Six Steps Parents Can Take To Protect Their Teens From Porn

Today’s post comes from our “Ask Lisa” feature, where readers submit questions they would like for me to address in an upcoming post. Anonymous writes, We recently caught our oldest son engaging in “stuff” online. Looking for some basic advice and help for our son.

If you have a subject you would like me to address in the future, please submit your question here.

 

We don’t talk about it a lot. It is the silent epidemic that affects both adults and teens. It’s pornography. Many say it is not “if” someone you love will struggle with it, it is “when.” These days, the struggle with porn isn’t just limited to males. Recent studies show a dramatic increase in pornography usage in both women and adolescent girls.

 

Sad, huh? A 2014 Barna Group survey revealed the following demographic data regarding pornography use by American adults:

 

  • Among males 18-30 years old, 79% viewed pornography once per month and 63% viewed pornography greater than once per week.

  • Among males 31-49 years old, 67% viewed pornography once per month and 38% viewed pornography greater than once per week.

  • Among females 18-30 years old, 34% viewed pornography once per month and 19% viewed pornography more than once per week.

  • Among females 31-49 years old, 16% viewed pornography once per month and 8% viewed pornography greater than once per week.

 

A recent survey of American young people revealed that 51% of males and 32% of females claimed to have viewed pornography for the first time before they were 13 years old.  Thirteen years old! In a 2012 Australian study of pornography use, men who were frequent pornography users said their first exposure was between the ages of 11 to 13 years old.  A 2009 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that 85% of adolescent males and 50% of adolescent females had been exposed to pornographic material. These are our babies, our precious children. This is not just someone else’s issue.

 

Many say, Boys will be boys. What’s the big deal?—right? Wrong.

 

Pornography is having a profound affect on our teens. Science shows that exposure to violent pornography is associated with sexually aggressive behaviors in both adolescent and adult males. For young people, one study found that viewing sexually explicit web sites increased the likelihood of having more than one sexual partner. Porn also increased the likelihood of using alcohol and drugs during sexual activity. 

 

Now we are seeing a direct linkage between teenage sexting —the sending of sexually explicit photos, images, text messages or e-mails using a mobile device— and pornography exposure.  Many female teens who view pornography find themselves in relationships where they are exploited by their partner, feeling coerced to participate in sexual acts that they object to.

 

Dr. David Berry in The Journal of Pediatrics noted the research of Bryant D. Zillman, reporting,

 

Pornography use by teens and young adults often leads to a distorted view of sexuality and its role in fostering healthy personal relationships.  These distortions include the overestimation of the prevalence of sexual activity in the community, the belief that sexual promiscuity is normal, and the belief that sexual abstinence is unhealthy.  These perspectives are likely to make it more difficult for young people to form lasting, meaningful relationships with the opposite sex, which ultimately results in more anxiety, depression, and overall life dissatisfaction.

 

The negative impact isn’t just for today, either. Pornography will have a negative effect on our teens later when they marry, creating unrealistic expectations for spouses and developing a reliance on heightened excitement and adrenaline spikes that normal sexual relationships cannot provide. The fantasy associated with porn causes individuals to lose interest in their spouses, forming a cycle of conflict and distance with their husbands or wives.

 

Parents need to understand the negative impact widespread use of pornography is having on today’s children so we can help stop this destructive influence and do our best to protect our teens. Here are six things we can do today.

 

  1. Monitor Mobile Devices

 

Though I personally don’t believe in teens having their own mobile devices, most teens today do have cell-phones, I-pads, I-pods, etc. Mobile devices are one of the most common ways teens are accessing porn. While many families have web filters installed on their home computers, filters for tablets and phones are much less common.

 

Instead of using web filters that are only installed on your family computer, try installing filters at the entry-point into your home. There are many options for routers that filter any and all internet devices in your home, as well as other similar options.

 

Make sure ALL phones, tablets, computers and other electronic devices have parental controls to help eliminate access to inappropriate material and make sure electronic devices are used in public spaces only. Isolation is a breeding ground for inappropriate activity, whether texting with friends or accessing pornography.

 

  1. Review YouTube Ads and Related Videos

 

Most kids today spend a lot of time on YouTube. Even though Google, the parent company of YouTube, has announced they will no longer allow pornographic ads on their ad services, their idea of inappropriate often looks a lot different than mine. One of the best options is AdBlock Plus, which not only turns off related videos, but also filters out ads and other questionable content.

