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  • Families can protect their children from pornography in three ways
  • The CAN DO plan helps kids take action when faced with pornography
  • Who would benefit from reading Good Pictures Bad Pictures?

MAR 16, 2022

How to Talk to Kids about Pornography: Book Spotlight—Good Pictures Bad Pictures

Preparing your children to stay safe when exposed to explicit content

By Joseph Pratt
Gabb Family Resources

What percentage of kids have seen pornography online?

Kids need help navigating today’s “pornified culture”. In a 2017 study, researchers determined the average age of exposure to explicit content was 13 for boys and 16 for girls (Lim et al., 2017), although experts agree that kids are usually exposed at a much younger age (Perry, 2015).

In fact, a separate study conducted in 2020 found that 28% of 11-year olds had accessed pornography online (Martellozzo, 2020).

While filters and site blockers have a place, 25% of kids with protection software installed reported unwanted exposure to sexual content (Ybarra et al., 2009, p. 869).

The reality is we can’t shield kids from coming across pornography. The good news is we can empower them to navigate those experiences in healthy ways. 

Studies suggest successful methods for reducing the negative consequences from unwanted exposure to explicit content will include a combination of digital media literacy skills, self-protection, and awareness (Teimouri et al., 2018, p. 1224).

Integral to this is parents having honest and positive conversations with their children about sexuality and the internet (Braun-Courville & Rojas, 2008, p. 161).

How families can be prepared by having open discussions

In accordance with this research, Kristen A. Jenson’s Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids gives families the tools to protect their kids. Best practices include:

Tools for Families to Discuss Exposure to Pornography

  1. Parents can become equipped with ways to facilitate discussion
  2. Caregivers can become skilled in explaining to kids how our brains are affected when we see explicit images
  3. Children can learn to cope with exposure in healthy ways (Jenson, 2018)

With these tools, Jenson offers families healthy ways to respond to inevitable exposure.

She skillfully strikes a delicate balance between simplicity, age-appropriateness, and directness that clearly shows young people the danger to their wellbeing.

Conversations to have about pornography with kids

This book is divided into nine chapters—each describing a parent-child conversation. In easy to understand terms, the mother explains to the child what pornography is and how it makes you feel.

Next, kids learn how addictions create an imbalance between the thinking and feeling parts of the brain.

Through easily adapted stories and examples, the mother explains the importance of the brain’s attraction center and how pornography exploits it to create an addiction.

The story concludes with a conversation about a “CAN DO” plan explaining what to do when we see pornography.

Good Pictures Bad Pictures goes beyond sharing interesting facts and clearly explaining what parents can do to protect their children.

Because of the conversation-driven narrative style, it works well as an example for parents unsure of how to approach tough topics like pornography.

Every chapter ends with a “Let’s Talk” page where parents and children can continue the conversation.

Between this and the introduction, which includes tips on how to personalize the book to your family’s needs, all parents will benefit from reading this guide.

Who This Book Is For?

This book is for parents of kids ages 7 and up who want to talk to their kids about pornography. For parents with younger children, there is another version called Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr.

Though these books aren’t written for families with older teens, the principles in it still foster healthy discussion. 

Good Pictures Bad Pictures can protect kids before they are exposed and also after they have come across explicit material.

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