Age of Un-Innocence

Confronting difficult topics with kids

Pornography:The New Sex Ed For Kids

Is porn the elephant in the room of your home?

Are you aware that young children today often get introduced to sex through pornography?

Parents like to believe that their kids learn about sex through their school’s sex education programs.  However, studies confirm that kids today are learning more about sex from pornography than from their sex ed classes.  Middle-school children, let alone teens, are inundated with porn through the media and Internet. 

Have you ever asked your children if they have viewed (view) pornography?  An easier question:  have you considered the impact of pornography on their life?

Studies reveal that nine out of ten children from ages 8 to 16 learn about sex from porn. In fact, this exposure often occurs before the wheels have begun to turn from parental or other educational efforts of sex education  In fact, prior to dating, kids report having seen hundreds of adult strangers having sex either on TV or through explicit pornography. The impact upon children varies and stirs mixed responses: from alluring feelings and confusing thoughts to shame and even addiction—certainly not experiences that you want your children to have as they build their foundation for sexuality and relationships.

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Accessing pornography is often underground. When sexuality and pornography are not addressed openly kids interpret that there is inherently something secretive and wrong with sex.  By not discussing sexuality honestly and positively with parents, clarifying their values, gaining direction, and understanding normal sexual needs, kids are not only vulnerable to the lures of pornographic sexualization and sexploitation but interpret that sex is merely physical, removed from intimacy and love. 

Young men who watch porn are likely to be depressed, unable to enjoy intimacy, and suffer from desensitization of feelings, dissatisfaction, loneliness, isolation, and compulsion. Girls take away the message that their most worthy attribute is their sexual hotness, which chips away at their self-esteem and the full range of their attributes.

More than ever parental involvement is essential today regarding the healthy sexual growth of their kids.  Pornography ultimately desensitizes emotional and spiritual feelings of sexuality and devalues the person. It’s unlikely that you want your child to understand sexuality in this way.  Parents have every reason to be very much concerned and involved.

Pornography is the elephant in the room in most homes.  Everyone knows that it’s within arms reach and parents need to break the ice.  Discuss sexuality and speak with your kids today about the impact of pornography. You do not want to judge and criticize but get in these issues whe your kids need you most. 

John T. Chirban, Ph.D., Th.D. is a clinical instructor in psychology at Harvard Medical School and author of How to Talk With Your Kids About Sex (Thomas Nelson, 2012) that explains what kids need from parents at each stage of their sexual development and how parents can effectively communicate. For more information, go to dr.chirban.com and sexual problems.com.

John Chirban, Ph.D, Th.D., is a clinical instructor in psychology at Harvard Medical School.

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