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Breaking the porn addiction in teens

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Take a look at the infographic below. It summarises the results of a study we conducted with McCrindle Research into the use of pornography amongst young adults aged 15-29.

As you can see, exposure to and use of pornography is prolific in young people’s everyday lives.

In my work as a high school speaker, I have spoken to many young people who have struggled with the plethora of online platforms where they can access nudity, sexual exchanges, and ‘thirst traps’, which are provocative photos or videos on social media that people use to attract attention.

With porn so readily available, it is difficult for teens to resist. I’ve heard it said that if you want to know what’s in your heart, you need to look at where your mind goes when it wanders. Unfortunately, many young people today lament that their mind seems to perpetually be on erotic autopilot due to the overuse of their smart devices.

The good news is that there is something that could be done to fix it. Also, while rabid hormones, drives, appetites, and curiosities are a natural part of adolescence, lustful thoughts do not have to lead to lustful acts.

The ability we have as human beings to observe our thoughts means we are not our thoughts. Yes, we are flawed and imperfect and make mistakes, but that does not mean we cannot and should not desire to attain a higher level of consciousness.

‘Become addicted to constant and never-ending self-improvement.’

Anthony J. D’Angelo

Overcoming porn addiction

Studies show that the opposite of addiction is connection. As it turns out, at the core of our compulsive behaviours, we are simply just trying to connect with ourselves, other people, and higher consciousness. Porn addiction stems from this at a basic level.

As mentors, teachers, and parents, we all have a responsibility to guide young people and keep them from confusing their need for physical affection and acceptance with sexual arousal and attention.

While we don’t have to make them feel ashamed, I see nothing improper in urging young people to abandon their savage and baser instincts to become civilized, careful, thoughtful, and self-sacrificing. These are the traits that have always moved humanity further after all.

‘By constant self-discipline and self-control, you can develop greatness of character.’ Grenville Kleiser

Here are five methods to help your children and students win the fight against porn addiction:

1. Get them to spend more time with friends

Remember the driving force for looking at porn is the need for connection. Spending more time making real connections addresses that.

Encourage your child to spend time with their friends and at activities which cause them to engage with others. From chess club to Surf Lifesaving or local youth groups, there should be something in your local area they are interested in.

2. Get them to set up restrictions

It is easy to limit access to adult content on our phones. On iOS, simply go to Settings > Screen Time > Content and Privacy Restrictions > Content Restrictions > Web Content and tick ‘Limit Adult Content’.

If you have younger children, you should definitely have this set up. If your kids have their own phone, encourage them to take responsibility and do so themselves.

Pass this information on to every parent you know.

3. Get them to go outside and play

The hormones that drive sexual impulse need an outlet. Playing or exercising should help make them more manageable.

Some kids love team sports. Others prefer a solo bike ride or run. Teens may enjoy exercising with a parent and having a goal to work towards.

4. Ask them to get a mentor

If you notice your child using porn and they don’t want to talk to you about it, encourage them to find an honourable mentor who won’t judge them and who they feel they can call whenever their porn use gets out of control. It is important that they have someone they can trust to help them take better control of the situation.

5. Get them to aim to win the day

Building a new habit takes time, so let your teen know that they cannot expect to change overnight. Instead, they should take things one step at a time, trying to do slightly better with each passing day.

Jonah Mix once said:

“I’m not interested in a world where men really want to watch porn but resist because they’ve been shamed; I’m interested in a world where men are raised from birth with such an unshakable understanding of women as living human beings that they are incapable of being aroused by their exploitation.”

When it comes to porn use, the important thing is to avoid judgement. Having an open dialogue is essential so teens feel they can reach out for help and advice if they need to.

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