4 minute read

Pocket Porn: Nearly a third of teens carry portable X-rated theaters

Last Updated: July 29, 2019

Luke Gilkerson
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

Jeff first saw porn when he was seven years old when he came upon a Playboy magazine. By fifth grade, the Internet became a main source of pornography for his young mind. As technology advanced, so did his obsession. But it was his iPod, and later his iPhone, that gave him such easy access.

The days of the X-rated movie theater may be nearly over, but unfortunately, many teens and young adults today are carrying around an adult theater in their pocket. Last year, US Internet users crossed a threshold. According to what is possibly the largest porn website in the world, now more than half (52%) of US porn use is coming from smartphones—yes, the majority of those who access porn in the United States are doing so from a mobile device.

Sadly, many teens are joining the ranks of mobile porn viewers. Today, 31% of 14-17-year-olds own a smartphone, and with no restrictions, smartphones can access graphic hardcore pornography with ease.

The Downward Spiral of Technology

Jeff describes his childhood introduction to the Internet as an “‘instant,’ vast, and deep hole.” Once online, he would look at anything and everything his fifth-grade mind could find. He soon discovered AOL Instant Messenger and the ability to sex chat with strangers. Peer-to-peer networks gave him access to vast amounts of porn, but with the invention of Flash and broadband Internet, his access to videos became even easier in middle school and high school.

Finally, his sophomore year of college, he got an iPod for his birthday. Jeff could lay in bed and watch porn with his headphones on while his roommate sat at the other end of the room unaware.

Realizing the depth of his addiction, he would attempt some sobriety, but these were short-lived seasons of success.

The summer after graduation, Jeff got an iPhone 4 with 3G access, and the pit got deeper and deeper.

Generation XXX

Talking to today’s college students, we know digital access to porn in the teenage years is not a new thing. More than 90% today’s college men and more than 60% of college women in the US saw porn before the age to 18. For most men (51%) their initial exposure to porn came before their teenage years (a third of women say the same).

Moreover, young men and women are not just consuming porn—they are becoming porn. Conservative estimates say about 20% of 16-year-olds and 30% of 17-year-olds have received a sext (sexually explicit text message) from someone else. Teens use Snapchat to send nude images of themselves—with the false hope that the image cannot be saved. Boyfriends and girlfriends use Skype to masturbate in front of their webcams for each other. Teens can use Tumblr or Facebook to post leaked sexting photos of their peers. Ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends are even posting sexual images of their ex online—a phenomenon called “revenge porn.” Sexual images like this are often a catalyst for “slut shaming.”

The Need for Mobile Accountability

Now more than ever, parents and schools need to broaden their approach to Internet safety.

  1. Both parents and schools need to be proactively teaching teens about the negative impact of pornography. Programs like Fight the New Drug are coming to schools nationwide, teaching teens about negative health effects of porn compared to healthy human sexuality.
  2. Both parents and schools need to recognize the problem with the anonymity of mobile pornography. Schools need to think hard about the devices they distribute to their students. Do school-issued iPads have access to porn both on and off school grounds? Does that iPod touch parents purchased for Christmas have protective restrictions?
  3. Parents need to take a leading role in encouraging an environment of loving accountability in the home, showing sympathy for present struggles (if there are any) while setting appropriate limits on what should and should not be accessed on mobile devices. Accountability software should be installed on all mobile devices with a clear expectation that there is no room for privacy when it comes to harmful content online.

Like Father, Like Son

Jeff isn’t the only one in his family impacted by pornography. His father, George, was also a porn addict—all while pastoring a church.

Jeff remembers his father catching him with porn when he was young and being punished for it. He also remembers the day when he was 18 years old—the day George confessed to him, his mom, and his siblings that he had an addiction to porn and had been wrapped in an affair. A few days later George resigned from his Senior Pastor position. “First he was my dad who punished me for looking at porn,” Jeff says. “Then he was the hypocrite who failed his family.”

After Jeff graduated college he moved in with his parents. After many valiant efforts to quit looking at pornography, and after a stint of victory, one day he found himself stressed out about an upcoming job interview. The stress triggered in his mind a desire to return to his old release valve of porn. He binged all afternoon and evening, and by that night he was sitting under the heavy weight of his shame.

Then a still small voice reminded him: “You know, your dad can help you with this, and he’s just at the end of the hall.” At this point in his life, Jeff still hated his father for the grief he put his family through, but he finally gave in and knocked on his father’s door.

