What are the effects of porn on the developing mind and blooming sexuality of children?
I have had parents and concerned spouses reach out to me, anxiously curious to see if the state of the internet is hurting their family.
The state of porn today has transformed drastically over the last 50 years. Take a journey back in time there are stories of how kids snuck into their parents Playboy or Penthouse magazine stash, or found a dusty VHS to play when they were home alone.
These were the days when obtaining porn took planning, payment, and imagination to bring images to life in one’s minds eye. The once elusive playboys have been replaced by a ubiquitous ever expanding digital stockpile of porn.
Today every human, young and old who has a smart phone, literally, has porn at their fingertips with a simple search and click.
Dr. Alvin Cooper described the state of modern internet pornography as the triple A engine, its “accessible, affordable, and anonymous”.
Why are kids clicking on such sites and what is the effect of this omnipresent porn machine on developing minds?
In a society that shys away from talking about sex and pleasure as part of the sexual health conversation, kids are turning towards the internet to answer their taboo questions. To fill in the pleasure gaps between the reproductive sex-ed slides that warn against STD’s and pregnancy, kids are looking to porn to teach them how things work and validate their confusing urges that are generally shamed and shut down as dirty and inappropriate. Although porn has the potential to normalize sexual desire, fantasy and pleasure, it is not a suitable replacement for comprehensive sexual eduction for developing minds.
Today there are growing trends of film makers creating ethical or feminist porn that portrays actors with all body, race, ad ability types, using consent and safety, but most mainstream free porn promotes unrealistic expectations of body proportions, gender roles, and positions. No one is telling the 12 year old that the average penis size is not 12.5 inches and that most women do not have double D breasts that defy gravity, nor do they portray what the mechanics of sex look like for most people.
Parents and worried wives wonder; is porn addictive? Is internet pornography breaking my husbands, my sons penis?
Currently there is not enough scientific evidence to definitively claim that watching pornography is addictive, however, binge watching porn can certainly negatively impact real life relationships.
When the brain is accustomed to being hyper stimulated with images and videos for masturbation, it can lead to people having a harder time being aroused enough during reciprocal sexual acts that do not involve sexually explicit material.
Most kids today grow up interacting with a screen and are extraordinarily fluent digital citizens. As parents and adults, modeling moderate use of the internet and technology is a huge first step to providing balanced habits for children.
Talking to your kids openly and honestly about sex not only satiates their current questions so they are less likely to turn to google, but it also models that you are an ask-able, safe resource for their sex ridden questions. Parents must also discuss the power of the internet and help prepare their kids with the tools and a balanced perspective to responsibly navigate the porn logged internet landscape. It is unavoidable. Sooner or later kids will stumble upon porn and providing them with accurate information will help them make informed decisions about their personal porn use.
Simply talking to your kids or your spouse with your full attention (no phone in hand nor computer near by), making eye contact and making conversation creates connection and shows a willingness to be vulnerable, real, and intimate.
Here are some simple tools to arm yourself with to help protect you and your family from being negatively effected by porn: