show condoms being used for all sex acts. This has led to the spread of HIV, syphilis, and multiple other infections. Remind your teen that actors in pornography are at a high risk for sexually transmitted infections if they don’t take proper precautions. That means using a condom every time, for ever sex act (including oral sex). This can lead into a discussion about preventing STIs.
8. Humanize the actors. Remind your teen that people act in pornographic movies, and that they are not “real life”, no matter what the video would like us to believe. Talk about what it might be like to be an actor in pornography; not the neverending sex people talk about, but what it might be like for one’s job to hinge upon having sex with other actors. What would it be like to try and have a long-term relationship or marriage? Would you talk to your family about your job, and how? How would you deal with fan attention? What sort of communication would you have with your coworkers? If you were a “star”, how might that be different than someone trying to make ends meet or make a name in the field? Does everyone going into pornography want to be a pornographic actor, or could there be other factors involved? This can help shatter the illusion that pornography is reality, as well as helping to de-objectify many of the people being portrayed.
9. Discuss the dark side of pornography. Remind your teen that children or adolescents being in pornography is absolutely unethical and wrong, and is a very damaging form of sexual abuse. Your teen should never, ever, view these images, and neither should their friends. I’m also going to go out on a limb (not a very long one) and say that teens should not be watching pornographic videos that depict nonconsensual or violent sex. This is not necessarily unethical, as long as the viewer is certain they are staged; some adults enjoy these images and would never do something similar in real life. However, a teen is just consolidating their idea of what sex is. Violence and assault are not concepts you want them to be thinking of as “normal.” If they are going to view those images, let them do it as adults.
10. Never pay for pornography. This goes along with the basic rules of internet safety. “Porn scams” are very common, and once they have a credit card number, they can carry high financial and personal costs.
What other topics do you think it’s important for parents to address when discussing internet pornography with their teen?