When should you have the 'birds and bees' talk to children in this digital age?

A Tauranga counsellor says parents need to wake up to the fact that technology has changed everything when it comes to having that conversation about the birds and the bees with their kids.

As a counsellor working with young people, Denise McEnteer says she sees everyday how technology is disrupting childhood and puberty for our kids.

"We're no longer the compass point in our kids' lives, technology and their peers are so that sexting is actually really common in teenage years," Ms McEnteer told TVNZ1's Seven Sharp.

She says many parents assume they don't need to talk about sex with their children until the teenage years, when in actuality these talks need to start much earlier on.

"What I'm saying is quite controversial, I really think we need to bring it back to much younger and I think we need to be pretty grown up with how we're presenting.

"I think we need to use the right biological terms like penis and vagina. I think we have to actually tell it how it is, because we need to acknowledge that our children are watching it anyway," she said.

Ms McEnteer realises her advice to start sex education early may be shocking to some.

"In terms of an age I think if we've got young girls and young boys who are sexting at age nine then it probably needs to be before that.

"Which is probably horrifying for parents to hear me say that but the point is these kids are accessing them anyway."

Ms McEnteer says the most important thing parents can do is work on our relationship with our kids.

A Tauranga counsellor says parents need to wake up to the fact that devices have changed everything. Source: Seven Sharp