Advertisement

What to do when your kids stumble on sexual content online

WATCH ABOVE: The internet can be a scary place for kids to navigate. Parental controls aren't foolproof and in some cases, a few clicks can lead to kids being exposed to inappropriate sexual content. Kim Smith has some advice for parents.

A few clicks online in the wrong direction can lead to kids being exposed to inappropriate sexual content.

Lisa Holts said her seven-year-old daughter wanted to search for crop tops on YouTube, but didn’t know the term for the latest fashion trend, so she searched for “girls showing their belly buttons.”

Within three clicks, Holts said her daughter was exposed to pornography.

READ MORE: Has your child posted sexualized photos of themselves online? Here’s what to do

“It went from crop tops, to girls in bikinis, to photo shoots and girls posing suggestively. Within three clicks, she was watching full-on sex,” Holts told Global News.

“It was mind-boggling how easy it was. It was like three clicks and she was there.”

Tweet This
Story continues below advertisement

Holts said she didn’t find out for two days that her daughter was watching pornography.

“You’d think she’d see the people having sex and be like, ‘OK, I’m going to stop here.’ But of course she’s curious and this is stuff she’s never seen before.”

According to Dr. Jillian Roberts, a child psychologist and author of Kids, Sex & Screens, children are being exposed to sexual content at a younger and younger age.

“I’ve had many kids that have stumbled. They weren’t out looking for inappropriate content. They click a pop up or, ‘win a free iPad,’ and then it takes you to a really dark and dangerous place. There’s ways to get around parental controls,” Roberts said.

How to prepare your kids for inappropriate content

According to Roberts, parents should position themselves as the go-to person for when children have questions.

“As soon as your child has a life outside of your home, you have to be mindful that they’re going to have other influences,” Roberts said.

Tweet This

“Our children are going to have sexual feelings and sexual questions, they just are. So if you tell the child, ‘No, don’t look at that,’ and, ‘I don’t want to talk to you about that,’ what you’re really telling the child is you’re not comfortable talking about those things and that they shouldn’t come to you if they’ve got those kinds of questions.”

Story continues below advertisement

WATCH BELOW: Dr. Jillian Roberts, child psychologist and author of Kids, Sex & Screens says when children are exposed to sexual information without context, they can experience lasting psychological effects.

Child psychologist and author of ‘Kids, Sex & Screens’
Child psychologist and author of ‘Kids, Sex & Screens’

Roberts said when kids do approach their parents with questions about sexual content, parents should try to make the conversation light and acknowledge the awkwardness.

“Say things like, ‘Thank-you so much for asking me that question. I love having these questions. They might be a little awkward, but I love having them. You always come to me if you need to,'” Roberts said.

READ MORE: What does it mean if your child is considered ‘highly sensitive’?

Holts said she had a serious conversation with her daughter about what was viewed online and how the content made her daughter feel. They also talked about what constitutes a healthy relationship between two people and how her daughter shouldn’t feel ashamed.

“She felt embarrassed but she was curious. Seven-year-olds are curious and that’s what happens. They see something and… ‘Oh, what is this now?'”

Holts immediately enabled search filters and parental controls and wants other parents to be more vigilant.

“I didn’t check her history. She knows what she’s allowed to be on and not to be on and I trusted her,” Holts said. “But my advice is checking history daily and turning on all the filters.”

Story continues below advertisement

Family Matters is always looking for new story ideas.

Connect with host Kim Smith:

Email: Kim.Smith@globalnews.ca

Twitter: @Kim_SmithTV


Want more ways to keep up to date? Check out the Family Matters podcast! If you haven’t subscribed yet — what are you waiting for?

Subscribing’s easy! Here’s how…

On your iPad or iPhone:

  • Open the Apple Podcasts app, search for Family Matters and select it from the list of results.
  • Once on the Family Matters page, click the “Subscribe” button to have new episodes sent to your mobile device for free.
  • Click the name of an episode from the list below to listen.
Story continues below advertisement

On your Android Phone or Tablet:

  • Open the Google Podcasts app, search for Family Matters and select it from the list of results.
  • Once on the Family Matters page, click the “Subscribe” button to have new episodes sent to your mobile device for free.
  • Click the name of an episode from the list below to listen.