Well done! I commend you for your willingness to read yet another article about why porn is bad. My desire is to provide information around the further damage when an introduction to pornography is made during the brain’s development.
If you want to see me get aggravated, pick at parts of a meal before everyone sits down to eat. My husband and children can attest to my irrational reaction to such an event. If they walk through the kitchen as supper is being prepared and grab a piece of lettuce, an olive, or a slice of meat, I respond as if they grabbed a platter of food and sent it crashing to the floor. I have often wondered why I can’t feel a more sane emotion to the reality of their innocent hunger. My therapist friend Courtney says that when we reach adulthood, we don’t have reactions, we have reenactments. I sat with this negative feeling around food and family trying to remember when I’ve felt it before. I pictured my three sisters sitting at the supper table. We had an unwritten rule, in fact I don’t even think it was ever stated! But no one touched anything until we all had a chance to scope out what filled the serving dishes. There was often just enough for each member of the family, the good stuff often particularly limited. In order to be assured that the most desirable morsels were divided evenly we waited for all to be in attendance. To pre-game dinner by grabbing a roll or pick at the favorite side dish was considered more than rude. It was offensive.
Without realizing it, these childhood truths affect my reasoning, my emotions, and how I perceive the actions of those who love me most. It truly is amazing how the brain continues to grow from the inside out during the childhood and adolescent stages of development. Billions of cells are formed and discarded. Myelination occurs building sheaths of fibers around axons creating speedy synapses between the right and left hemispheres. The brain creates road maps of information releasing dopamine and serotonin around life experiences that your mind remembers. Addiction to pornography is a heartbreaking struggle regardless of age. But for those whose addiction coincides with the brain’s development, it can be catastrophic.
While a desire to look at porn may begin with curiosity or lustful thoughts, continued addiction actually has little to do with sex. Porn use for an addict is the need to feel fulfilled, combat insecurities, escape from fear and emotional upheaval, a desire to be appreciated or feel attractive. Porn can even be a false solution to comfort feelings of exhaustion. The wide array of driving forces is overwhelming. For a user who begins addictive behavior during brain development, self soothing becomes tied to porn use. It’s as immediate as a young child’s use of thumb sucking. Porn use for someone whose addiction begins during brain development can be pervasive and unnoticed. Not unlike my reaction to my husband and kids picking at dinner pre-presentation.
In light of all this really great knowledge, how does one parent? Brass tacks: your kids and my kids will likely be introduced to inappropriate images, video and verbiage through their own curiosity or their peers encouragement. This will likely happen before they graduate from high school. Fightthenewdrug.org provides a lot of valuable albeit terrifying information. Their research tells us that 93% of boys and 62% of girls view porn prior to the age of 18.
Our ability to prevent this introduction is unlikely. However, we can absolutely provide hurdles for potential addiction. Your kids will hear terminology and understand sexual concepts way before you’re ready for them to. Let them hear those words and come to that understanding under your care. Leave space for awkward questions and create an avenue for continued uncomfortable conversation. Choose an internet option that can be locked down. Google’s wifi has parental controls where times of use can be set and word searches can be blocked. If your teenager has a device with data access, make a bold and undoubtedly unpopular family rule. Data accessible devices live in and are charged in common areas. Let them live in kitchens, living rooms, front porches rather than bedrooms or bathrooms.
So much in parenting is out of our control. Where and when technology is used is absolutely something we can and should control. See Part One for a refresher on how and why to manage technology use for kids. Boundaries are a hard necessity in parenting. However, parents and kids are in relationship and relationships require boundaries. So buck up friends!