The other day, I walked into the bathroom and caught my 11-year-old son fondling his penis. Is this normal? I remember the old warning about boys going blind from this. It's not true, is it?
As kids mature physically and emotionally, they become increasingly curious about their sexuality and their own bodies.
Although infants and younger children do touch their own genitals from time to time because they like the way it feels, masturbation is more common in older kids, from the preadolescent and teen years and beyond.
Contrary to the beliefs of some, masturbation won't cause your son to grow hair on his hands, become infertile, go blind, or develop emotional problems. A small number of kids and teens with existing emotional problems may become preoccupied with masturbation — just as they may become overly occupied with other behaviors or thoughts.
Other than that, masturbation is generally considered by health care professionals to be a form of harmless self-exploration and sexuality. While some preteens and teens may choose to masturbate, others may not.
Because masturbation is often considered a private topic, kids can feel too embarrassed to talk about it, fearing that their parents will be angry or disappointed. Many may prefer to talk to older siblings, friends, or their doctors rather than a parent.
If you continue to be concerned or have questions about masturbation, you may want to talk to your child's doctor.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: July 2013
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995–2014 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.