Music videos, games, the internet and sex in the media

There’s lots of sexual imagery in the media and your child will be exposed to this whether you want them to be or not.

Men and women used as models in the media are normally slim and conform to stereotypes about beauty. Violence and abuse is sometimes used with sexual imagery too.

Music videos

You can help your child look at videos and images more critically and feel they don’t have to be like the people they see. Explain things like airbrushing, healthy bodies and average penis and breast size.

If you see a music video that’s very sexualised you can start a discussion about what your child thinks about, for example, the clothes in the video. You can point out that the people on screen are filming a video, they’re not behaving as they would in real life.

The internet

Parental settings on computers do a job but they aren’t the absolute answer. Try and have some sort of idea about what your child or teen is looking at on the internet so you can discuss it with them.

Gaming

Computer or box games can be very violent and sexual. Check what they are playing is legal for their age. You can talk about how people design the avatars in games, what they look like and how they are different from real life.

Pornography

Getting hold of pornography on the internet and on mobiles and smart phones (like Blackberries and iPhones) is very easy.

Young people will probably hear about or see pornography at some point, often through their friends.

Research has shown young men in particular use pornography to satisfy their curiosity about sex, sexual positions and female body parts. They’re more likely than young women to look at hard-core material.

If you want to talk to your son or daughter about pornography you might want to cover these things:

  • Pornography is very different from real life relationships.
  • Women’s and men’s bodies are different in pornography to real life (penis and breast implants, body shape etc).
  • They shouldn’t feel pressured to watch pornography or pressure anybody else into watching it.
  • They shouldn’t let anyone film or photograph them having sex.

The law

  • It's illegal for anyone under 18 to film or photograph themselves topless or in an erotic pose and post it onto the internet (including social networking sites).
  • It's illegal to send/email/Bluetooth/text pictures of friends who are under 18 having sex (whether it’s oral, anal or vaginal). This is classed as ‘distribution of an indecent image of a child’ and carries a maximum prison sentence of seven years. People convicted of this offence go on the sex offenders register.