Written by Annemarie Lange
According to Google Analytics, pornography searches increase by 4,700% when kids are using the internet in the hours after school ends.
Like it or not, teens are using their devices to access pornography on a regular basis in today’s technology driven society. Where previous generations were cautious of a stolen Playboy magazine, current parents are looking for guidance on how to shield their teens from the ever available, internet pornography.
The average child is now accessing pornography at the age of 11 – and that is much younger than the legal age for viewing such material. Unfortunately, the access to adult content is easy and is available in a couple clicks. Even though most mature and pornographic sites have a pop-up warning away minors, there is nothing to stop them from clicking the ‘over 18’ button and viewing inappropriate material.
ONLY 3% OF TEENAGE BOYS AND 17% OF GIRLS
HAVE NEVER SEEN ONLINE PORNOGRAPHY
If this sounds like a shockingly low number, consider the amount of hours teenagers spend on screens for entertainment, 9 hours a day according to a report from Common Sense Media. Given the overwhelming reality of this statistic, what should parents know about online pornography?
RISK OF ADDICTION
The rate of addiction to pornography has grown significantly since the introduction of the internet and the vast amounts of available material. The population at the highest risk for addiction? Teenage boys ages 12-17.
A study conducted by JAMA Psychiatry looked at the connection between compulsive viewing of online pornography and brain changes. Their results indicated alarming similarities between individuals who view online pornography for hours each week and individuals addicted to drugs or alcohol.
This same study suggests these individuals will develop stronger tolerance to the material and may also have difficulty controlling impulses.
Some other signs or symptoms that your teen may have a problem with internet pornography include:
- Trouble at school, due to poor performance or misuse of school computers
- Interruption in relationships with peer group
- Depressed or anxious mood
- Withdrawing from family activities and spending more time alone in his room
PROTECTING OUR TEENS
As uncomfortable as it can be to talk with your teenagers about pornography, we must!
It’s normal for teens, who are exploring their own sexuality, to be interested in pornographic material. What they are likely unaware of, though, are the risks associated with compulsive use as well as how it changes their perception of healthy relationships. Arm them with the reality of the risks involved with pornography and empower them to monitor their own behavior online (while also using tools to filter their searches).
It’s important for us to educate and protect ourselves and our teenagers to online dangers, including pornography. The difficulty also lies in safeguarding kids’ access to the internet, which houses thousands of new websites each day – some good and some mature. Programs, such as Net Nanny ® , can help with monitoring, setting boundaries and parental controls.
Annemarie Lange is a licensed professional counselor in the Philadelphia area. This article was originally published at NetNanny.com.