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8 Out of 10 Teens in the UK Look at Porn

Last Updated: July 15, 2021

Luke Gilkerson

Luke Gilkerson has a BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies and an MA in Religion. He is the author of Coming Clean: Overcoming Lust Through Biblical Accountability and The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality. Luke and his wife Trisha blog at IntoxicatedOnLife.com

According to a recent survey, more than 80% of kids ages 14 to 16 in the UK say they regularly access porn online, and almost a third said they first saw Internet pornography by age 10.

This survey is a part of Psychologies magazine’s Put Porn In Its Place campaign.

What Porn Does to Kids

What has so many psychologists anxious about these numbers? After all, do we really have any hard evidence that porn is damaging to people? Isn’t this just about a clash of prudish ethics with our modern liberal culture?

John Carr of the Children’s Charities’ Coalition for Internet Safety doesn’t think so. He says we must act upon reasonable inferences drawn from reasonable evidence. He says adults are lining up outside counseling offices with relationship problems related to pornography consumption.

“If adults are having problems coping with this new mass availability of these types of images, then it’s not unreasonable to deduce that children, who are exposed to exactly the same images, in exactly the same way, must be getting into all kinds of difficulties.”

What sort of difficulties? Dr. Julie Albright says porn trains men to be less interested in actual relationships and more critical of women’s bodies. “Porn encourages the user constantly to seek the new experience, the next girl,” she says, “It’s not about committed relationships.”

We might say the real problem with pornography is not that it shows us too much, but that it shows us too little. Porn shows sexuality stripped of intimacy, and more importantly, of marital commitment. Sociologist Michael Flood says, “Porn shows sex in unrealistic ways and fails to address intimacy, love, connection or romance.”

Moreover, the pornography that is so commonplace today is not merely the pinup girls of a generation ago. According to an American survey, by age 18, one in three boys have seen bestiality, and nearly two out of five boys have seen rape or sexual violence online.

According to the Journal of Adolescent Health, prolonged exposure to porn leads to a lack of attraction to family and child-raising, cynicism about love or the need for affection between sexual partners, and belief that promiscuity is natural, that abstinence is unhealthy, and that marriage is sexually confining.

What Parents Can Do

According to the same UK survey 75% of teens say their parents have never discussed Internet porn with them. Most parents surveyed did not think merely having a conversation would be enough to help their teen stay away from porn amid all the peer pressure and the high accessibility of porn online. John Brown of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children says parents simply don’t know how to talk to their kids about porn. Peter Bradley of Kidscape agrees: he says parents need guidelines to help them talk about sex in general, not just pornography.

How can parents foster the kind of warm, communicative relationship with their kids that fosters a healthy understanding of sexuality and an openness to talk about the tempting sexual images that are all around us? Here are a few places to start:

1. Don’t confine conversations about sex to the proverbial “talk” at the onset of puberty. Preparing your child for his or her sexual development is a process that should start early with age-appropriate explanations. If you’ve already missed the early childhood years, there’s nothing wrong with starting now.

2. Be proactive. It is easy to say, “Any time you are curious about anything, you can come and ask me.” It is important to also initiate discussions before puberty. Establish yourself as the “sexpert” in your home; otherwise, your kids will default to their peers or the Internet to get their information.

3. Lead by example. Your children need to see that mom and dad are in love. As kids get older they should know that “good sex” is not found in pixels on the screen or in loveless one-night stands, but in the context of marital faithfulness and passion.

4. Remember pornography is only the tip of the iceberg. We send mixed messages to our kids when we allow them to watch or listen to other sexually titillating media but make pornography off limits. We need to broaden our focus. You don’t want sensual media to be the foundation of your child’s sexual education.

5. Teach boys to honor women. Pornography is both exploitative to the women in the industry and dishonoring to women in general. It trains young minds to rate a woman by the size, shape, and harmony of her body parts. It reinforces a sort of trophyism in boys, telling them that beautiful women are collectibles that show the world what a real man is. Teach young boys to avoid promoting any form of media (pornography included) that dishonors women or treats them as objects.

6. Use technology to your advantage. The best sort of technology is not just a filter that blocks access to objectionable websites. As helpful as these can be, this does not teach self-control or keep the lines of communication open to you, the parent. Use technology that will help you keep an open dialogue with your kids. Use an accountability service that reports where your kids are going online. Covenant Eyes offers both Filtering and Accountability, and the Internet reports are custom-made for good conversations.

  • Comments on: 8 Out of 10 Teens in the UK Look at Porn
    1. Johny on

      I’d like to say, I agree there needs to be a change in the way people view sexuality and relationships, and in all things, not just sex-ed, parents need to be more pro-active in teaching their children. However, porn isn’t the source of this demeaning view or the disappreciation of sex and relationships. Such views of trophyism and more have been around long before that, and porn may be more a symptom than cause (though it certainly is helping to spread it). Women are also guilty of these views, and being a part of the source. It is a sexism which still exist today, and feminism is only another type of this sexism which encourages such views or leads to other equally damaging behaviours. People don’t have respect, for themselves and others, and for many who don’t partake in this perverse promiscuity their reason is more fear than else. Fear is a poor reason, and only lasts until one believes they might avoid a consequence. What needs to be learned by all is equality, to view not through gender but through people-hood, which will be difficult and may have some issues with reproduction (as much currently is almost accidental).

      Reply

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