Some researchers are citing the age of 8 – eight years old!! – as the average age of exposure to pornography. And – that’s an average. Meaning that kids also encounter pornography at ages even younger than 8. Prior to the Internet era children typically didn’t discover porn until age 11, 12, or 13. Then, it was in the form of a magazine. So, once discovered – kids weren’t often walking around with daily access to it.
“Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids” by Kristen Jenson and Gail Poyner is a great new book for parents who are striving to be proactive by engaging in important, careful conversation with their kids on the topic of pornography.
It’s a resource that explains the harms of pornography accurately for kids, without being excessive and without shaming. Not only does it give important information – but also age-appropriate action steps.
Here are a few reasons as to why I recommend Good Pictures Bad Pictures:
- It gives excellent scientific information on the brain, the impact of pornography, and the risk of addiction in a way that kids can digest. It explains the thinking brain, the feeling brain, and attraction – so helpful!!
- It gives great information within the context of a relational story line and it models healthy parent-child conversations.
- Because it’s not faith-based, this one actually works for any family.
- I was concerned the artwork would be either cheesy or too graphic. It’s neither. Debbie Fox’s watercolor artwork is a great touch.
- Accurate (and not offensive) language – This book calls pornography “pornography” or “porn” – I think it’s important for kids to know real terms and not vague unhelpful euphemisms we use to help ourselves feel more comfortable about difficult topics.
- The chapters are short and manageable – 5-10 minutes, and there are only 9 chapters. There are also discussion questions at the end of each chapter. You can easily break it up, allow time for questions/discussion, and have it read within a week.
- Here’s the thing I love most: it offers a 5-point “CAN DO” plan for how to respond when they see pornography, because the reality is, if they spend time on a wireless device, our children will see pornography, despite our best efforts to protect, supervise and filter! If a 4-year-old can recite that the colors of the rainbow are ROY G BIV (red-orange-yellow-blue-indigo-violet), then our 7 or 8-year-olds can easily remember CAN DO (Close my eyes immediately – Always tell a trusted adult – Name it when I see it – Distract myself – Order my thinking brain to be the boss). The book also explains the importance and benefit of each of those steps.
Sidenote: I haven’t seen a recommended age range, but it seems best for ages 7-10. I’ve read it with a 6-year-old, who seemed more interested and had better questions than a very bright 8-year-old. Outcomes will be different depending on the child. The important thing is that you are laying a healthy foundation and opening the door for future important conversations.
It’s a book that just helps to make a difficult conversation feel far more manageable and less intimidating and it’s a great springboard for discussion.
You can purchase it HERE through Amazon for about $18.
While reading the book, if you discover that your child has seen pornography, you might want further help with navigating those conversations. Feel free to reach out to the GROW team. We understand it can be upsetting and difficult, and we’d be happy to help.
Mindy Pierce, MA, LPC