Boys and masturbation

Yesterday we talked about what bits of information are important for a girl to know about masturbation. Today we’ll be talk about what bits of information are important for a parent or other trusted adult to tell a boy about masturbation. Some things are the same, and some are different, but mostly there are just more things that are helpful for boys to know.

  • Masturbation is a private activity. (This is often more relevant for younger children and toddlers to learn.)
  • Masturbation normal and healthy.
  • Almost all boys masturbate, and particularly as teenagers, with some regularity.
  • Lotion is a good idea, get yourself some or ask a parent to get you some.
  • What to do with the socks or t-shirts or whatever after using them to clean up. Notably, not flush them down the toilet or throw them away.
  • His imagination is his best friend. Porn will only make it more difficult to transition to actual sex with a real girl. And nobody wants that.
  • Masturbation is a great, completely safe way to have lots of fun with a girlfriend or boyfriend (thanks for the reminder, Ruth!)
    • and, of course you should mention that…
  • Masturbation is fun!

Someone recently asked me if this conversation should include a discussion of moderation. Well, I don’t think so. Unless there is some indication that a boy is spending all of his time masturbating, in which case of course it’s warranted.

This information needs to come from somewhere. If it’s not going to come from a parent, the parent needs to make sure someone else steps up to the plate and winds his or her way through that conversation. Generally, boys will need some of this information earlier than other parts of it, so it really needs to come as part of an on-going discussion about sex and sexuality.

But what do you think? What else do you think is important for boys to learn about masturbation?

About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.


  1. “His imagination is his best friend. Porn will only make it more difficult to transition to actual sex with a real girl. And nobody wants that.”

    I’d have to disagree with that.

    I’ll agree with your imagination is your best friend.

    But I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with erotic media. I think that telling your son that the women in mainstream porn have been altered and airbrushed to look like a supposed idea of perfection and that the women who were in the shots didn’t look like that before they had the shot is a good idea. I think that encouraging your son to examine the sexism and commodification of desire in mainstream porn is a good idea. I think encouraging usage of non-mainstream porn if he uses porn at all is a great idea. (FINDING it can be tricky, especially if you don’t live in a metropolitan area.) I don’t know if you’re familiar with “Found” but it’s a mag/book where people send in items they’ve found in various places. There’s an erotic version called Dirty Found that is a wonderful display of peoples desires… polaroids of people’s bodies, smutty letters, etc. ( It’s pansexual and not only allows you to see the desires of other people, it’s also quite hot.

    There’s also the entire genres of “gonzo” and “amateur” porn, which, whereas it still has plenty of Hollywood-porn overtones, is a bit better in that it’s average people having sex with average people.

  2. Nice perspective, thanks for sharing!

  3. Sounds like good common sense information to me, much better than I got when I was growing up in the puritianical 1950’s. Come to think of it I didn’t get ANY information back then. I did wonder if my frequent masturbating was doing me any harm. I also had the crazy idea that all that jacking off was what was making my penis bigger. Of course it was just normal puberty that was doing that! Not that a lack of information or the wrong information (it will stunt for growth or make you go blind!) was stopping any of us from doing it you understand! It just felt too damn good!

    The sad thing is that 60 years later you look at the teen message board and all that misinformation and lack of information about mastubation is still there. We seem to have not to have progressed at all in the field of sex eduation…and that is a pretty sad thing in my most humble and most ancient opinion!

  4. It’s not about encouraging youths to seek porn. It’s about, if youths are already looking at porn, letting them know that many many people do it already and there’s nothing wrong with it.

    Also, I think porn and masturbation is a good healthy outlet for teens who aren’t ready to take on the emotional and physical responsibility of partnersex, who can’t find partners, or who don’t wish to engage in partnersex at the time. It’s surely better than STD or pregnancy (or scares of said effects) or greater emotional turmoil.

    And what’s this about “Why overstimulate what is usually an unharnessed male teen imagination?” 1.) how do you know it’s overstimulation? What do you define as overstimulation anyway?

    2.) What’s WRONG with having an “unharness male teen imagination”? As we get older, many people have problems with fantasizing because they’ve been self-censoring for so long. An unharnessed, active imagination is healthy, whether sexual or not. Using one’s brain and coming up with new things is a healthy thing, no matter the age. Daydreaming is an extremely healthy and stress relieving activity. Sexual daydreaming even more so.

  5. Crystal, a lot of research into that subject suggests that your “comments” are inaccurate. There has not been shown to be any causal relation between viewing porn and incidence of rape or sexual assault, especially among teen males. Quite the opposite, in fact. In societies where porn is freely available, the per capita incidence of rape is lower than in societies where it isn’t.

    Literally millions and millions of young people watch porn and don’t do anything other than fantasize with it.

    The appropriate way to address porn with young people is to put it into its appropriate context. Tell them what it is (fantasy), what it isn’t (reflective of what real sexuality is all about), how to use it (fantasy fodder, idea generation), and how not to use it (sex education). Someone who gets their ideas of how sex should be from porn will, as Dr. Rayne suggests, have trouble transitioning to “real sex.” If you don’t address the issue with them (young people), “discourage” it (as Crystal suggests), gloss over it or ignore it altogether, that is exactly what can happen.

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