Kids Viewing Porn—How Pervasive is it?

By Danny Huerta
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As much as we'd like think of our children as innocent, we parents need to become aware of the widespread use of pornography among tweens and teens.

As much as we’d like think of our children as innocent, we parents need to become aware of the widespread use of pornography among tweens and teens. No parent wants his or her child to view pornography. But the reasons go far beyond the feeling that it’s wrong. Pornography is powerful. And it’s far more pervasive than you would suspect. There’s no doubt, the porn industry wants your child. And statistics clearly show they’re succeeding. In a study spanning 1995 through 2015, researchers discovered extensive use of pornography by adolescents in the U.S. and other countries. Often initial exposure is unintentional when kids stumble upon pornographic imagery. That data tracks with what I see in my private practice. Many kids addicted to pornography were initially exposed to it through a friend, lingerie and swimwear ads, sexting, chat rooms, fantasy novels or an accidental online click. Then the draw becomes powerful and they secretly and intentionally seek out more images and/or experiences. To them, it’s worth the shame and guilt they initially experience. Tweens and teens are using porn at an alarming rate. The recent statistics should cause concern for every parent:
  • 12- to 17-year-olds is the largest group of internet porn users (source) .
  • 90 % of boys and 70% of girls younger than 18 years admit to having seen pornography at least once.
  • 32% of teens admit to intentionally seeking out pornographic content online.
  • Pornography sites have more traffic that Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined (source).
  • Teen girls are more likely to seek out pornography than young women that are 25 years old or older (source).
  • 64% of people aged 13 -24 view pornography at least weekly.
  • 49% of young people first viewed pornography before age 13.
These numbers delight the multi-billion dollar pornography industry that generates more revenue than rock and country music, Broadway productions, theater, ballet, jazz and classical music combined. It also exceeds the total gross income of all three major networks— ABC, CBS and NBC.

Porn’s proceeds used to attract young users

Pornographers use a good deal of their profits to expand their reach by developing more effective methods of attracting new users, including kids. The industry uses popular children’s characters in the URLs of hard-core porn sites. Once kids land on one of these sites, they may find it difficult to escape because the site disables options such as back, exit, or close navigation buttons. And it’s not just an issue in the U.S. In a study involving German adolescents, researchers found that 98% of boys and 81% of girls said they had seen a pornographic film or clip. In a different study involving Taiwanese adolescents, researchers report that 71% of adolescents in the study said they had been exposed to pornography. As parents, we need to see it as an issue and pursue teaching sexual intelligence by having intentional conversations with our kids throughout their time growing up. It’s also important to research and use filtering and monitoring software such as NetNanny or Forcefield to help you parent in the digital age.

© 2018 by Focus on the Family

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About the Author

Danny Huerta Media Profile
Danny Huerta

As vice president of the Parenting and Youth department, Danny oversees Focus’ initiatives that equip parents to disciple and mentor the next generation, so that they can thrive in Christ.

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