Online pornography

Your child may discover online pornography unintentionally, or they may go looking for it. Either way, you can play a role.

How do kids find pornography online?

  • Your child may actively search for explicit content online, out of curiosity or perhaps because their friends are talking about it.
  • A friend or sibling (or an adult) may share inappropriate content.
  • Your child may accidentally type the wrong word or phrase into an internet search or click on a link to something that looks interesting but turns out to be pornographic.
  • They might click on links in phishing or spam emails, and pop-ups (even on harmless websites).

How can I protect my child?

  • Set some ‘house rules’ — discuss the issue with all siblings and talk about where and when it is OK to use computers and devices.
  • Stay engaged — talking regularly and openly with your child about what they are doing online will help build trust.
  • Use the available technology — take advantage of the parental controls available on devices, and ensure the ‘safe search’ mode is enabled on browsers
  • Build resilience — talking about sexualised content can help young people process what they come across online and reinforce the importance of consent and respectful relationships.
  • Consider raising the subject of pornography yourself — parenting experts recommend starting the conversation early (by the time they are around 9 years old) to help protect them from the potential impacts of coming across it accidentally. Every child is different, so decide when you think it is right to raise the subject with your child.
  • Take a long-term view — reinforce that if they do see something they do not understand, they can come and ask you about it.

For teenagers, the most important message is that pornography is not real life.

What can I do if my child has found pornography online?

  • Stay calm — thank them for being brave enough to let you know and reassure them that you will sort it out together.
  • Listen, assess, pause — ask them how they found it, where it happened, who (if anyone) showed it to them and how they felt when they saw it. Resist the urge to give them a lecture.
  • Reassure your child they are not in trouble — try not to remove your child’s device or online access completely, as they will see it as punishment.
  • Be sensitive to how they feel — it is important to talk with your child about how the content made them feel. Encourage your child to talk to you about any questions they have.
  • Talk about the importance of consent and respect in relationships — talk about the importance of always having permission to touch, hug, or kiss another person.

This material has been adapted with permission from the Australian Government eSafety Commissioner. Permission to adapt content does not constitute endorsement of material by the eSafety Commissioner.