Focus on the Family

Teens Exposed to Pornography

Equip your teen to deal with the temptation and peer pressure related to pornography.

If we’re really honest with ourselves, the topic of pornography is awkward. As parents, we grow even more uneasy when we think about our conversations about pornography with our teenagers. Do you really want to know if your teen watches pornography? It grows more difficult when we realize how much our teens are truly exposed to pornography.

Many parents would rather not address this issue for fear of what they might find. But equipping your teen to deal with the raw evil of pornography begins by admitting that the problem exists. First, you need to look in your community and possibly in your own home to begin the conversation with your teen.

What to do When Your Teen Is Exposed to Pornography

Begin the Discussion

Begin talking with your teen by asking, “What do you know about pornography?” While not every teen struggles with the temptation to view pornography, nearly every teen experiences exposure to pornography. In our digital world, it’s nearly impossible to spend time online without coming across sexually explicit content. Whether your teen is simply curious about porn or already addicted to it, he needs you to be courageous enough to enter the battle with him.

Pornography is often described as a private choice, which results in few immediate external consequences. It’s easy for teens exposed to pornography to think there’s no harm. However, just because no one gets pregnant or contracts a sexually transmitted infection, pornography is anything but harmless.

As parents, we need to communicate this message to our kids.

Children exposed to pornographic images often link their first experience of sexual arousal to pornography. The damage cannot be overstated. Early exposure to pornography begins an unhealthy foundation on which teens learn about their sexuality. This context dehumanizes men, women, and the act of sex itself.

It’s undeniable. Pornography is highly addictive. And pornography subscribes to the law of diminishing returns. This means that what created arousal last month no longer excites. In fact, it only prompts the desire for increasingly more erotic material.

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Care about the Boundaries

To start, it’s important to realize that the battle for your teen’s purity will not be won with safeguards alone. For some teens exposed to pornography, restrictions provide a challenge rather than an appropriate boundary. Part of the way pornography negatively impacts the brain is by viewing sexually explicit content as a reward rather than sin. In some cases, filters and accountability software can serve as a thrilling obstacle course with an incentive at the finish line.

Even if your teen’s computer has protective software, they can find other ways to access pornography. In addition to safeguards and boundaries, the most effective tool in helping your teen battle this powerful temptation is your relationship with him. Your relationship needs to include discussions on God’s design and intent for sexuality. If your teen understands the beauty of God’s plan, then he can recognize the harmful counterfeits.

Stay Connected

Teens exposed to pornography might not realize it, but it can be a private, embarrassing struggle. And the Enemy uses pornography to sever relationships. Creating isolation, pornography addiction enforces messages of worthlessness and shame. Teens involved in porn often believe God could never love or use them. They feel dirty and compromised but find they’re incapable of stopping.

Your teen needs to know that they aren’t the only one struggling.

As difficult as it may be, confronting him or her with love and honesty helps to tumble the walls of shame, isolation and helplessness. Your conversations about pornography should include a healthy, ongoing dialogue about sexuality. Remind your teen that his or her sexuality is not bad. It’s normal for him or her to have an interest in sex. Reinforce the idea that temptation is not a sin. Instead, sin occurs when we act upon our temptation.

However, explain that a battle rages for his heart and his mind. Walking with your teen may include appropriately sharing some of your own struggles and failures. Affirm your unconditional love for your teen and share about God’s grace and forgiveness.

Final Thoughts on Teens Exposed to Pornography

Realize that the battle with pornography has the potential to unleash some powerful truths in the life of your teen. Jesus said that He came not to validate the healthy, but to heal the sick. God’s Spirit envelops the weak and the poor. The church has a tendency to brush aside sin and focus on how talented, beautiful and capable children are. Your teen needs to understand that he is incapable of conquering sin without the powerful presence of God, and pornography might be the struggle that brings that truth home.

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