Concerns about Porn and Children

We just launched our newly updated and expanded resource on “Screens and Your Child” last month, so we thought we’d share part of the information we’re adding to that resource.

When it comes to the actual content of technology, pornography is the most central concern we have, and we have found that most parents (including ourselves!) regularly underestimate this threat. Surveys constantly show that most children today have seen pornography online, that the average age at which they first encountered porn, including violent porn, was below the age of eight, and that most of their parents were unaware of what they had seen. 

The Issue

Remember that pornography is a billion-dollar international industry that is targeting your children, particularly your sons. Pornographers know how addictive their product is and how it shapes the worldview of children in a fundamental way. Their goal is to shape your child into a lifelong customer. 

Although pornography appeals to a child’s sexual curiosity and sexual desire, another component that pornographers deliberately incorporate is guilt and shame. Porn creators want to make a child feel guilty and ashamed for viewing porn, in much the same way that a sexual predator tries to make their victim feel ashamed of being victimized. This is one reason why porn has grown much more violent and much more filthy: as society gets more and more impure, the bar for what people are ashamed of seeing gets lower and lower. 

Shame is what gives porn its particular addictive “kick,” and pornographers know this, so they make their content as shame-inducing as possible. Ironically, porn rewires the brain so that the person using porn associates sex with shame, which may make the person unable to enjoy the good, holy and natural pleasure of sexual intimacy in marriage. People who use porn may come to think of sex as bad, even evil! 

Given that studies show that porn can be more addictive than meth, a person may become addicted to the self-centered pleasure of masturbation, which porn encourages and practically requires. A person who gets used to associating sex with masturbation may suffer from sexual confusion, including gender confusion. Mastrubation that’s deliberately engaged in is a grave evil because it negates the gift that sex is meant to be and locks a person into a selfish view of sex as personal pleasure. Porn and masturbation limit freedom! 

Viewing porn may have the reverse effect as well: a child who encounters porn may be simply repelled by what they see and come to associate ALL sex with violence, coercion, and even evil. In particular, girls who view porn may become disgusted by sex, boys, and men, and might seek refuge in same-sex relationships. Believing the lies that porn tells about sex and sexual desire can destroy a person’s view of the good, loving, and sacred relationship of marital intimacy.

It’s hard to imagine a more insidious evil than porn. Not only does it trap a child, teen, or adult in shame, but it renders them unable to enjoy the good and wholesome pleasure that the Lord God has given us in marriage! Let us spell it out: using porn jeopardizes a child’s future marriage! No wonder the Enemy pushes porn use so much!

So far, society is a long way from recognizing the threat of pornography. To date, the American Library Association can’t bring themselves to require filters on library internet computers! What this means is that parents have to lead the way in protecting their families from porn. 

Ideas and Solutions

A great resource for very young children is the book Good Pictures/Bad Pictures, which is child-friendly and trains a child to immediately turn his or her eyes away from “bad pictures.” This is a great skill to teach young children, and is just as crucial to teach them as “stranger danger.”

One first solution: install filters on every device in your home. Yes, tech-savvy kids can override filters. Yes, obnoxious content can still get in. But just like locking the doors to your vehicle before you leave it in a parking spot, filtering software is a common-sense solution that we all should be implementing and maintaining, no matter how old your children are. Some smartphones, like iPhones, have settings to restrict content. Turn those on. There are also apps in the Apple store. Search “parental controls” or “porn blocker” for your brand of phone. We recommend Covenant Eyes, Bark, or NetNanny. FYI, Covenant Eyes is an accountability software that can help adults who are struggling with porn addiction. 

Another common-sense solution is passwords on all devices. Set passwords on phones, tablets, and computers. Some computers can be set to lock when the adult using them walks away from the screen. 

 

Recovering from porn addiction is a long, hard road but parents are there to give their struggling children hope. While prevention is the best cure, parents need to walk beside teens who are struggling with this and help them achieve freedom. Dads, model to your children that you yourself have to keep yourself in check and model walking in purity and accountability.

Although widespread porn is a new and devilish feature of today’s society, the battle for purity is as old as the Garden of Eden. The Church has resources and weapons to share with us including the Rosary, spiritual warfare, and prayer. Do not lose hope! Christ’s suffering and death has set us free, and He wants us to walk in that freedom. 

Want more ideas about tech use in your home? Download the free resource.

Find more information on our podcasts “What every parent needs to know about screens and technology,” “Screens and your child,” and “Technology and Kids.” and “Can Kids use Technology with Virtue?”