First off, before we get into this, I want to point out that this post is going to tangentially talk about something that I know is a very controversial topic for many of you, pornography. I’m not going to argue for or against it. That’s not the point of this post at all, but there is something that we need to address when it comes to teens and porn. So, if talking about it will be a big problem for you, it’s cool. Come back some other time.
That being said. I came across a recent New York Times article entitled What Teenagers Are Learning From Online Porn, (Fair warning, the article contains some very graphic descriptions that may be disturbing to some.)
The parts of the article though that I had been pointed to were these quotes
Preliminary analysis of data from a 2016 Indiana University survey of more than 600 pairs of children and their parents reveals a parental naïveté gap: Half as many parents thought their 14- and 18-year-olds had seen porn as had in fact watched it. And depending on the sex act, parents underestimated what their kids saw by as much as 10 times.
So your teens have probably seen way more than you think they have. And…
It’s not surprising, then, that some adolescents use porn as a how-to guide. In a study that Rothman carried out in 2016 of 72 high schoolers ages 16 and 17, teenagers reported that porn was their primary source for information about sex — more than friends, siblings, schools or parents.
“There’s nowhere else to learn about sex,” the suburban boy told me. “And porn stars know what they are doing.”
This is seriously wrong. No matter how you might feel about porn, I think we can all agree that it is not supposed to be a reflection of reality. It’s all fake. It’s unrealistic on purpose. Yet, teenagers in the US are turning there to learn about how to be sexually in the real world because no one else will talk to them about it.
Here’s a clue, parents. If you don’t talk to your kids about sex, no matter how uncomfortable it may be, they will get curious about it and seek answers elsewhere. Some will look at online porn and come to the conclusion that it is “normal.” Others will become targets for people who would be more than happy to “help” them learn about sex.
You see, even as preteens, kids will start to get curious about sex. Feel whatever you want about their innocent childhoods, but this is the truth. And there will always be plenty of places where they can learn something about sex. They also will likely lack any basis for putting what they “learn” in to perspective. So, they think porn = reality, or they think they need to keep quiet about anything sexual other people tell them because their parents never talk about that. Is that the relationship you want with your kids?
Look, I have a personal stake in this. I was groomed with the help of porn and a curiosity about sex. Growing up, my parents weren’t going to tell me about it. My school would make some half-assed attempt to, too late since it was after the abuse had already started, the Catholic Church wasn’t going to tell me. My friends were about as dumb about it as I was. But, it turns out an older person in my family was more than happy to take advantage of that situation and not just tell me but show me.
That process started when I was 9. 40 years ago.
Suffice it to say, it took a long, long time for me to understand what normal and healthy is in terms of sex.
So, like I said, if talking to your kids is too hard, or you don’t want to ruin their innocence when they’re young, you go right ahead. There are plenty of places they can learn about sex if you won’t do it. You might not like what they learn, though.