It’s not something that we’d like to think of or have to face. The reality is that pornography can pervade every aspect of our lives, including the lives of teenagers. Teens faced with chaotic influxes of hormones and confusion surrounding sex and sexuality may find themselves easily addicted to pornography.
How can you protect your teen from some of the worst content out there without shaming them for what they are watching?
How can you help your teen work through addictive behavior that could be taking a toll on other aspects of their life?
While a teen looking at pornography isn’t unusual and is not inherently bad, any addictive behavior can and should be concerning to a parent.
First things first, your reaction
It’s easy to react with anger and confusion when you find out that your teen has been not only watching pornography but has started to display the signs of addictive behavior. Don’t confront your teen with angry outbursts, as you risk making them feel ashamed and defensive.
If need be, consult with a therapist to address your reactions and feelings about the situation. The better prepared you feel to handle it, the better you’ll be able to help your teen as he struggles through his addiction.
It’s essential to react with a calm and rational response when helping your teen face the addiction and get the help he needs.
Signs of an addiction to pornography
How can you tell whether your teen has a pornography addiction or whether they’re simply spending too much time glued to their devices?
Signs of pornography addition in teens:
- Neglecting school work and other activities
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Being increasingly secretive when using gadgets
- Showing signs of depression
- Choosing to spend more time alone in their room versus spending time with family
If you’ve noticed that their browser history includes some questionable websites or that they have some adult-only apps installed on their devices, there are some steps that you can take.
You may feel overwhelmed and worried, but with a cool and calm approach, you’ll be able to help your teen through this difficult stage in his life.
Educate yourself, get familiar with the technology
Let’s face it, many of us may have grown up in a home without a personal computer or mobile phone. Sometimes the sophisticated technology we have access to today is a bit too much to keep up with.
The problem is that we have tech-savvy teens who can run circles around any parent trying to implement one or more parental controls. Smartphones are in our hands; tablets are on every desk and table. Technology is everywhere we turn.
Today’s teen knows the tricks to circumvent many blocks and controls placed upon their devices. With that in mind, take the time to get familiar with how their devices work. With an understanding of how their tablets or smartphones work, you’ll be in a better position to ensure your solutions for blocking their access to pornography truly do work.
It’s also important that you understand how they are potentially accessing the questionable content.
Are they using their smartphone?
Are they using their laptop?
Are they using their gaming console?
Kids are creative and inventive. They will understand the tech better than you do, but they will understand how to use it to their advantage.
Control what you can control
Reinforce that using his smartphone and his other gadgets is a privilege that he needs to learn. It’s not a right of simply living under your roof. You can set limits on when they can use the devices and consider restricting use to the living room and other family spaces where they won’t have the opportunity to look at pornographic content.
The problem is that you know how wily your kids can be. The best that you can hope for sometimes is to slow down their activities, limit the time they have to access the content, and keep the lines of communication open so that your teens will turn to you when they have questions about what it is that they are searching for.
Parental controls can also prove to be a great tool to have on your side. There are apps and other solutions that will restrict the type of content that teens can search for and control the type of apps installed onto the device.
While not always foolproof, these parental control methods can often be a good place to start when you’re trying to help minimize your teen’s access and exposure to pornography and other potentially questionable content.
In reality, your teen could use devices at a friend’s house or install their tools to keep their browser history from being tracked. This is why it’s so important to understand the technology that you’re bringing into your home and giving your teen free reign to use.
You may have already had the birds, and the bees talk with your teen. Discussing pornography is an entirely different matter. With a non-judgmental attitude and offering warnings about what could potentially result from an addiction to pornography, you should have a transparent and open conversation with your teen.
Many sexual dysfunctions have their origins in trauma and misinformation established during the teen years. Addressing concerns as soon as possible can help your teen learn more about what healthy sexuality and sexual behavior should look like.
It’s important that your teen understands that pornography, the depictions of men and women, and the scenes being played out are not real. That pornography is fictional and should not be taken as an indicator of healthy sex and healthy relationships.
It’s also important to remind your teen that the virtual world is filled with predators who may often use adult websites to gain access to them. There are countless security concerns when it comes to children and teens using the internet. Once they start to navigate to sites for adults only, it can only get riskier for them.
Getting professional help for your teen
Addictive behavior should always be addressed as soon as it is recognized. It can be easy to think that a pornography addiction should not be taken as seriously as an addiction to drugs or alcohol. All addictive behavior is concerning, regardless of the form it takes.
Getting your teen the right type of professional help is essential. What does this type of help look like?
- Individual counseling addresses the underlying mental wellness concerns that may be contributing to the addictive behavior.
- Support within the home and at school, particularly to catch up on missed schoolwork.
Some teens can benefit from a completely fresh start in a new environment that provides them with the support they need. A therapeutic boarding school can give your teen the supportive environment he needs, with the structure from which he can best benefit.