Tattoos and piercings have been popular for many centuries in various cultures. It is obvious from walking around in any western city today that extreme tattoos and piercings are becoming more popular than ever.
I don't have children myself, but have had conversations with many parents about their reactions to their child wanting to get a tattoo or piercing. Tattoos and extreme piercings are often a way for people to express their individuality, nonconformity, or creativeness. It is important that parents not overreact with negativity if their child expresses an interest in getting a tattoo or piercing; such a reaction is unlikely to result in a positive outcome. If a parent has strong feelings about piercings or tattoos it might be wise to initiate discussions on the topic when the child is relatively young (before their friends start getting them).
Age limits for tattoos and piercing vary by state. Rules for piercing ear lobes are sometimes looser than for other places on the body. It might be a relief to many parents that usually a minor cannot typically get a tattoo or (non-ear) piercing without at least written parental consent (many states don't even allow them for minors even with parental permission).
Important topics to discuss about tattoos and piercings:
1) Safety - These videos on tattoos and body piercings are worth watching. This short article about tattoo risks is worth reading. Go to a clean, professional parlor or shop. Don't get pierced or tattooed by untrained friends, at parties, or street fairs. Ask the artist about their experience and safety procedures.
2) Select designs and placement carefully!
Don't tattoo boyfriends, girlfriends, actors, sports team names, or obscenities on your body. Relationships and tastes change. Although there have been improvements in tattoo removal technology, it usually takes multiple treatments, is expensive, and some people say that it is more painful than the original tattoos. Angelina Jolie has had several tattoos removed because of changing situations.
Discuss the benefits of placing tattoos in discrete areas, which can be covered with normal clothing when desired. Tattoos are sometimes associated with gang or clans. In some countries, people with extreme tattoos may get undesired attention from law enforcement. Certain types of tattoos may preclude service in the military or some civilian organizations.
3) Keep any freshly tattooed or pierced area clean. Use high quality materials. See a doctor if there are any complications.
Note: I don't really have all the tattoos shown in my photo (body courtesy of www.faceinhole.com).