Teens and Porn

By Karen Ruskin, PsyD, LMFT

teens and pornOne of the mistakes parents make when they learn their teenage son has been viewing pornography sites on his computer is to punish him by taking away his computer. This is a mistake, as it may send the message that sexual feelings and exploration are wrong and bad. Rather, as a parent your intent needs to be to instill a healthy view of sex and belief that sexual desire and exploration of sexual thoughts and feelings are healthy.

I have found that often mothers are concerned that their son either is or will become a sexual deviant and that his behavior is inappropriate. Fathers more often think their son’s behavior makes sense; they understand the desire to look at porn, but they may still be concerned about it, even though it seems normal. These reactions may sound like a stereotype, but I have found this as the typical reaction that mothers and fathers have when discovering their teenage son is viewing porn. I am here to tell you that it is very normal and healthy for a teenage boy to desire to look at naked bodies. Males are visual, and teenage males experience physiological sensations that are normal and healthy. In addition, they are curious.

So knowing that teenage boys like to look at naked bodies, what should a parent do? There are three parts of how a parent should address this issue. First, discuss with your teenage son that you saw that a pornographic site was saved in the history on the computer so you know that he accessed it. Assure him that is normal to want to look at these sites and perhaps experience sexually arousing feelings. Dialoguing with your son in a nonjudgmental manner helps you to connect with him and make the point that sexual feelings are normal.

Second, explain to your son that along with the normalcy of his desires, as a parent you recognize how spending time on the computer with sexually explicit and stimulating material can impact how the viewer may be influenced to view a sexual relationship in a way that may not be reality because of the fantasy images that are put on the site. This discussion should include the exploration of the idea that an emotionally and physically safe, and healthy, sexual relationship may not be what is displayed on the site (or is it?).

Further discuss that you understand there are different types of sites and wonder what he understands of the types of sites. This open dialogue will help you to open up your son’s mind to thinking about that there are different ways of experiencing sex. Also, this discussion can allow you to explore and uncover your son’s view of sex and what he islooking at so you can help him with his thoughts and feelings.

Finally, discuss that you would like to team up with him to figure out together how not to let his albeit normal curiosity and interest negatively affect his personal growth and sexual health journey. Specifically discuss that if he is going to look at porn again then what is a healthy plan to assure:

  • That he has a healthy view of sexuality and sexual relationships, thereby discussing from a philosophical point of view how to develop healthy relationships with others
  • That his allowable time to watch pornography does not impact his involvement in extracurricular activities and responsibilities, thereby discussing what the house “rules” should be (e.g., time limitations, pornographic site restrictions, to view or not to view)
  • That porn viewing does not become an escape method as his only release when having a stressful day, thereby discussing specific healthy outlets (e.g., music, sports, art), as well as sharing his thoughts with words, and confronting his conflicts
  • That he stays safe when there are predators on different types of sites.

One of the most important things to keep in mind as a parent of a teenage boy is that boys often are very analytical and welcome philosophical discussion when you give them the opportunity. If you use the discovery that he is looking at porn as a opportunity to have a dialogue with him about his thoughts and feelings, and co-create with him a healthy plan as to if and when he should look at porn and its impact, then it is much more likely that he will develop a healthy view of sex. Specifically you can help enhance your son’s skills of analytical thinking, processing, and self-introspecting rather than
just reacting to sexually explicit material.

This article courtesy of:
Pediatrics for Parents

As a parent, you do not want to ignore this discovery since there are some teens for whom porn viewing can become a problem. If your son is substituting porn for real relationships, spending less time accomplishing tasks and responsibilities, putting himself in a potentially harmful situation with a stranger or using it as a coping method for life’s challenges as an escapism technique instead of talking about his feelings and/or confronting his problems head on, then you need to address it.

Teen couple photo available from Shutterstock

 

APA Reference
Karen Ruskin, PsyD, LMFT. (2012). Teens and Porn. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 25, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/teens-and-porn/00010640
Scientifically Reviewed
    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.