Top tips for children addicted to online porn launched

Recent research by CyberSentinel.co.uk has found that the average teenager spends one hundred minutes a week surfing for porn.

To help tackle this growing phenomenon, Parentline Plus, one of the UK's largest parent to parent and family support charities has launched a series of top tips for parents whose children may be addicted to online pornography.

Jeremy Todd, Parentline Plus Chief Executive said:

"Parentline Plus recognises that parents with teenagers can find it difficult to approach the subject of online pornography with their children. Teenagers may feel confused, worried and scared that they don't have the right information at a time when their friends are starting to think and talk about sex. Helping your child to know fact from fiction and to explore appropriate behaviour towards sex and relationships is vital when children are beginning to surf the net. Parentline Plus is available 24/7to give guidance on how you can begin these difficult chats as well as provide additional information on contraception, teenage pregnancy and much more."

Working in conjunction with Paula Hall, Relate psychotherapist and sex addiction specialist, and psychologist Corinne Sweet, expert on pornography, relationships and addiction, these Top Tips are available at www.gotateenager.org.uk/onlinporn :

  • Don't automatically assume that your child has been seeking out porn if you see sexual words on their internet history. They may have been looking for information on sex education or sexual health matters, or clicked on a link from another site.
  • A lot of young people use the internet for sex education and health concerns, so if you decide to put parental controls on their computer, do your research. Choose one which blocks porn but still permits access to sexual education sites.
  • It's a myth that young people don't want you to talk about it. Chat about the impact of porn and the negative effects it can have in a general sense. Ensure they know the difference between realistic sex and sensational sex.
  • Sometimes it helps if you say: 'What do your friends think about so-and-so' rather than asking them directly for their view. Try: 'I've heard people can get porn on their mobiles - what do you think about that?' Get the conversation going.
  • Remember that this also applies to girls. Don't make the mistake of thinking it's only boys who watch porn.
  • If you discover them watching porn, the most important rule is: DON'T OVER-REACT. Even if you have religious principles which are deeply offended by it, Try and stay calm. Say gently; 'Can we turn it off?' Then go and do something neutral, like having a cup of tea, and talk about it when you've calmed down.
  • Sometimes it's easier to bring up these subjects casually on a car journey. Remember that they will know much more than you did at their age, so DON'T say: 'When I was your age...' They will think you're old and boring!
  • Think carefully before dishing out major punishments, such as grounding them for a week. The most important thing is to keep the channels of communication open.
  • Try asking them - what did you learn from watching that? Is it something that taught you more about love? Stress that porn doesn't teach about emotional relationships.
  • Some teens do post sexual videos of themselves online. This is a time to put your foot down. Remove the webcam and ensure the PC is always in family areas.
  • If they are addicted to porn, be frank and ask yourself - are you feeding their addiction by allowing them to keep a computer in their room because it keeps them quiet? If you do think there are addiction issues, see your GP and get help. It could affect their general concentration and studies. Find a counsellor - the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy will be able to recommend someone in your area. www.bacp.co.uk

If you are a parent or adult carer and need advice on teenage issues, please visit: www.gotateenager.org.uk , or phone Parentline Plus free, 24 hours a day on 0808 800 2222.

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For interviews and media enquiries please contact: Simon Walsh at Parentline Plus on 020 7284 5500/ 07525 403 642 or emailsimon.walsh@parentlineplus.org.uk

Notes to editors:

www.gotateenager.org.uk offers informal advice about teenager concerns via message boards, blogs and interactive quizzes. It also offers web TV shows and online comics to improve parent/teen relationships.

Parentline Plus is:

  • A free confidential, 24-hour parent support line – Parentline on 0808 800 2222
  • A live online chat service
  • A free text phone for people who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech impairment 0800 783 6783
  • Email support parentsupport@parentlineplus.org.uk
  • Individual support
  • Individual telephone support over six sessions to work out a problem
  • Parenting groups and workshops
  • Information materials
  • A helpful, interactive website for parents www.parentlineplus.org.uk
  • A new website for parents concerned about bullying www.besomeonetotell.org.uk
  • A social networking site for parents of teenagers www.gotateenager.org.uk
  • Training for professionals
  • Volunteer opportunities

Parentline, free from landlines and most mobile networks: 0808 800 2222