In our society, sex and sexuality are still regarded as a taboo topic by some. Talking about sex, especially with your own children, can make some parents feel uncomfortable. When parents discover that their teenager is watching pornography it can evoke different reactions, a common one is shock. How you feel about your children watching porn will depend on the values that you hold and the messages that you were given yourself about it.

The days of playboy magazines being hidden under the bed are a thing of the past. Nowadays, pornography has become much more accessible since the internet is readily available on technological devices which teenagers use daily. Whilst parents may not feel reassured by this, it is normal for teenagers to watch pornography. At that age, they are curious about sex and start to explore their own sexuality and interests. The following are a few tips that can guide you in this situation. 

Talking about sex – It is helpful to talk about sex to your own kids from when they are younger, obviously always adapting the information to their age. When they have questions, answer them and if you are unsure how to respond, check and then get back to them. Being accustomed to talk about this topic makes it easier to approach them when you have some concerns; including pornography. Avoid making them feel ashamed that they are watching pornography, this will not help them to open up to you. 

Removing technology – Upon learning that your teenager is watching pornography, the first instinct may be to remove access to the devices which can be the gateway to watch porn. Doing so may have other repercussions on your child’s behaviour. It also gives them the message that they need to hide it from you and this closes off communication. Ultimately, where there is a will there is a way and if they want to watch porn, they will find a way. Thus, it’s better to have a conversation with them about safety and what is real which will be discussed next. 

What is real – One important conversation to have with your teenager if they are watching porn is to help them understand that what they see happening is an act and that what sex looks like in real life doesn’t have to mirror what they see. The problem can be that what they expect to happen in real life is what they see happening on the screen. Have a conversation about respect for the other person they are engaging sexually with and the importance of consent.

Addiction – Pornography can be considered as harmful if it becomes an addiction. This is when the teenager becomes dependant on porn and it interferes with their daily life and functioning. In this case, seeking help from a professional can help. Thus, understanding better about the usage is important to determine whether this is a habit for them or an addiction. If you need help to talk about sex education with your teenager, you can also seek support in this. 

If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.

Dr Marilyn Muscat is registered as an Educational Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council in the United Kingdom where she trained. She works with children, adolescents and their families to understand more about educational, social and emotional well-being concerns that they have and to help them improve upon their difficulties. She can be contacted on or call us on 79291817.