 

  1. Control Streaming Services

 

If you are one of the millions of families who have signed up for Netflix, Hulu+, or Amazon Prime, beware. All of the new streaming services make it extremely easy for teens to access material they shouldn’t. Parents, take the time to look into each service’s filters and set up the controls you need to keep your family safe.

 

  1. Evaluate Kids’ Friends and Schoolmates

 

Our teens’ friends can be extremely difficult to monitor and control. What do you do when one of your child’s schoolmates exposes your son or daughter to pornography? It’s hard to filter out a friend. You can’t keep your child locked away forever in order to keep them away from problem kids. 

 

The best prevention is to consistently instill in your children healthy Biblical principles of living a life honoring to God, having a strong enough sense of self to do the right thing even when no one else is looking, developing clear boundaries, and knowing what being a good friend looks like, even to those who are making poor choices.

 

  1. Watch Out for Video games

 

Video games may seem harmless on the surface, but many have dangerous or inappropriate content inside. Regardless of the genre, it’s important to be careful which games we allow in our homes. Parents must be proactive in determining which games you let your children play.

 

The ESRB rating system —”E for Everyone,” “T for Teen,” etc.— can be helpful, but even then parents need to use the ratings wisely. Sit down and play the games with your kids. Watch them play. Be certain their games comply with your family standards.

 

  1. Oversee Apps like SnapChat, WhatsApp, Kik, and more

 

Apps are everywhere and our kids are finding new, more secretive ways of connecting than parents can keep up with. Don’t just assume that an app is safe or appropriate —investigate all of them. Have an ongoing conversation with your teens about what apps they use on their phones or tablets. Parents should have a no secret password policy where family members either forego the use of passwords on their devices or share their passwords with you, the parent.

 

As always, diligence is key. Parents need to take an inventory periodically of which apps your kids have downloaded, what they seem to spend most time on, and what the purpose or content of the app entails. If necessary, use a service like Screen Time Parental Controls which allows you to set time limits, block calls from strangers, and more.

 

What To Do If You Discover Your Teen Has Developed an Addiction to Porn

 

Sometimes we as parents find out about our child’s pornography usage and/or addiction after the fact. Please do not overlook the situation or think that because you have had the talk, everything is probably fine. It’s usually not.

 

Don't overlook the situation or think because youv'e had the talk, everything is fine. It’s not. Click To Tweet

 

Get your teen help. Find a good, Christian counselor that can work with them to understand and process through the distorted images they have seen, help them grow a strong sense of self built on strong core beliefs and values, assist them in developing healthy emotional regulation and impulse control, as well as identify the qualities of normal, healthy adult relationships.

 

Help your teen when they can’t help themselves. There are accountability programs like Covenant Eyes that will notify you and/or other accountability partners to help your teen stay safe. They can also benefit from support provided by SA groups for teens and other therapy groups.

 

At the end of the day, there’s no perfect way to protect our children from the growing pornographic content they are bombarded with on a daily basis. What parents can do is be aware, be vigilant, be consistent, and be present.

 

Give your children and teens plenty of extra-curricular activities to help keep them invested in positive outlets. Instill in them the need for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Model for them an active, dynamic faith. Give them the gift of love. Most of all, give them the gift of prayer.

 

Ephesians 6:12 (NIV) says, For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

 

Ephesians 6:12 (NIV) says, For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.Click To Tweet

 

Let’s fight the good fight on behalf of our children.

 


Blessings,

Lisa

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3 Comments

  1. Both good and bad, this is part of the reason that I cancelled television service all together almost six years ago now. Main stream television is dumbing down and making acceptable many things I’d prefer my kids not to see, many things I’d rather not watch myself. On the brighter side, we spend a heck of a lot more time outdoors! But I sure miss football Sundays after church lol.
    Visiting from Holly Barrett!

    • lisamurray

      June 6, 2017 at 7:32 AM

      What a courageous step to take for your family. I’m sure you are feeling the benefit from the simplicity and protection you are offering them. Blessings to you!

  2. This is a real problem that hurts a lot of people and I’m thankful that you’ve addressed it so thoughtfully. Web filters don’t catch everything. Tumblr and Instagram are both real problems, I’ve found. You’ve offered some great advice here. Thank you for linking with Grace and Truth last week. I would love to feature this post on Friday.

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