Most Teens Have Watched Porn, So Talk to Your Kids About Sex Already

Talking to kids about the birds and the bees is one task most parents of tweens aren't looking forward to. But if you've been procrastinating on having The Talk with your son or daughter, you might want to open up some space in your schedule, because it may be an issue sooner than you think: according to research, three-quarters of all kids will have watched porn by the time they turn 18.


A 2008 study published by researchers at the University of New Hampshire found that over 60 percent of girls and more than 90 percent of boys had viewed porn by the time they were 18 years old -- and with the seven years of smartphone access and debut of online porn hubs like RedTube since then, it would be surprising if that number hasn't grown from there.

I'm not in general a squeamish person, and I don't think a 16-year-old's brain is going to explode if they see a boob or a penis on their computer screen. Yes, it's nice if kids get some sex education at home or school first, but based on the current status of sex ed programs out there that think if you hold hands with your crush you will a.) get pregnant and then b.) die of syphilis, it's pretty understandable if kids are looking elsewhere for more information -- as well as, ahem, a less clinical examination of the issues.

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But I'm not okay with kids' understanding of sex being formed around what they can see in pornography. Most porn isn't a true depiction of sex -- it's stylized violence against women. Glance over a few porn video descriptions (and then spray your computer down with Lysol) and you'll see words like "pounded" and "brutal" and "destroyed" in reference to how the women are treated in these films. Female pleasure, let alone female orgasms, don't appear to exist, and the only thing rarer than those are the appearance of any body hair below the neck.

So really, is that how you want your daughters to grow up thinking of sex with men: that it's a joyless, brutal experience that has to be endured rather than enjoyed? Is that how you want your sons to understand sex with women: that women are things to be used for pleasure and not partners in the act?

If either of those propositions sound dubious to you, get out ahead of the game and make sure you're talking to your kids about sex in an age-appropriate way and answering their questions accurately and calmly. Be a calm and collected source of information for your kids, and don't make them feel like what they want to know is gross, shameful, and wrong -- because the entire Internet is just a click away, and while it may not have the kind of information you want kids to know, it's also not going to shame them for having normal teenage urges.


Image © eyecrave / iStock

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