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Growing Up Online

Online pornography - Tips for parents

It’s normal for your child to be curious about sex. They may have many questions and wonder about what they see online.

It’s important to talk with your child about:

  • responsible online behaviour and responsible use of computers and digital devices (Remind them that others can often see what they’re looking at.)
  • sexting
  • pornography
  • how much time they spend looking at online pornography

Learn more about:

  • the language your child uses to describe sexual online activity and online pornography
  • social media applications (apps) they use, such as Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Tinder, and Instagram
  • the websites your child visits
  • how to check the history of websites they visit

Know what your child does online. Talk to your child about what’s OK and what’s not OK to do online. Let your child know that publicly sharing naked pictures of anyone under the age of 18 is illegal and considered child pornography.

To help you manage and protect your child online, use:

  • parental controls
  • privacy settings

Parental controls can help you:

  • set time limits on how much your child uses their device
  • track your child’s calls, texts, location, and social media activity
  • filter certain types of web content to protect your child from things you don’t want them to see online

Privacy settings can help you:

  • lower your risk of spams, scams, frauds, and cyber attacks that try to steal your personal or banking information
  • control who sees your child’s personal information
  • make online security better for everyone at home

Online pornography becomes a problem when it harms your child’s mental or physical health, or has unwanted effects on their day-to-day life.

You may find these resources are helpful:

Your child might say:

You might say:

“It was an accident. I didn’t go looking for the porn.”

“Let’s go over safe online behaviour.”

“I’m just curious.”

“We can get you information about sex from sources you can trust.”

“What’s the big deal…all of my friends are doing it.”

“When you don’t have much experience with sex, it’s important to have a realistic way of thinking about intimate relationships and sex.”

“I’d prefer to learn about sex online instead of talking to an adult.”

“Online pornography doesn’t show real, intimate relationships and sex. If you aren’t comfortable talking with me or another adult about sex, let’s find other reliable ways to learn about sex.”

“I’ll miss out on everything my friends are doing and I want to fit in.”

“I know it’s important to fit in, but this isn’t the only way to connect with your friends. Let’s talk about other ways you can connect with your friends and what you can say the next time this topic comes up.”

“I don’t want my friends to think I’m not cool or that I don’t like them.”

“It’s important not to feel pressure to sext. Once you send a photo to someone, they could share it with others. Remember that publicly sharing naked pictures of anyone under the age of 18 is illegal and considered child pornography.”

For help and support, contact: Alberta Health Services Youth Addiction Services at 1-866-332-2322 (toll free in Alberta).

See the Resources section for more information.

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