pornography-useIt’s not a matter of if kids will see pornography, but when. On the Internet, at any time in every home, any child can see explicit content in just a few clicks.

Since it’s virtually impossible to “porn-proof ” your family, how can parents teach young people how to avoid it and how to manage accidental exposure to it?

Pervasive Pornography

It is estimated that 30% of all data transferred on the Internet is pornographic and that all the 400,000-plus pornographic websites had about 450 million visitors a month combined—more than the monthly viewership of Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined.

Parents need to talk with their children about sex and pornography before they become teenagers. Statistics show that both male and female children see pornography at an increasingly younger age–usually before they are emotionally or psychologically prepared to process it. And they learn from pornography an unhealthy and unrealistic view of sexuality. It’s called the “pornification of sex.”

Parental Reaction

It is easy for concerned parents to panic when they learn that their kids are watching pornography, but shaming the behavior can lead to serious addiction down the road. Shame can set in motion a vicious cycle of sex and pornography addiction, as children who are humiliated or punished for looking at pornography may simply learn to hide it and turn to it more and more to feel relief from guilt. Before long, they may be unable to function without it, which is dangerous especially for teens, who are still forming their identities. As they hide their addiction, they begin to lead a double life, and begin to identify themselves as a “porn addict.”

A healthy response is for parents to talk openly with their children. Help your child see you as an ally to fight the problem together. Children need to feel safe going to mom and dad and talking about it.

Parents can teach children why pornography is harmful. When parents simply tell children that pornography is “bad,” then children who are attracted to pornography begin to think they are bad people. Parents need to explain why pornography is bad.

Much of the information in this post is adapted from the article “How to talk to your child about the negative effects of porn.”

See LDS resources on avoiding and overcoming pornography.

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