How To Talk To & Support Your Child Or Pre-Teen Around Pornography

How To Talk To & Support Your Child Or Pre-Teen Around Pornography

Many children come across porn now, whether it’s by accident, a friend has shown them, or because they’re curious. Porn is easier to find than avoid. Over a quarter of children have seen porn by age 12. Having simple and age-appropriate conversations around porn with children is a great way to help protect and prepare them to navigate their online world.


Collage of screenshots of various organisations supporting parents and whānau with starting conversations around porn


Tips for talking with your child or pre-teen around porn 

It can initially feel a bit awkward discussing porn, but many children still consider parents ‘the experts’ on sex and are open and receptive to parent input. Building trust and rapport now is a great start to establishing ongoing healthy sex conversations.

Be prepared

This will help you stay calm and unshockable. See the parent resources below to help you prepare.

Decide ‘what age’ is best

Consider your child’s personality, time spent with older children, and level of device access. If your child has any unsupervised device access, a simple age-appropriate conversation around porn is recommended.


Young people can have many responses to porn, including shame, confusion, curiosity, arousal (or all of these). Assuring a child that any response is normal will reduce shame and help them feel safe sharing their experiences.   

Reduce shame

Take an open and non-judgmental approach and avoid words like ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ that can close down conversations or create shame if a child sees porn. 

Keep it simple with young children

Include a simple age-appropriate explanation of what porn is, why it’s not made for children and what to do if they see it.  

Keeping safe  

Share some simple safety tools with your child, like ACT (Avert your eyes, Call it out, Tell someone), so they have a plan when they first see porn. 

Tailor it with pre-teens

Most pre-teens will need a more in-depth conversation about porn than just a set of rules, as this is the age they are most likely to see porn. Be guided by your child’s age, knowledge and experience. 

See the KidsHealth page on talking to and supporting your teenager around porn

See the KidsHealth page for advice on how to talk to your child about sex

Resources to support your child or pre-teen around porn

Here are some resources to help parents and whānau with starting conversations, building critical thinking and supporting children and pre-teens around porn.

The Light Project

Screenshot of Light Project website

The Light Project aims to help youth, their whānau, schools and wider communities to positively navigate porn and online sexual content and has a range of information, resources, tools and support pathways for parents.

Keep It Real Online

Screenshot of the Keep it real online website

Keep It Real Online is a New Zealand Government campaign to support parents and caregivers to keep their children safe online. 

Te Mana Whakaatu | Classification Office

Screenshot of Classification Office website

The Classification Office Te Mana Whakaatu is responsible for the classification of all films, videos, publications, and some video games in New Zealand. Their site has some useful research and information for parents about controlling content and pornography.

In the Know 

Screenshot of the In the know website

In the Know is a NZ site for young people wanting information or help with porn related concerns. It includes tools, tips, videos, information and referral services offering support with key porn-related issues. It covers a range of issues, including nudes, feeling uncomfortable with porn, pressure to watch porn, wanting to cut down on porn and creating online sexual content. 


NetSafe is an independent non-profit organisation that provides cybersafety and online security education for all New Zealanders. NetSafe's website has a variety of information on online safety and security issues. The website has information for children, parents, community groups, schools and counsellors.

Just the Facts

Screenshot of the Just the faces website

JUST THE FACTS is a website run by the Sexually Transmitted Infections Education Foundation (STIEF). It is a project funded by the Ministry of Health through district health boards to educate New Zealanders about sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

See more KidsHealth content on internet and media

See the KidsHealth's section on internet and media

Screenshot of KidsHealth website emotional and mental wellbeing section


The content on this page has been developed and approved by the Clinical Network for Child Protection, Paediatric Society New Zealand with input and guidance from Nikki Denholm, Director, The Light Project.

This page last reviewed 27 May 2023.

Call Healthline on 0800 611 116 any time of the day or night for free health advice when you need it