LSE Research: Parenting for a Digital Future

Parenting for a Digital Future

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Jessica Zurcher had an experience that led her to conduct 33 qualitative interviews regarding parent–child pornography communication. This post draws on those interviews to offer five suggestions for talking with children about pornography, advocating for an approach with open communication and discussion. Jessica is an assistant professor in the School of Communications, Brigham Young University, USA. She researches new media, children and family communication.

Several of my middle-school students were in my Language Arts room catching up on coursework. I noticed that one student had slightly turned his screen away from me and appeared to be heavily locked-in to his computer. I stood behind him to view his screen and was taken-aback. In the central portion was a fictitious-looking, cartoon-like computer game. The graphics were brightly coloured with the main character throwing apples and leaping over goofy, abnormally sized chunks of cheese. But on the side of the game was an image I still clearly recall, a picture of the top-half portion of a naked female in a provocative pose.

Although this student didn’t appear to be paying attention to it, I was alarmed – a child encountering pornography intermixed with children’s entertainment that was being accessed in an educational environment where filters were supposedly ‘in place’.

So I asked myself, what resources are available to combat the effects of adolescents accessing pornography – and more specifically, where unwanted exposure can occur?

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