Yes, you need to talk to your kids about porn. Here’s how to do it

Health

(CNN)At a certain age, every kid learns about the difference between fantasy and reality, whether it applies to fairy tales, video games or superhero movies.

For the generations who’ve never lived without Wi-Fi, the internet is often the first place they’re exposed to sexual imagery. And in the absence of good, comprehensive sex education, some kids may think it’s the only way to actually learn about sex.
“The sad fact is that more than half of our children get their first ‘sexual education’ from adult films on the internet,” said Dr. Mark Schoen, founder of SexSmartFilms.com and former director of sex education at the Sinclair Intimacy Institute. What’s missing is a sense of context and conversation around this imagery — a conversation that would help a young person distinguish between real sex and porn sex.
    Although many sex educators are advocating for this kind of porn literacy in schools, the conversation also needs to happen at home.
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    In general, there can be real benefits from having frank discussions about sex, said Debby Herbenick. In one recent study by Herbenick and her colleagues at the Indiana University School of Public Health, exposure to porn was only associated with an increased probability in having unprotected sex when parents had little-to-no sexual health communication with their children. When parent-teen sexual health communication was high, pornography use was unrelated to teenagers’ engagement in unsafe sex.
    Here’s how to approach “the talk” in the age of online porn.

    Start early

    “Parents would be wise to start discussing sexually explicit media during childhood,” said Herbenick. “It’s not just porn that they need literacy about — it’s Hollywood movies, music and social media, too.”
    Rather than viewing access to porn as a negative, welcome it as an opportunity to educate your kids. “In my experience, the more sex ed a child receives from their parents, the less likely they are to develop shame around sex and use pornography in a compulsive or unhealthy manner,” said sex therapist Kimberly Resnick Anderson.

    Just do it

    Yes

      Teens make the case for porn literacy

    “Starting the conversation can be as easy as saying something like, ‘I know this might seem like it’s coming out of nowhere, but I’m concerned about the messages you are getting about sex, sexual behaviors and what’s real or normal from the stuff that’s out there,'” said sexologist Lanae St. John.
    Or you might do some advance planning. “A conversation on sex and porn should allow for honesty and the time it takes to have a serious discussion,” advised sex therapist Heidi Crockett. “I recommend arranging an agreed upon time so that both parent and child can bring their questions and thoughts to the table.”

    Explain the differences

    Remind your child that porn is meant for entertainment, not education, in terms they can understand.
    you need to talk to your kids about porn. Here's how to do it - CNN

      What it’s really like to be an adult film star

    “I tell them that just as the ‘Fast & Furious’ movies are not driver’s ed, porn is not sex ed,” said St. John. Explain that just like movies, porn portrays how we might fantasize about things but not act on them.
    Likewise, you can stress that masturbation — to porn or otherwise — and sex are two different experiences. “It’s fun to text our friends or play video games with them online, but it’s another thing to hang out in person,” said sex therapist Kristen Lilla. “Porn can also be fun to watch, but it doesn’t mimic or replace real-life sex and relationships.”

    Don’t make assumptions

    Part of what makes porn tough to talk about is how divisive it’s become. You might hear from some adults that porn use has led to dependency, erectile dysfunction, fear of intimacy and other problems. For others, it’s simply part of a healthy sex life.
    The truth is that medical experts don’t know for certain whether porn use is truly responsible for all of the effects attributed to it; so far, there isn’t a clear scientific consensus around the influence of porn on the human adult brain, much less the teenage brain.
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    While some experts say that porn is highly addictive, others say that the concept of true porn addiction isn’t supported by scientific evidence. Impulsive or compulsive porn use, this camp says, is usually a symptom of something else, such as depression or anxiety.
    The only thing we do know for certain is that the more open parents are with their kids about sexual health, the better.

