Prevent harm to children

Explore advice on how to prevent access to online pornography

Get advice on what conversations to have with your child. As well as which controls and filters you can use to prevent your child from seeing online pornography and other adult material.

Display video transcript
Pornography can be a tricky topic to discuss with your children. Be natural and straightforward to help start the conversation and not let embarrassment get the better of the situation.

It’s good for your child to know that they can, and should, come to you if they come across something upsetting online. Make sure they know that you won’t overreact or be shocked by whatever they tell you.#

Give them positive messages. It’s important to talk to them about loving sexual relationships – to understand how to be respectful in relationships.

Curiosity about sex and interest is a normal part of a child’s development. If your child is young and has come across pornography by mistake, they are much more likely to need reassurance and support.

2 quick tips to help you manage online porn

When should I talk to children about online porn?

Pornography can be a difficult subject to talk about with children, especially younger ones. However, we know that children as young as nine can stumble across adult content, so it’s important to be prepared.

How can I manage what my child has access to?

You can set up parental controls or content blockers, these can filter out adult content. However, these aren’t a substitute for talking about porn with your child as a quarter of children will be sent material by a friend or classmate.

How to start the conversation about online porn

Pornography can be a difficult subject to talk about with children, especially younger ones. But it’s important to let your child know that pornography doesn’t show a realistic picture of sex and relationships. Explore our guide of dos and don’ts for having an age-appropriate conversation about online porn with your child.

Dr Linda Papadopoulos provides do’s and don’ts to help parents addressing online pornography with children

What are the benefits of having a conversation about online porn?

Children in the UK are exposed to online pornography – on average – by the age of thirteen, so it’s important to be proactive, rather than waiting for the issue to arise. There are a number of benefits to having a conversation with your child:

  • A light conversation children understand their bodies and you can support them in developing a positive body image
  • It gives you an opportunity to share values about sexuality and give them a better idea of what is the norm is sex and relationships
  • Gives them a better understanding of what a healthy sexual relationship should consist of and what it should not
  • They need to learn about the topic from somewhere and as a parent, it is better that you control that conversation

It’s also important to explore what your child already knows and understands. For example, what they may have learnt from their school, peers or older siblings. And remember, Ii you seem embarrassed to talk about sex and pornography your child will also feel uncomfortable and will be less likely to let you know if they have seen sexual images.

Try techniques like getting them to write things down, or start conversations when they don’t have to look you in the eye, for example, when in the car, or walking home from school.

Here's what to cover when discussing online porn with your child

How to restrict access to online porn

Setting filters to block pornography and explicit online content is great to protect your child’s online safety. However, content blockers shouldn’t be used as a substitute for talking about the issue and tackling it face-to-face:

Make sure every device is protected

Parental controls should be installed on every device your child uses: mobile phone, tablet and games consoles (both home and handheld).

We’ve created simple step by step guides to protect your family from inappropriate content online. We’ll show you step by step information on how to set parental controls across your home broadband and a range of mobile devices, games consoles and entertainment sites that your children might use.

Check your child’s browser history

Look in the browser history at the search terms your child has been using and the sites they’ve visited. Keep an eye on the apps they’ve downloaded on their phones too. If you find something that you feel is inappropriate, you can add it to your parental controls filter list.

Learn how to check browser history

Set parental controls on your search engine

If you have a young child, encourage them to use child-friendly search engines, such as Swiggle or Kids-search.

Safe search settings can also be activated through Google and Bing parental controls. For other search engines, go to their safety settings page. Don’t forget to opt for the safety mode on YouTube, iTunes and Google Play.