Youth Culture Window

More Problems from Porn

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XXX Material Messes Up Real Sex for Young People

For years, we’ve known that porn use leads to problems for men of all ages. But new research shows just how “personal” those problems can be for millions of young guys.

Oh, and girls aren’t off the hook, either.

Porn for Everybody!
Let me state up front that it’s somewhat unclear just how many young people choose to view pornography on a regular basis. Tons of research has been done on the subject of porn, but the data varies due to differences in age, gender, country, accidental exposure vs. intentional consumption, and so on. That said, if I had to estimate the willful use of porn by American teenagers in scientific terms, I’d say it’s “a lot.”

Well, that’s how Fight the New Drug, an online organization committed to exposing the harmful effects of porn, quantifies it. If you don’t have time to read the article, let me highlight just two simple stats for you:

  • Incestuous terms such as “stepmom,” “mom,” and “stepsister” are regularly top searches.
  • On just ONE site (Pornhub) in just ONE year, 4.6 billion hours of porn was consumed. That’s 5,246 centuries of porn…squeezed into 365 days.

Along with that massive rise in porn use comes a rise in the problems associated with it. One of the more recent dilemmas noticed among male porn viewers is erectile dysfunction. Studies dating back to 2017 found links between porn use and sexual dysfunction among men, but more recent data seems to support an even stronger correlation. In an article on the subject by The Guardian, Mary Sharpe, CEO of the Reward Foundation, a non-profit that teaches about sexuality on the internet, claims, “Until 2002, the incidence of men under 40 with ED was around 2-3%. Since 2008, when free-streaming, high-definition porn became so readily available, it has steadily risen.” Some now think that the prevalence of ED among young men might be as high as 35% – a rate that Sharpe calls “crazy.” In the same article, therapist Clare Faulkner says, “I now have ED clients in their early 20s.” While this may be great news for Viagra, it’s awful news for boys.

But porn isn’t just a “guy thing” anymore.

The stories of girls who routinely watch porn seem to be increasing with every study undertaken. In a survey conducted in the UK, 34% of young women (between the ages of 18 and 25) said “the bulk of their sex education came from adult material.” Furthermore, 47% of them admitted viewing explicit material in the previous month (compared to 77% of their male counterparts). Like guys, girls who use porn run the risk of having their sex lives impacted by what they’ve seen on a screen. Some young ladies complain of a lack of arousal during (actual) sex and a growing number of them fear they may be addicted to porn use.

In short, pornography has millions and millions of young men and women in its clutches…and the grip is only tightening. What can be done to help rescue the coming generation from a life poisoned by porn?

Fighting Back
Actually, a lot can be done. First, any parent can take about 10 minutes to choose one of the many free porn filters that can be loaded onto laptops, tablets, and smartphones to aid in accountability. On the professional side of things, specialized counseling now exists to help those who specifically struggle with porn addiction. But one of the best resources parents have in the fight against porn abuse is regular conversations with our kids. If you need some help in that department, here are a few tips to get you going.

Start early…much earlier than you think.
Years ago I heard Dr. Dobson (from Focus on the Family) say parents should address pornography with their sons at the age of 10. As a brand new parent, I thought that was a bit premature. Then I remembered how old I was when my buddy handed me a glossy picture he’d ripped from his dad’s Playboy magazine: 11! And I’m not alone. Study after study confirms that first time exposure to pornography is fairly consistent around the 11-year-old mark. I’m not saying we give them the porn talk while they’re learning to walk…but 15 is way too late. Start talking about the prevalence and problems of porn sooner rather than later.

Be honest.
When you talk about pornography, it’s best to be honest…about everything. Yes, talk with your kids about how popular porn is. Yes, talk about how dangerous it can be (in the short term and long term). And yes, talk about former struggles, the impact it had on you, and how you overcame the habit. If we want our kids to learn from our mistakes, we need to be willing to admit them. Jonathan McKee does an excellent job addressing guys directly about this in his brand new book, The Guy’s Guide to Four Battles Every Young Man Must Face. (If you have daughters, Jonathan addresses both guys and girls in his book Sex Matters.)

Be consistent.
Don’t just have one conversation with your kid about porn and think the crisis is averted. You need to make this an ongoing topic of discussion for the foreseeable future. Yeah, that first talk can be a bit intimidating, but the more of them you have, the less awkward they become. After just a few conversations, you’ll probably find yourself being more candid and them being more inquiring.

Porn is winning…and its wreaking havoc on minds, hearts, and bodies. Neither has to be the case. Jump into the fight on your kid’s side!

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David R. Smith

David R. Smith

David R. Smith is the author of several books including Christianity... It's Like This and speaks to parents and leaders across the U.S. David is a 15-year youth ministry veteran, now a senior pastor, who specializes in sharing the gospel, and equipping others do the same. David provides free resources to anyone who works with teenagers on his website, DavidRSmith.org David resides with his wife and son in Tampa, Florida.

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