Purdue University Graduate School
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Navigating a taboo topic in parent-child communication: Young adult stories about conversations with their parents about pornography

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posted on 2021-07-29, 20:59 authored by Joshua D JohnsonJoshua D Johnson

Although many communication scholars have explored how parents and children navigate difficult conversations about taboo topics, little to no research exists concerning pornography, specifically from the perspective of the child. To fill this research gap, the following qualitative study utilized a narrative framework and methodology to explore characteristics in parent-child conversations about pornography that illicit positive or negative perceptions from children about those conversations. 18 young adults (18-25 years old) participated in semi-structured interviews in which they shared stories about conversations they had with their parents about pornography. Five major themes surfaced from the thematic analysis of the data: (1) open/closed relationship, (2) discussion-/lecture-based conversation structure, (3) specificity/ambiguity of conversation details, (4) affirmation/denial of curiosity, and (5) appropriate/inappropriate conversation context. The findings have theoretical implications and contextual contributions for family communication scholars in further exploring the topic of pornography as well as practical insights for parents to reflect upon in seeking to strengthen their conversations about pornography with their children.


Degree Type

  • Master of Arts


  • Communication

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Emily Buehler

Additional Committee Member 2

Felicia Roberts

Additional Committee Member 3

Jake Burdick

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