While you should take steps to limit your children’s exposure to pornography, you also need to prepare them for it. Sadly, their exposure is inevitable. But I want to encourage you that teaching your children simple truths can springboard you into deeper and more difficult conversations about God’s design for sex and his desired protection of them.
The reality cannot be denied—the majority of teens are viewing pornography—whether on purpose or by accident.1 We know porn is everywhere, but I think many parents fail to realize what characterizes today’s pornography. Internet porn is made up of moving images with sounds depicting every type of sexual activity and orientation. It is dark, it is free, and it is evil.
What is worse than our children’s exposure to pornography is why they are choosing to view it. Of the children who admitted to intentionally searching for pornography, nearly two-thirds of them revealed they had done so for one or more of these reasons:
- To look for new ideas to try sexually
- To learn about sex in general
- To find out how to get better at sex
- To discover what potential partners expect from them sexually
Girls, in particular, mentioned using pornography to learn how to meet boys’ expectations.2
The Internet is providing our children with sex education, and it is the worst type. It displays a corrupted and distorted depiction of what God designed to be a wonderful expression of intimacy and oneness. Pornography lures children in, feeds their curiosity, then leaves them with images that stick. These “hooks” pull them back to look again, and what they see shapes their desires.
We can easily see the potential for great danger in this trend, yet most parents I speak with struggle to talk to their children about pornography, let alone the dangers of it. The Bible tells us that we are to shepherd our children, so we must push past what feels uncomfortable or brings up our own issues with sex. Our children are counting on it.
Scripture beckons our children to listen to our wisdom.
Hear, my son, your father’s instruction,
and forsake not your mother’s teaching,
for they are a graceful garland for your head
and pendants for your neck.
My son, if sinners entice you,
do not consent (Prov 1:8–10).
Our guidance is not just a source of protection. It also beautifies our children as they become better image bearers.
To help you do what feels impossible, I will outline four negative effects of pornography and provide you with a conversation point for each. I hope that in doing so, you can see how approachable this topic can be, given the biblical truths you are already discussing at home.
- Threat: Pornography is confusing and overwhelming for children. Not only can they not process its explicit nature, but they also cannot make sense of the complex themes and messages. They will also see sex portrayed as violent and that any combination of people, sexes, and ages can be involved. This will cause them great stress, and the exposure can be traumatic for some.