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Without a doubt in my mind, porn is the greatest threat to our children’s view of sex. As a sex educator, I’m constantly fighting against the influence of porn. Twenty-five percent of the time a person is looking online for anything, it’s to look for explicit content. Within seconds, any viewer has millions of options (who are real people) to choose from. Sexual desires are then shaped and molded into something very different than they were pre-exposure. Kids have developing brains and are therefore most at risk for drastic change as they consume something totally unrealistic. Porn is a traumatic lie at best, but abusive, addictive, and life-altering at worst.
Research shows that explicit material is formative for humans, shaping our attitudes and desires. The brain of a child is particularly malleable; it’s why kids can learn a language so quickly or pick up a new skill easily. The neural pathways in our brains grow stronger or weaker based on what we’re doing with our time. Including our screen time. The brain’s dopamine releases have a beautiful impact on us in daily life. Conversely, it can create tendencies that are extremely harmful to our health, depending on what the dopamine release is for.
In a marriage (or any sexual relationship) dopamine release during sex bonds us to our mate, creating connection and intimacy. In porn, users bond to their screen and to the content they’re consuming. Thus, the desire for use grows and addiction begins. Will porn impact my kids before they leave the ‘nest’? Sadly, this answer is unequivocally ‘yes.’ It is no longer a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when.’ We can be prepared for what that reality means though. There’s a famous C.S. Lewis quote from his book, The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses. He writes the following in regards to worldly desires we all have:
“It would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink & sex & ambition when infinite joy is offered us. Like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea-we are far too easily pleased.”

Kids do need to learn that the world is interacting with the equivalent of mud pies, which may offer them entertainment or satisfaction for a moment, but will leave them feeling dirty, unamused, hungry, and looking for the next pile of slop once they finish there. Desires lived out that way just won’t give us the joy we are looking for! There is no lasting fulfillment to be found in mud or wayward desires.It’s our job to love and nurture our children, but also to guide them towards healthy decision making by engaging in discussion about ‘why mud pies’ won’t do us good.

So how can we fight this growing addiction? There are several actions we can take.

  1. Conversations about sex in the home are an important start. Discussions should include understanding the purpose of sex and the destructive nature of porn (or awareness of ‘bad images’ for littles). Start when they are little by helping them name their bodies correctly, modeling respect and consent with touch (ex: not all adults need to kiss and hug your child, particularly if they don’t want to be touched by them), and highlight God’s perfect design for our bodies which He made well. The younger you begin on conversations, the easier it will be later on (and less embarrassing).
  2. Related to porn use, conversations must include talking about emotions. For example, what does your child do when they are angry, sad, frustrated, overwhelmed, disappointed, or burdened? Where do they go for comfort or release? This is a huge gap, especially with young boys. Put a rich vocabulary of words to emotions, describing and discussing feelings. Then, show kids how to handle the emotions in a healthy manner (pray, journal, talk, hobbies, counseling, family time, read, exercise) by modeling it. When kids don’t know how to express emotions appropriately, they may feel drawn into porn. See a great resource of Jay Stringers on this matter here.
  3. Share any phone or social media accounts together. You can also purchase Bark technologies, Gabb phones, Pinwheel phones, or choose Covenant Eyes for kids(see that link for 30 days free). There are many filtering options available online with reviews. Always utilize parental controls, but know kids will find what they are looking for if they really want to, thus getting around the barriers. This will help prevent accidental viewing to some degree.
  4. Let them grow up discussing the purpose and value of sex. In that, don’t shy away from the dangers of lies and myths or likely addiction in regards to porn and erotica.

Do you need help talking to kids? You’re in the right place! See my push and play curriculum for your family. There is nothing like it anywhere on the web.

The average age a child first sees explicit content is 9 years young. After the shock of initial exposure, a person can become acclimated to porn. Where at first a nude picture was exciting, users then explore more unusual subject matter, typing wishful fantasies into search engines. This is the story of so many porn users. Time and time again you’ll hear of people who’ve tried to stop watching as they recognize its harm and just can’t. Addiction is real. Recognizing marked behavioral differences in your child’s life (especially paired with screen time) could point to porn use and catch issues early. Seek help quickly with counseling, mentoring, fellowship, and accountability. Utilize discipline and create clear boundaries moving forward because you love your child, not because you desire to shame them. Conversation and love, not silence and shame, are answers. Look to the Lord in prayer and His word for guidance as you navigate.

For such a time as this,
Kristen
ADA Compliance