We are chronically overwhelmed and frightened for your kids though, aren’t we? Sexual predators and perversions are lurking everywhere. Innocent google searches will expose our young to sex workers and pop-up advertisements will assault them with fetishware.
But the thing is, our efforts to protect our kids may be getting in the way of healthy sexual exploration and expression. I’m not saying there aren’t predators, because there are. And I’m certainly not saying that uninvited pop-ups that are selling me a hot date with a foreign beauty aren’t bothersome and disconcerting, because they are.
It does seem to me like our squeamishness with sexuality, especially budding sexuality, gets in the way of providing information about healthy sexual expression. Rather than trying to control internet access, we need to teach our kids how to be good sexual knowledge-collectors and decision-makers.
I’m guessing many of us know this intuitively but have a hard time not having knee-jerk reactions to things we find in the cache or trash on the family computer.
The internet is giving our kids access to incredible information. My older brother sold encyclopedias for a while and my parents were supportive of his entrepreneurial spirit so we had a complete set by the time I was 16. That meant I didn’t even have to go to the library to get basic information on everything from anal sex to zoophilia. Lucky me.
Our kids are fabulously lucky to have such a diverse range of information available to them to develop their sexual intelligence. Think about the amazing resources available today for LGBT and questioning youth that keep them from feeling alone or the incredible web resources that provide sex-positive perspectives that reinforce critical concepts of consent, communication and reducing harm. (If you don’t know about these jems, check out my Resources page which I update often)
A friend of mine who lost her virginity when she was 14 is convinced that if the internet had been around way back then, offering what it does now, she would have waited a lot longer to become sexually active. She didn’t have 26 volumes of Encyclopedia Brittanica or any other resources when she was curious about sex so accessed knoweldge in another way- through experience.
Our job is to share our values and support our kids in identifying their own values so that they can make sexual decisions that fit those values. Where the internet is concerned, we can teach them that everything within the world wide web, including its sexual content has to be assessed for reliability and authenticity. Our kids are going to come across sexually explicit material on the internet – by mistake or by design. What we do with that fact is going to make all the difference.
What are you going to do?
Convo starters and questions
- How do you know if sexual information on the internet is reliable?
- Where do you go for reliable information about sex and sexuality?
- Would you characterize porn as fiction, reality tv or documentary? How can you tell one from the other? What’s real about porn? What is unreal about porn?
- Is porn bad? For who? Why?
- Are people who enjoy porn bad? Why/Why not?
- What does porn typically not show?