mom over shoulder looking at teen watching porn

Parents generally freak out when their child is accidentally exposed to pornographic material while innocently playing or surfing the web. Take, for example, a Dad in his early 60’s who had kids late in the game. He is cooking at home while his 9-year-old son is sitting in the kitchen and playing Minecraft on his Ipad. All of a sudden the Dad starts to hear noises……those noises, the porn kind of noises. He flies to the Ipad with not a second to spare as his immediate reaction is to save his son from the horrors of porn. Not too familiar with how the Ipad works, he stumbles and fumbles to get those noises to stop, finally, he does. Horrified and anxious, Dad walks back to his cooking station and resumes his work while his son continues to play Minecraft.

Accidental exposure to online pornographic material happens more than many parents think. According to the Crimes Against Children Research Center at The University of New Hampshire, 42 percent of children 10-17 years old have seen online porn and among those, 66 percent were exposed accidentally.

According to cyber safety expert Greg Oliver, about 90 percent of teens have seen online pornography and 70 percent did so accidentally. According to his research, the average age of first exposure to online pornography is 8-11 years old.

Parents, cover your eyes if you don’t want to see a few other alarming statistics:

• One out of every 10 visitors to a porn site is younger than 10

• 10 percent of seventh graders worry that they might be addicted to porn

• 64 percent of 13- to 24-year-olds actively seek out porn weekly or more often

While unwanted exposure to online pornography is unpleasant for most of us, the bigger concern and focus of many researchers, therapists, and pediatricians is the effect that frequent exposure to pornography has on the brains, attitudes, and beliefs of adolescents.

What does pornography teach our kids about love and sex?

Research has found that watching pornography negatively affects attitudes and beliefs about women, relationships, and sex. The research has consistently concluded that men who watch pornography are statistically more likely to victimize women, an alarming thought given that 64 percent of 13-24-year-olds watch pornography weekly or more often.

If you are wondering just how much violence is in pornography, one study called, Aggression and Sexual Behavior in Best-Selling Pornography Videos, looked at the 50 most popular porn videos and found that 88 percent of them had scenes with violence and/or verbal aggression.

According to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, 53 percent of boys between the ages of 11 and 16 said they thought pornography depicted a realistic impression of sex. If over half of boys who watch pornography believe it is a realistic representation of sex, we are in big trouble. Furthermore, many boys admitted that they wanted to copy the behavior they had seen watching porn. More than a third of 13- to 14-year-olds, and a fifth of 11- to 12-year-olds wanted to repeat porn acts.

In England, the Daily Mail reported that pornography has resulted in a 400 percent increase in child-on-child assaults. Last year an 11-year-old boy was charged with 7 counts of rape and sexual assault after he watched similar sex acts online. The detectives investigating the case reported that there was a direct link between what the boy watched and what he did.

What should parents do?

The Dad described in the beginning of this piece did what a lot of parents do; nothing. As a parent, you simply can’t let your own discomfort get in the way of a parenting moment like this. Your kids rely on you to teach them about what is appropriate and what is not, and if left to their own devices to figure it out, they will most like turn to Google, which obviously isn’t where you want your child to learn about sex, love, and pornography.

Yes, it is important to talk openly about pornography with your kids. Adolescents need to be educated about the effects of watching pornography on their developing brains, and they need real information about intimacy to combat the distorted messages that pornographic films deliver.

But, as parents, you can’t just wait for some awkward experience to trigger the tough conversation.

Parenting today requires that you are involved and aware of where your kids are going online, who they are talking to, and what kind of information they are accessing. If you don’t know what the other influences are in your child’s life, then your parenting can’t be as effective as you would like it to be. Social Judo will send a parent an alert every time a child Googles words like porn and sex, and it will send an alert if a child is talking about anything sexual on any social media platform, email, or online chat. It is the most comprehensive parenting tool and an absolute must for every parent who wants to be smarter.

The most dangerous place for a parent to be is in the dark and it is every parent’s right and responsibility to raise their children in a way that is consistent with their own values and morals. Consider Social Judo as the light that will get you out of the dark. If you let the internet be the guiding influence and primary source of information for your child, not only will you miss important parenting moments, but you might also wake up one day and wonder who raised your child?

 

Andrea Difilippo is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, nationally recognized parenting expert and Chief Parenting Officer with Social Judo.