Protective software is not the solution, says Annalisa Barbieri. Far better to have a discussion with him instead

My friend’s 12-year-old son has recently discovered online pornography, and she’s struggling to find advice on how to support him. To my mind, she is doing everything right – being positive and supportive, and not disciplining him overly. She’s asked him if he has any questions about what he’s seen, and explained the harmful side of pornography as well as the truth behind how the images are produced. She’s also limited access to his phone and the family iPad and keeps devices downstairs at night. But she can’t monitor him 24 hours a day, and she’s concerned about the impact the images could have on him emotionally – and that he might accidentally stray into something extreme. She’s looking into installing protective software but doubts how effective this will be.

Do you have any advice on software to prevent him accessing pornography, or suggestions on forums or organisations she could go to for advice? How should she support him emotionally? She doesn’t want to suppress his developing sexuality or make him feel ashamed, but does need him to be safe and supported.

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