Protecting Children from Pornography Addiction: A Therapist’s Advice
By Caron C. Andrews
Pornography addiction among teenagers is a problem more and more therapists are seeing in their practices. With the ease of finding and viewing it online, it’s never been easier for people to become steeped in porn. Trent John, LPCC (Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor), is a master’s degree-educated adolescent and young adult therapist in private practice in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. Although he doesn’t specialize in pornography addiction, he does see it very often with the kids he counsels. He notes that pornography addiction affects the full range of society. “It impacts everyone from wealthy families to those living paycheck to paycheck,” John says. “It can affect kids from ‘good,’ stable families,” and kids from their tweens to their late teens. It doesn’t discriminate and there’s no formula for who can become addicted.
“Many kids are introduced to porn by accidentally stumbling across it online or by friends showing it to them,” John says. Even if your child doesn’t have a smartphone or regular internet access, most likely their friends do, and that can be enough to get your child started in the wrong direction. Family rules and limits about internet use are good protective tools, but there has to be more. “It’s not enough to just have the family computer out in the open; any internet-enabled device can access porn,” he warns. So what can parents do to protect their kids from pornography addiction?
Most importantly, John emphasizes, parents need to have open, ongoing communication with their children as a means of education and prevention. “Give your children the facts about what pornography addiction does to the brain; it’s no different from what drugs or alcohol do,” John says. He recommends that you discuss how pornography objectifies women and doesn’t represent normal, healthy sexual relationships; and to talk with your kids about sexting—sexually explicit text messages and pictures, and sextortion—a form of sexual exploitation and extortion using nude or sexual pictures of a person to coerce them to perform sexual acts.
Secondly, “You cannot assume that your kids aren’t viewing porn or never will; you have to actively look for it,” John cautions. And since many kids are tech-savvy, parents need to know and understand the technology that’s available to hide online activity and stay a step ahead of their kids. “Don’t be naïve and don’t assume,” John says relative to porn use and your kids’ knowledge of technology. Educate yourself about what tools are available to cover people’s online tracks. For example, there are jump drives that collect the cache from a user’s internet browsing history. Once the user is done, he removes the jump drive and the evidence is gone. Many devices like this can be purchased on the internet. You may not be tech-savvy, but you need to become so in order to know what you’re up against and what’s available to your children.
With open communication and education, you will be in a much stronger position to safeguard your children from developing a pornography addiction. Take action now to ensure you and your children have both.
Caron C. Andrews is a contributing writer for Educate and Empower Kids who has been with us from our beginnings. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English, with a concentration in creative writing, from the University of New Mexico. In addition to her articles on healthy relationships, healthy sexuality, and combatting pornography addiction, she had copyedited medical books written for the lay reader, fantasy novels, and historical dramas. She is currently working on starting a blog and writing a novel. She is the mother of a teenage son and daughter and lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Like Us on Facebook!