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Help! I’m 13 and addicted to porn!

Last Updated: September 19, 2022

Keith Rose
Keith Rose

Keith Rose holds a Master of Divinity degree and BA in Sacred Music. Keith worked with the Covenant Eyes Member Care Team for 15 years. He has also served as a Bible teacher, pastoral assistant, and music director at his local church. He's now the editor of the Covenant Eyes blog and the author of Allied: Fighting Porn With Accountability, Faith, and Friends. He lives in Hendersonville, North Carolina with his wife Ruby and daughter Winslow.

Note: If you’re a parent reading this post, we hope this information deepens your appreciation for how pervasive of a problem pornography is for many young people. We don’t market our accountability service to children. But as you will see below, some young people are searching for answers and land in our blog. Therefore, we felt it was important to write this post and let them know they aren’t alone. Maybe your son or daughter would benefit from reading this post, too?

Are you 13-18 and can’t stop looking at porn? Maybe you feel like you’re addicted, and you’re wondering if that’s even possible! It can be scary, but don’t worry. You’re not alone. These are some comments we’ve received from teenagers just like you:

“I am 13 years old and have been struggling with porn since I was 8, but the addiction has never been as bad as it has been lately.”

“I have been addicted to porn and masturbation since I was around 12. It started when I poked around some websites, but now it’s full blown into a daily thing.”

“My parents would never suspect that a person like me would ever struggle with porn, they’ve asked me and my brothers several times and we all deny it but deep down in my heart I want to tell them because I know that as soon as I do a weight will be lifted off my shoulders. “

There are many, MANY others just like this.

If you ask the internet, you’ll read all kinds of stuff.

“Porn addiction isn’t real.”

“You have hormones—porn and masturbation are natural and healthy!”

“Lighten up. Everybody looks at porn.”

But, if you’re a Christian, you’ve probably heard that watching porn is wrong. Maybe you feel ashamed or guilty, and you want to quit but feel like you can’t.

We’re here to help. Here are answers to some important questions you might be asking, and some helpful tips for you to find freedom from porn.

Does it matter if I watch porn?

Because watching porn feels good and a lot of people say it’s harmless, you may wonder whether it’s worth trying to quit. Yes, it is!

Although it’s popular to say that porn is a normal and healthy way to explore your sexuality, both the Bible and scientific evidence tell the exact opposite. A growing number of teens report feeling trapped and out of control with their porn use. Here are just a few of the ways that porn can hurt you.

Porn affects your mental health.

Lots of research shows the impact of watching porn on your mental health. You can read here about the link between porn and depression.  

Porn can also be a cause of anxiety, as we’ve explored here.

Porn damages your relationships.

Most people who watch pornography think it’s a private activity that doesn’t affect anyone else. Not true! We have found that porn negatively impacts all kinds of relationships, from friends and family to romantic partners.

Check out this article for more details on the way pornography can hurt your relationships.

Porn harms your sexual health.

If you’re a teenager, you probably think about sex a lot. That’s actually normal! God created sex, and the desire for sex is a good thing. When you get older, it motivates you to get married and have children.

But porn isn’t real sex. There’s nothing natural about watching pixels on a screen for sexual enjoyment. In fact, when people’s experience of sex comes mostly from porn, they often experience sexual problems in marriage.

Instead of teaching about God’s amazing plan for sex, porn teaches a warped idea of what healthy sexuality is.

Porn is a sin.

Maybe you already know that watching porn is a bad thing to do. Beyond this, the Bible tells us it’s sin against God, against others, and even against ourselves. We’ve written more about this here: Is Watching Porn a Sin?

Porn brings feelings of shame.

One last reason to stop watching porn is shame. Shame is that icky feeling you have around other people—that feeling that there’s something wrong with you, that you’re not good enough, or that people won’t like you.

A lot of people experience shame related to watching porn. That shame makes you want to hide from other people and keep your porn use a secret that no one can find out. But telling someone else about it is actually the best way to break free—more about that in a minute!

Can a teenager get addicted to porn?

Yes. You’re not crazy. It’s very possible to get hooked on porn as a teenager. In fact, data shows that LOTS of teens are probably addicted to pornography, whether they know it or not.

