How to Protect Your Teen from the Dangers of Pornography
- Matt Haviland Founder, A Father's Walk
- Updated Jan 19, 2016
According to some of the latest research:
The average age children are first exposed to pornography on the Internet is 11.
The largest consumers of Internet pornography are within the ages of 12 to 17.
42% of kids see porn before they become teenagers; and 73% will be exposed to it before they are adults.
This is also not gender biased, as over 50% of girls (compared to 70-80% of boys) have not only witnessed pornography online, but often it is cases of group or same sex intercourse.
Our families are under full-blown assault and our children are becoming the greatest casualties! This is such a large and complex subject to cover and we will only scratch the surface within this article, so I highly encourage you to begin doing your homework on how to guard you and your family when it comes to online activity.
What Porn Does to a Teenager’s Mind
News flash: Teens are super dramatic! Surely they want to blame it on the old adage that we parents are lame and couldn’t possibly understand what they are going through or feeling. Nah, that couldn’t possibly be it. (Been there, done that- right?) But there actually is some scientific data that backs up why adolescents can be so dramatic. During this time the brain begins to “reprogram” itself, preparing for the transition from childhood into adulthood. One major change is the loss of unused connections in the “grey matter” of the brain, while other connections are being formed. As the brain adapts to new growth and environment, some parts carry the weight of another, thus adding a bit of “spice” to what may normally be a natural function of that particular area. A teen’s brain can be very influential during this time, which makes pornography so incredibly dangerous.
When we view stimulating images our brains release massive amounts of chemicals: namely dopamine, norepinephrine, and oxytocin. Now, God has designed the function of each chemical to be used in our daily life and healthy sexuality; but when abused outside of His will, it can become a chaotic elixir of sexual and emotional stimuli. Just like a drug, this release can cause a euphoric reaction with strong emotional and mental ties. And, if repeated again and again, will become addictive and eventually require more and more to attain the same results. Do you see the deadly trap that is set? A young person that is extremely vulnerable to emotions and mental influence in the first place is now going up against one of the most aggressive and destructive forces they will ever face! How can they stand a chance?!
How it Affects the Sexes
Pornography is set up as a one way street: you only receive and never have to give. If you get bored with one partner, off they go and new entertainment is but a click away. There is never any talk back, the need to bond with another, no output of emotions…nothing. Just get yours and move on. Just think of the message this sends to our youth! It burns the thought into boys that women are nothing more than mere sex objects and completely disposable. And if a young man ever does decide to pursue a relationship with a girl, he is absolutely ill-equipped to lead her and invest in her outside of a superficial level. For our girls it sends the message of a false love. They never have to be pursued or have a boy win their heart. Just “give it up” and keep him happy physically and she is sure he will be hers forever. Isn’t it so obvious the girls in the movies enjoy what they are doing? So sex CAN equal love, right? WRONG! I read one interview of a pornography producer that spilled a few behind the scenes secrets. The main point that really stuck out to me was how the producer admitted he cut out all of the scenes where the girls are expressing any emotions outside of enjoyment. As he put it, it would be really counter-productive to sales and promotion if we saw the girls crying, in pain, or anything else that may make us think twice from watching the video. Disgusting. This is nothing less than sex trafficking and it is being sold to our sons and daughters as admirable, appropriate, and even expected.
What Parents Can Do
First off, ask yourself if this is something you struggle with too. If it is, address it right away. Ephesians 5:11-12 tells us, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.” (NKJV) As parents, we simply cannot lead and protect our families from something if we are engaged in the very same sin! Come clean before God, someone you can trust, and your spouse. Satan only operates in the dark, but Jesus rescues and restores us in the light.
Second, have an open conversation with your children. Discuss with them the dangers of pornography, what the Bible says about it, and the lie it truly is. Once you have established a firm foundation of facts and trust, ask them to be open and let you know if they have been or are currently engaging in pornography. If they have, please remember the courage it took for them to admit it and the respect they showed by telling you. Handle it in an age appropriate manner and surely let them know your home is a safeguard against condemnation- but a fortress of love and security. If they can have these conversations with you on a regular basis, I am sure your family will thrive on so many different levels.
Finally, remove any barriers that threaten your family’s safety and integrity. Set household rules such as all electronic devices off at a certain time (yours too) and placed out in the open for the night. Keep all computers in family areas such as the living room, so there are never any closed doors. Lastly, install safety net devices such as Covenant Eyes on all Internet devices such as phones, tablets, and computers. This way the filter will guard what comes through and the weekly reports will keep everyone accountable on what they view.
Look, our enemy has one objective: to steal, kill, and destroy. There is no doubt he has a mean grip in our homes with the destructive nature of pornography. Although we cannot fend for everyone else- we can definitely protect our own home. Parents, take action NOW- don’t wait! Each unprotected moment that passes our kids are put in harm’s way. On the flip side, God has given us the Biblical mandate to raise our kids in Christ and protect them from the influences of the world. When we rise to this calling as Christian parents we not only bring our kids closer to Christ, but we bring Christ where He belongs- into the center of our homes.
Article originally published on eatingmanna.com.
Matt Haviland is the founder of “A Father’s Walk” single dad ministry, the author of “A Father’s Walk: A Christian-Based Resources for Single Fathers” and the coauthor of “The Daddy Gap”. He currently lives with his wife and daughter in his hometown of Grand Rapids, MI and is the co-founder of the Grand Rapids Single Parenting Expo. For more information on the ministry and how to form a single dad small group in your own church, please visit www.afatherswalk.org.
Publication date: January 19, 2016