Not Everything On The Internet About Sex Is Bad…

January 11, 2017

Education, Media, Parents

So who else was laugh-crying all the way through the latest episode of black-ish on ABC? If you missed Bow driving through the parking lot yelling “My baby’s broken! My baby’s broken!” drop everything and watch it immediately right here.  You’re welcome.

This episode hit a nerve because it’s every parent’s nightmare: 10 year-old Diane had questions about sex, and when she turned to the Internet for answers, she got some. But not the helpful kind…the XXX-rated kind. She saw way too much, way too soon—and her experience triggered a total tech lockdown for the whole family, because what else do you do when porn finds your 10 year-old? After freaking out, you also have a helpful conversation about sex that includes your own values and a reality check. 

Setting limits doesn’t mean parents don’t trust their kids. It’s the unfiltered Internet that can’t be trusted. It’s inevitable: whether you’re a parent, an aunt, a teacher, a coach, or an older cousin, if you have a young person in your life he or she will have questions about sex. Almost certainly before you’re ready to answer them.

The good news is that you probably already have what it takes to be there for them. Parents don’t have to be biology textbooks in order to be well-informed. That’s what and are for. What teens really want is to have an adult they can trust to listen, to answer their questions, and to help them navigate their feelings: How do you know if you’re ready for sex? How do you know when you’re in love? How do you tell the difference?

The most important thing is to be an askable adult, and to reassure your teens (and pre-teens) that they can come to you first. Even if at first you yell “No! Bad!” like you’re scolding a dog. Ahem. If you go back and try again, and give answers they can handle (not too much all at once), you will be their go-to again and again.

More than half of young people say they’ve had a helpful conversation about sex because of something in popular media. Knowing that this story line would stir up some strong feelings, our partners at ABC and black-ish live-tweeted the National Campaign’s parent tips and information and encouraged viewers to visit Stay Teen as a great resource that parents and teens can trust. The show’s fans responded:

 I talked to my son about sex immediately after this episode. Thanks Blackish for this. —S.W.

Thank you Blackish for opening up this dialogue.. my babes are still young though. I never had the sex talk and learned a lot on my own but it was INCORRECT! I can't wait to talk to my kids because I want them to be well prepared. Love this show and all it promotes —J.R.

Great episode. As a mom of two daughters (13 yrs and 11 yrs), the internet makes things harder. I'm constantly telling them to ask me their questions, but as this episode shows, kids "Google" and search and usually find more than they bargained for. Love Blackish!—A.T.

No I didn't. Nobody talked to me, so I felt it was normal to learn on your own. Shame I know.—P.N.

When it comes to sex, kids’ questions evolve over time. What doesn’t change: they want to hear from parents first. If there’s a hilarious, thought-provoking TV show to get you started, all the better. Keep up with us @TheNC and join the conversation with @black_ishABC

Authored by: Marisa Nightingale

As The National Campaign’s Senior Media Advisor, Marisa Nightingale leads key partnerships with entertainment media executives to help harness the power of popular media to reduce teen and unplanned pregnancy. She and her colleagues provide expertise, information, and hands-on help to media decision-makers whose content is most popular with teens, young adults, and their parents.

Marisa joined the Campaign in 1996, shortly after its founding, and is the architect of its nationally-recognized Entertainment Media program. She served as the program’s Senior Director for 12 years and continues to advise on strategy and cultivate message integration partnerships with outlets including NBC, FOX, ABC, The CW, Hulu, Marie Claire, Family Circle, Essence, Latina and more, with a special emphasis on reaching Latino audiences. Public Service Announcement (PSA) campaigns developed under her direction have won multiple awards and garnered millions of dollars in free placements. She played a leadership role in the conception, development and launch of "Thanks, Birth Control," a social media effort that engages individuals and organizations in a positive public conversation about all that birth control makes possible.

Prior to joining The National Campaign, Marisa was the Communications Director at Share Our Strength (SOS), a leading national voice in the fight against hunger. At SOS, she worked with journalists, chefs, corporate partners, and community organizations to address the causes and consequences of hunger and poverty. Marisa is a guest lecturer at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business and is a seasoned speaker on the role of media in preventing teen and unplanned pregnancy and promoting social change. She has served as a Campaign spokesperson on The Today Show, The View, The Ricki Lake Show, NPR, USA Today, The Washington Post, and elsewhere. Marisa graduated with honors from Yale University and lives in Washington, DC with her husband, two children and a lively mutt.

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