Screen time limits, social media, apps, text messages… we did not grow up with all of this. But unfortunately, our children are, and with this constant connection to the outside world, comes the world of pornography. I know we would all like to avoid talking about it with our children, but it’s not going away. In fact, it’s getting worse.
Another study of online pornography use in the United States revealed that 42% of 10 to 17 year olds had seen pornography online, with 27% describing the use as intentional (Wright & Donnerstein, 2014).
When toddlers are watching videos on YouTube, how do we start talking to our young children about protecting themselves from disturbing images/videos they may see online? Where do we start in protecting our children in the world of pornography? Well, step 1 is to talk your children from a young age about their private parts, who can see them and who can’t. For the next step, I recommend a book called Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr.
Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr is recommended for ages 3-6, but as a parent, you know the best age for this discussion with your child. It first describes where we see pictures, and then that there are good and bad pictures. It then goes on to discuss what bad pictures are (“they show private parts”) and what to do if a child sees something like this. The three steps for a child are to turn away, run, and tell an adult. The does not berate or shame the child, and even reminds them that seeing bad things doesn’t make you a bad kid. The language is very simple and easy to follow, just like a story book, with simple illustrations. The writer has also added a little “Find the 19 hiding cameras!” game to keep children engaged.
There is one mention of the word “pornography,” but it is in the corner of a page, and can easily be marked over if a parent preferred. The sentence is simply, “Grown-ups use a big word for bad pictures called pornography.” That’s it, and it doesn’t take away from the essence of the book, which details what to do when they see a bad picture.
There is also the Good Pictures Bad Pictures book which is for children 8+, that makes it easy for parents to have the discussion with their children about what pornography is and how to “porn-proof” kids in the digital age.
I recommend that all parents check out the Good Pictures Bad Pictures book series, because unfortunately, it’s not a case of if our kids see disturbing images, but when. And this way, they will have the necessary tools to know what to do, and also feel comfortable having the discussion with us that it happened after we’ve already talked about it with them.