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Is Your Teen Addicted to Porn?

Curiosity about pornography among teens, especially teenage boys is a given. However, a generation ago, maybe that meant a sneak-peak at dad’s hidden Playboy magazines, and that was the end of it.

However, today with the ubiquity of the internet and easy access to pornography in all forms, pornography addiction can be a real problem. Even children armed with only rudimentary computer skills can unlock the floodgates to a barrage of X-rated images. It takes only a couple of mouse clicks to gain access.

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It is debatable about how moral or acceptable pornography is for adults, but there can be no doubt that it has detrimental impacts on kids to be inundated with clearly unrealistic ideas and images about sex and sexuality — before their young minds are mature enough to deal with such things.

In many ways, this easy access to porn is a reflection of the greater degradation of our society which sometimes seem hell-bent on destroying our kids, by bombarding them with media, images, and information, that their immature minds are ill-equipped to handle and process.

How Does Porn Effect Teens?

We know intuitively that porn can have negative impacts on developing teens, who have yet to possess the wisdom or maturity to know the differences between “real world” sexual intimacy and what is depicted in most pornography. Unfortunately, there have not been too many legitimate research studies that back up those assumptions. This is probably because of the shame experienced by teens who are porn addicts, which makes it very hard to have those who are thus afflicted, come forward to participate in studies. However, that does not mean there are no such studies.

For example, a 1999 study of teen boys who admitted to watching a significant amount of porn, noted the following negative impacts:

  • Imitation and modeling of inappropriate sexual behaviors
  • Unhealthy interference with the normal sexual development process
  • Emotional side effects such as nightmares and feelings of guilt, shame, anxiety, and confusion
  • Premature onset of sexual activity
  • Development of potentially harmful and misleading attitudes towards sex

In addition to the risks above, other researchers found out later on that teen pornography addiction is associated with risks such as poor social bonds and aggressive sexual patterns.

How to Tell If Your Kid Is Addicted to Porn?

Like any addiction, a pornography addiction will have some telltale signs. According to the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN), “addicts may show ADHD symptoms, be anxious or suffer from impaired concentration. They often conceal their addiction from family and friends, and can’t or are unable to stop.”

What Can Parents Do?

According to a press release on the dangers of internet porn addiction put out by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), “Parents need to have a relationship with their children that promotes open and honest communication. Studies show that kids are influenced by their parents and what they teach them about sex.  We need to talk about the ill effects of Internet pornography with our children, and give them the tools to withstand peer pressure.”  The AOA tips include:

Be aware – Check the video games and websites your children are interacting with, and the images featured.  More and more, violent or sexual images are creeping into what parents think are safe sites or games.

Limit screen time – Parents should lead by example and limit screen time with computers, tablets and mobile devices for the entire family.

Roleplay – Show your children how to set up personal boundaries with friends when encountering questionable situations, such as sharing sexual images via apps like Snapchat or texting.

Explain consequences – Let your children know that once an image is sent over the Internet, it is not possible to take it back.  In some states, teens caught sexting are now being charged as sex offenders for distributing or possessing child pornography, and some are even being sent to prison.  Also, future employers and college admissions counselors may stumble upon postings when doing research on applicants.

 

Have you ever had to deal with a teen with a porn addiction, how did you handle it? Reply in the comments below.

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