Prevent harm to children

How to prevent access to online pornography

Get advice on what conversations to have with your child when it comes to online pornography along with which controls and filters you can use to prevent your child from seeing online pornography and other adult material.

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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 ways to manage access to online pornography

Talk regularly about online pornography

A topic like pornography is difficult for both parents and children to talk about. However, we know that children as young as 9 can stumble across adult content, so it’s important to talk early and often.

Set up parental controls

After conversations, the best way to limit access to online pornography is to set parental controls. You can set controls on broadband and mobile networks, smartphones and tablets, social media platforms, video games consoles and more.

These controls allow you to block adult content, limit device access, review time spent online and censor explicit material.

However, parental controls aren’t a substitute for talking about porn with your child as they might see online pornography in other ways. For example, a quarter of children will receive adult content from a friend or classmate.

How to talk about online porn

While a difficult topic to talk about, having conversations early and often around online pornography is key to keeping children safe.

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

On average, children in the UK view online pornography by the age of thirteen — 10% see it as early as 9. So, it’s important to address the issue beforehand. There are a number of benefits to having these types of early conversations with your child:

  • Children can better understand their bodies, and you can support them in developing a positive body image.
  • They give you an opportunity to share values about sexuality and give them a better idea of what is positive in sex and relationships.
  • They help children better understand what a healthy sexual relationship is and what it is not.
  • Conversations help you get ahead of potential misinformation they might come across through friends or other online spaces.

Remember to also explore what your child already knows and understands — like what they have learnt from their school, peers or older siblings. This can also help you tackle any misconceptions or misunderstandings.

Try techniques like getting them to write things down, or start conversations in casual moments such as when you’re driving in the car or walking home from school.

Age-specific guidance

How to prevent access to online pornography

Setting up parental controls to block pornography and explicit online content can support regular conversations around safety.

Set up each device with parental controls

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.

Customise their browser

Whichever browser your child uses, you might have options to limit access to certain websites. Additionally, you can review their browser history to stay on top of the types of sites they visit.

You can also set up SafeSearch on the search engines they use. See how with Google or Bing. Additionally, if you have a young child, encourage them to use child-friendly search engines, such as Swiggle or Kids Search.

Don’t forget to opt for the safety mode on YouTube, iTunes and Google Play.

Alternatively, you might want to use parental controls apps like Google Family Link to easily set limits across apps and devices.

Get kids' devices set up safely

Answer questions about their new device to get personalised safety advice.

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