Puberty comes with changes in a young person’s body and signals a new reality. What was once easily overlooked and gratefully avoided becomes the almost constant focus of the teenage imagination.
The excitement of growing up in the teenage years involves learning what to do with this unfamiliar but ever so persistent motive that rises up even in one’s dreams.
Teenagers growing up today face new challenges that their fathers and mothers rarely knew. What happens to the psycho-sexual development of teenagers in an increasingly hypersexual society in which graphic sexual images are as accessible as one’s smart phone?
Concern exists among researches, clinicians, and parents that young people are being inundated with sexual information before they are developmentally capable of integrating it into a healthy sexual identity. Exposure to pornography impacts how children grow, develop, and learn about themselves. It informs gender identity and how the understand and experience relationships with others.
Studies have found that prolonged exposure to pornography changes what teenagers believe about being sexual. It leads to an exaggerated perception of both how much and the type of sexual activity that is going on behind closed doors in their society around them.
The pornographic image defines the norm, rather than genuine human behavior being aloud to define what is normal and healthy sexual expression. It tends to promote sexual promiscuity as the natural expression of healthy sexuality.
Exposure to pornography also undermines the natural development of trusting relationships which in turn has an impact on the development of healthy intimacy in the adult years. It engenders cynicism when it comes to the value of healthy intimacy as it decouples sexual pleasure from the context of a supportive emotional relationship.
Problems of healthy psyco-sexual development appear also appear in behavior issues outside the bedroom. One study reports “delinquent youth not only are more likely to have been exposed to pornography but also report more exposure, exposure at an earlier age (often under 10), and more extreme pornography use than their peers.” (Bjørnebekk 2003).
Greater exposure is also found in higher rates of dissatisfied and depressed youth. Some studies site use of pornography with impulsivity and the retardation of the development of social skills.
Studies consistently link teenage use of pornography that depicts violence with increased degrees of sexually aggressive behavior. Teens also have lower degrees of social integration, increases in behavior problems, and decreased emotional bonding with caregivers.
Like many other powerful human experiences, sex has the potential of being addictive. Teenagers commonly use pornography to release stress, overcome frustration, and avoid relationship challenges. When pornography is mixed with stimulates like Methamphetaminnes, Cocaine, or even a prescription drug like Adderal, it becomes an even more dangerous trap.
How do you know your teen is using internet porn? Here is what you can look for:
- Secrecy. Does your teenager hide his/her behavior from you and protest when you ask that all internet activity take place in public, supervised space?
- Browser history. Review your browser history. It should reflect common usage. If the history does not track with your teen’s use, be aware.
- Smart Phone apps. Know the apps that are on your teen’ smart phone. Look for instant messaging apps that allow your teen to text without creating a paper trail on your phone bill.
A parent talking with their teen about human sexuality has never been easy. In a world of easy accessibility to pornography, it has never been more important.
Image by Andrius Repsys