-Serious About Sex in Solana Beach, CA
A: Dear Serious,
Whether we like it or not, this scenario is neither rare nor one of “bad kids doing bad things.” Pornography is not being directed just at tween/teen boys but at all of us. It is a multibillion-dollar economic engine of the Internet, and it is easily accessible with any Web-capable device. Combine that with the rapidly increasing ownership of and facility with cell phones by school-aged children, and you have the situation you describe.
There are two issues here. The first is the effects of viewing pornography on anyone, and the second, and more important one in this age group, is its effects on youth who are forming their ideas and attitudes about sex. Research with older adolescents and young adult males has shown that exposure to pornography results in objectification of, desensitization to, and reduced empathy for women. It also shows that men who view sexually explicit films degrading to women are more dominant in their subsequent interactions with women.
Media-effects research, which addresses outcomes from
violence to nutrition, has consistently shown that young people learn about the
world and how to behave in it from the media they use. Research
Parents, teachers, and other adults can help reduce the
potential unhealthy effects of exposure to sexual media by talking with kids
about sex in a way that is clear, matter-of-fact, and without shame. Make
it safe and comfortable to come to you for information. That way, if and when they
encounter sexually explicit media, what they see becomes just one part of their
larger understanding of sex, human relationships, and how they work in the real
world. It can be difficult to know how to start these conversations, but there
is advice out
there that can help you figure out what to say and how to say it. Media
portrayals of sexual situations can actually make these conversations easier
and more effective, as research around a Friends
episode dealing with condom failure demonstrated. Although unquestioned and
undiscussed exposure to sexually explicit material has been associated with
negative effects of children’s sexual health, you can address your child's
curiosity about sex in ways that supports healthy development and the kind of
understanding of sex and relationships you’d like them to have.
Enjoy your media and use them wisely,