    Don’t limit it to sex

    View your conversations as laying the foundation for helping children question all the media they consume.
      “We begin this process of becoming aware of how roles or stereotypes are portrayed when you watch TV or PG movies with your kids beginning when they’re 7 to 8 years old,” said sex therapist Sari Cooper. “Bringing up some of the uncomfortable feelings one has when watching a film with younger ages because of the way a woman, person of color, or a person with disability was portrayed begins a training of critical thinking with your children.”
      However you choose to approach it, know that “the talk” is really a series of conversations. When you discuss topics like sexuality, masturbation and porn early on, you open the door for trust and honesty with your kids — and that helps build a foundation for good sexual health throughout their lives.

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      Few new series have achieved such notoriety with quite the same speed as Euphoria (Sky Atlantic), the teen-populated US drama that is so explicit in its weary portrait of drug use and sex that it makes Skins look positively Victorian. This pilot episode serves as both a taste and a warning: if you can accept that it depicts its world with the flippancy of an Instagram scroll, then its rewards are vast, particularly in terms of its emotional depth. But early on it brims with pills, drink, apps, erect penises, loving sex, cruel sex and nude pics, ever present and lurking, but horrifyingly casual, as if they are an inexorable part of these particular fictional, middle-class, suburban teenagers existences.

      Euphoria is far better than its surface look-at-me neediness, though. It opens with a heavy teen-angst monologue that points out one of the most horrifying aspects of the whole affair, at least for this particular viewer that its protagonists were mostly born after 9/11. Rue is our lead, an omniscient narrator who weaves with us in and out of her peers lives. She has mental health issues that have been variously diagnosed and medicated, but which she prefers to address with her own risky prescription of illegal substances. I know it may all seem sad, but guess what? I didnt build this system. Nor did I fuck it up, she intones, with all the wisdom of a wordy 16-year-old trying on her own maturity for size. The former Disney star Zendaya is reinvented as the self-destructive, self-loathing Rue, in what is a truly astonishing, mesmerising performance, upending every expectation of what she could do.

      Rue has been in rehab for the summer, following an accidental overdose, and after a period of being clean, her first mission at home is to get as high as she possibly can once more. She does so with the precision of a professional. Euphoria has a tendency to go off on dream-like tangents, which is both self-conscious and charming. One of Rues drug dealers is a child with a tattooed face and a vocabulary made almost entirely of chemical formulas; he is yet to be explained, but his presence adds to the overall woozy feel. Every character here is hyper-articulate, quippy and analytical, using glibness as a defence against the many wounding experiences with which they are not yet able to cope. Once he tried to finger me on the dancefloor without my permission, but, its America, says Rue, drily, of the furious jock Nate, a sinister presence for whom the words daddy issues do not even come close.

      The controversy that accompanied Euphorias debut on HBO centred on the assumption that it was aimed at teenage viewers, and perhaps even younger. If that were the case, it makes substance-fuelled house parties look as appealing as following that paper boat down the drain just because a clown told you to, so Im not sure there is much to worry about. But Im also not even sure that it works as well for a young audience as it does for those of us who can look back with relief that this painful, dramatic part of life is over.

      Euphoria will certainly not appeal to all tastes, but it is far less brash than it has been made out to be. There are deep sophistications hidden within its more straightforwardly angsty digressions. When Rue meets her new best friend, Jules (Hunter Schafer), who has just moved to the suburbs, it becomes a semi-romantic adventure and the series ability to conjure up the intoxicating vitality of relationships like that is remarkable. When Jules meets an older man for sex, the abuse of power is complicated and the show is all the more powerful for resisting the urge to be didactic about it. Rue is a scammer and a hedonist, but she still feels guilty about what she is putting her family through. The heroically droll Kat promises hidden depths. For all of its bleak vision, sympathy is not in short supply, and it is hard not to begin to root for these kids to fight their way through to the other side.

      Regardless of whether your teenage years were spent drinking cider in a field, playing video games online with friends, studying hard to master a musical instrument or, as here, dissecting brutal sexual experiences in a culture of constant surveillance, there is a fundamental truth shared by almost everyone: adolescence is horribly cruel, and sweetly naive, in ever-shifting combinations of the two. If theres one thing Euphoria understands perfectly, its that.

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