I expected the man from my childhood to tell me how horrible I was and how guilty I should feel. Instead I was saw a man I had never met before. He told me how sorry he was. He offered to pray for me and encouraged me towards Jesus with the Gospel. I cried so hard that night, but I found so much peace. That began a healing work in the relationship between me and my father. It has taken almost four years, but he is now my sponsor, and we talk every day—if anything, just to check in. I am very thankful for him.

  • Comments on: Pocket Porn: Nearly a third of teens carry portable X-rated theaters
    1. Marilyn on

      Thank you Luke! As always, your article is right on target. I plan to forward this to our middle and high school health teachers.

      Reply
    2. Ttw on

      Thank you for these wonderful articles that bring truth and a message of hope. My husband and I recently discovered someone we love dearly was struggling secretly and were both devastated. It has been a long road for us but we are beginning to see God’s hand on their life as well as leading us to know how to support our loved one. I read articles every week and am so encouraged that there are other who want to take a stand and protect the people of God. To offer them a place of refuge and let them know they can be restored and don’t have to let porn destroy them.

      Reply
    3. Emma Joy on

      I am truly thankful for articles like this. It is crucial that we make known the importance of accountability to today’s youth and people in general. Thank you for the Covenant Eyes blog, resources, & accountability report and filtering service. It is a great help!

      Reply
    4. Stan on

      Great articles for teachers, parents, and addicts

      Reply
    5. Jeremy on

      Are covenant eyes apps for iPods and iPhones in the works? Ones like the above mentioned android app that locks down other apps?

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        As of right now, no. Apple doesn’t give that kind of control to 3rd party apps like us. We are working on more comprehensive solutions for monitoring the iPhone, but not for blocking apps. Apple’s built-in restrictions do a decent job of that alright if you use them correctly.

    6. Joshua Brooks on

      Thanks for the article. The statistics show how prevalent pornography is, especially on smartphones. We all know what.

      I recently started using the new Lock apps feature on my Samsung Galaxy 3. It’s one more step in the battle against porn. I’m thankful that Covenant Eyes is helping men, women, parents, teenagers, families, addicts, pastors, lay leaders, Sunday School teachers and what not to pursue purity. Keep up the good work!

      Peace. May the Lord use his people to pursue holiness and righteousness in this generation! Please help us Lord.

      For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18 NIV

      Reply
    7. S C on

      I do not think a day goes by when I do not see the devastation porn has created in my life. I am talented at programming and therein came my weakness, I was now spending long hours in front of my laptop for the wrong reasons. Mobile tech made porn harder to resist. I remember the days when you did not have to get home to watch porn, you could watch it on the bus home. So I am grateful to Covenant Eyes. In a world where I even struggle to find a suitable accountability partner, their uninstall code page blocking keeps me from trouble. Happy with the new app blocking feature. Closed my Norton Family account as soon as the new feature came on the market. Many prayers to the brains behind Covenant Eyes.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Thanks for the comment, S C. I’m so glad Covenant Eyes has been a dependable service for you!

    8. Steveo on

      About the Iphone, Other than restricting to no wifi and not being able to uninstall the Safari browser, you can substitute Safari with a browser called Mobicip, which disables Safari. The is an annual fee but, if Mobicip in installed on the Iphone or Itouch, it can be set for certain filtering that Safari cannot be. Mobicip can also be set to email you a report on activity. Just search the web for Mobicip. I have used it for several years now with great satisfaction. For your router at home, another service that is free is OpenDNS. I subscribe for 10 dollars a year to it to support it. OpenDNS filters your entire network according to how you set it and it does it via their DNS servers, which you point your router to. Millions of users on business networks and schools, libraries use OpenDNS. Also filters phishing attempts. Good instructions for setting it up on your router can be found on the website. Your internet provider remains the same and is unaffected by pointing your DNS1 and DNS2 router settings to OpenDNS servers. God bless.

      Reply
      • Steveo on

        OpenDNS adds an additional layer of protection to your Network, without affecting it adversely.

      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Yes. OpenDNS is available for free and you can point a router’s DNS Server settings at it, and it will filter all traffic through it. It’s key to remember (for anyone else reading) this isn’t a setting on the phone. This is a setting you change on your router.

      • Luke Gilkerson on

        I’m not sure Mobicip disables Safari. Doesn’t it just tell you to disable Safari?

    9. Seriously Concerned on

      You people talk about the dangers of porn and the inevitability of your child watching porn more than kids are actually watching porn. Maybe you guys are the one with the problem?

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Not following. What exactly do you mean? When we talk about the inevitability of watching porn, we’re talking about people in general, not just children.

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