Porn addiction is a legitimate threat to kids and teens in an age of increasing access to high-speed Internet and personal Internet browsing devices such as iPads and smartphones. The effects of hardcore, high-speed Internet pornography on the brains of young viewers are grave, setting them up for porn addiction and skewed views of women and healthy adult sexuality. Read on to learn how you can help protect your children from the dangers of online pornography.
Parents who don’t consume pornography themselves are often oblivious to the effects of pornography on young minds, and ignorant about what is available for free to all ages via the Internet. Without seeking out potentially dangerous or addictive content yourself, understand that free and increasingly hardcore pornography is readily available. To better understand the threat porn presents, visit YourBrainOnPorn.com.
You know your son or daughter is such a good kid — you can’t imagine that porn would even be an issue. Wake up. Even if your child isn’t viewing porn at home or finding secret stashes, he or she very well may be seeing images and experimenting with free-reign Internet when visiting friends. Many children, no matter how innocent they appear, have been exposed to it either of their own volition or by friends or older siblings by the age of 14, many as young as 10 or 11. Don’t wait until you discover questionable behavior to have the talk. Preempt it by discussing what is and is not appropriate in the home surrounding sexual behavior and Internet usage.
Find Out What the School Is Teaching About Sex and Pornography
You can’t assume that your child’s school will teach him or her about sex in a way that is in line with your family’s values about sex and sexuality. A discussion about pornography may or may not be a part of the sexual education curriculum. Find out what the school is teaching so you can amend the teaching at home or fill in the gaps.
Don’t Minimize the Issue
If know your teen is already experimenting with pornography, this isn’t something you need to let him just figure out for himself. Pornography is highly addictive and has the potential to impact his future sex life, as well as his view of women and safe, loving, healthy adult sexual conduct. Address the issue as you would address alcohol, drug or tobacco use.
Teach Kids What Porn Does to the Brain
If your child has gone through a school program in drug education, he or she has a framework for understanding addiction and the chemical changes that take place in the brain. Show that porn stimulates the brain in the same way that drugs do, appealing to the brain’s reward center and retraining your brain to see that porn is the answer to loneliness, stress, fear and other negative emotions. But porn goes a step further than drugs. Even when one stops using it (which is hard enough to do once a taste for it has been developed), the images and scenes linger in the memory, continually calling the user back. You can detox the body from drugs and alcohol, but you cannot detox the memory.
Teach Respect for Women and Sexual Boundaries
Women are frequently objectified in pornography, and violent, assault-style porn is a common genre. With frequent viewing, this style of sex begins to become normal and desirable to the viewer. It is hard for young men to learn respect for women and their sexual boundaries when the videos they view each day show women enjoying violent sex and rape. Over time, the natural mental barriers between right and wrong, appropriate and inappropriate, erode. In the especially impressionable and highly plastic brains of young viewers, many of whom have never had a sexual relationship with a woman and have no established framework for what “normal” sex looks like, this sets the new norm for how women are to be treated and what they desire in a romantic relationship.
Help Children to Hold a High View of Sex
Many parents avoid the topic of sex, leaving this essential education to schools and mainstream media. When parents discuss sex honestly and openly with their children, and communicate their values around sex, kids learn that sex is something to be valued and to be taken seriously. Teaching children that sex is an act of love between two people, not the pornographic scenes and random body parts flashed across a computer screen, will help to dispel the myth that porn is what sex should look like. Teach them what real intimacy means and they will carry that into their future relationships.
In addition to educating your children about the dangers of pornography, parents need to go a step further. Though your children may hear and understand your message, you cannot have your eyes on them at all times. Take the necessary precautions of installing reliable filters on all devices your children use for Internet browsing including smartphones, iPads, etc.
Don’t wait for porn use or abuse to become an issue before taking the necessary steps and precautions. Your child’s mental health and sexual future depend on it.