When you compare today’s media environment to what we experienced as a teenager/young adult, what’s been the most impactful change?
Answer: Without question, the most impactful change has been how easily young boys (and girls) can access pornography. In the past, porn was available primarily in magazines and XXX bookstores. Nowadays, of course, pornography is just a click away.
A Tru Research study of over 2,000 teens, ages 13-17, found that a third admit to intentionally accessing nude or pornographic content online, 43% of those weekly; and 71% of them said they had done something to hide what they do online from their parents (this includes clearing browser history, deleting inappropriate videos, lying about behaviour). Another comprehensive survey found that more than one quarter (27%) of young adults ages 25-30 first viewed pornography before puberty (pornphenomenon.com). Plus, we’ve all heard the stories of primary and secondary school students sexting risqué/nude photos of themselves or others – becoming not just consumers, but providers.
Is all this simply an innocent rite of passage? Not hardly! The research is pretty clear that porn use is wreaking havoc in the bedroom (not spicing it up), increasing depression and anxiety, stress and social problems.
So, what is the answer? Short of writing a thesis on the subject, let us just say that the first step, as difficult as it may seem, is for parents to pre-emptively sit their young person down for a chat on the subject. Ask if they’ve accessed porn intentionally. Accidentally? What about their friends? Discuss what it means to live a porn-free life (including saying no to inappropriate movies/TV). Be sure your young person knows he/she can be honest without fear of reprisal, and that you’ll be there to help no matter what.
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