Am I a pervert if I’m addicted to porn?

Maybe you already know porn is bad and feel terrible about it. You want to stop looking at bad things on the internet. The guilt and the shame weigh you down like a weight hanging around your neck. I want to encourage you—struggling with porn doesn’t make you weird, a creep, or a pervert. The temptation to look at porn is very common. We live in a world where we get bombarded with sexual content, and many strong Christians have fallen into it.

That’s not to say that watching porn is OK. But it does mean you’re not alone. It does mean it’s OK to talk about your struggle. It’s OK to ask people for help. You need to ask people for help because that’s really the only way that you can overcome porn.

As a teenager, why is it so tough to quit porn?

If you want to be free from porn, you might wonder why you keep going back to it. No, you’re not crazy. There are actually a lot of good, scientific reasons that you can’t stop watching porn. For one thing, porn is very easy to find nowadays, and it can be challenging to avoid it.

Your teenage brain is going through massive changes.

We said it already, but it’s worth repeating: teenagers think about sex a lot. That’s because your body is growing up and that means your sexual desires are growing too. You do have lots of hormones that make you want sex, and porn is designed to meet that desire.

But just remember, it’s not the real thing! Those desires were designed to motivate you to take on the responsibilities of a family, not so you would look at porn.

Porn tricks your brain into wanting more porn.

When you feel the desire for porn, it’s often like being hungry for food; it feels like an appetite that you need to satisfy. But God designed these appetites to be satisfied in very specific ways which are very different from porn (sex in marriage).  

Porn is a quick fix solution to the problem of wanting sex, but it’s not a long-term solution. Sexual pleasure from porn won’t satisfy your deep longings for a relationship. And the more you turn to porn, the more you feel you need porn. It’s like food that just makes you hungrier.

You can read more in our article, Why Is Porn So Addictive?

How can teens overcome porn?

OK, porn is bad. Got it. But if you’d tried, you know how tough it can be to overcome temptation. How do you stop looking at bad stuff on your phone or computer when it’s right there? Fortunately, you can overcome porn. Lots of people do it, and there’s lots of help available when you’re ready to take the next steps.

Find someone to talk to.

Talking about porn feels weird and uncomfortable; however, you need to talk to someone about it. Porn gets its power from secrecy and isolation. When you try to carry the burden of porn alone, it weighs you down and keeps you trapped in shame.

When you open up about the struggle, you can start to find the help and strength you need to overcome it. Find a close friend that you know will share your concerns about porn. An older person, like a pastor, youth leader, or counselor can also help. As scary as it seems, talking to your parents is usually the most important step for any teenager serious about quitting porn.

We wrote this article, How to Tell Your Parents You’re Struggling With Porn.

Figure out your weak points.

We all have strengths and weaknesses. The same is true when it comes to porn relapses. If you think about the situations, feelings, and places where you tend to act out with porn, you start to learn about your “triggers.” For a lot of us, it’s feeling sad or lonely. Once you know your triggers, you’ve got a lot better chance of avoiding porn!

Triggers can be tricky to figure out if you’ve never thought about them before. We created The Ultimate Guide to Identifying (and Redirecting) Your Porn Triggers. I hope this helps!

Get some better hobbies.

Matt Fradd first saw porn in a relative’s house when he was just eight years old and quickly got addicted to it. He overcame porn, and now he speaks to thousands of teens and adults about how they can find freedom.

Matt says that trying not to think about porn is like trying not to think about a purple elephant. Don’t think about its big purple trunk! Don’t think about its floppy purple ears! Stop! Once it’s in your mind, you can’t just not think about it.

A much better strategy is to think about something different. Don’t just stop the bad stuff. Replace porn with new hobbies! Fill your mind with good things that will keep you distracted from porn. This can be tough to do, so we wrote a book that you can download for free called Hobbies and Habits.

Ask someone to keep you accountable.

Getting free of porn goes a step beyond just talking about the struggle with someone. You need to ask someone to hold you accountable. What does this mean? This means you invite someone to check in on you and help you follow through with your goals.

A powerful way to do this is using the Covenant Eyes app. You install this on your devices, and it sends an accountability report to your ally, who helps you keep on the path away from porn.

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