Deal with it

If your child has accidentally or purposely seen porn online, learn what steps to take to assess the impact on them and what to do next to support them.

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Steps to take if your child has seen porn

Tips on how to support your child if they have been exposed to online pornography
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Block access to explicit content online, but it shouldn’t be a substitute for talking about the issue.

Your home broadband is the root of your child’s internet access and you can access the parental controls to set acceptable limits on the content your child can view.

If your home broadband is used by your family, then you may want to set parental controls on just the search engines they use.

Set up parental controls across all devices your child has access to; computer, mobile phone, tablet, and games consoles.

Use ad blockers to prevent your child from accidentally clicking on inappropriate adverts in pop-ups.

Check your child’s browser history to keep an eye on what sites they’ve visited. Anything you feel is inappropriate, you can add to the parental controls filter list.

No filter is 100% effective. The most important take out is that talking about the issues around online pornography with your child will be vital to give them the coping strategies to make smarter and safer choices online.

What to do

  • Have age-appropriate conversation and explain that there are some things online that are for adults only and if they see something that upsets them online, they should always come and tell you.
  • It may be a good time to help your child think critically about the images they see online and offline.
  • Try and give them coping strategies to help them deal with any online content that they are uncomfortable with like closing the laptop lid or turning off the screen.
  • Reassure them that they can always come to you if they feel they have seen something online that has worried them.
  • Be prepared that they may have questions about sex and relationships.
  • Limit the chances of exposure to inappropriate content by setting up filters and parental controls on devices – i.e. filters on your home internet, and YouTube Safety Mode and Google Safe Search.
  • Make sure the devices are used in a shared room, like the living room or kitchen to limit.
  • Discuss the problem with other parents to encourage a shared strategy.
  • If your child is seeking our online pornography, try and find out the reasons why. They may be curious about sex and looking to find out more. Point them to better sources of information like Childline and Amaze.org.

How to report inappropriate content online

If you or your child come across sexual images or videos of under 18s, report them to the Internet Watch Foundation.

Find further advice and help regarding your children and inappropriate content online here.

UK Government campaign video highlighting the need to stop online child sexual abuse
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Help! My child has seen porn, what do I do – See our parents guide for steps to take to support your child.

Where to get counselling services

If you feel that your child is or has been badly affected by viewing online pornography, talk to your GP about available support. Many local counselling services offer a sliding scale of cost depending on your family income. It may even be free. This can be quicker than accessing support through your GP. For information of counselling services in your area visit the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and make sure your child knows about ChildLine and other helplines

Organisations like the Mental Health Foundation and Mind also have some advice if you need support in talking to them about mental health.

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Read this article from Young Minds to learn how can counselling services can help my child.

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