With the launch of our new podcast, One Day You’ll Thank Me, my teen co-host Anna and I had a fantastic interview with our very first guest! It was filled with candid conversation, knowledge, and practical advice, on a topic that many parents struggle with knowing how to address, pornography.
We were so excited welcoming Jeremy Mast, LMFT and Certified Sex Addiction Therapist as we dove into what pornography actually is, what do we need to worry about as parents, and most importantly how to talk to your teen, pre-teen about it.
So What is Pornography?
Pornography can be hard to define even though we all know what it means, typically what it is referring to is explicit sexual materials. Pornography can be video and websites, but it also encompasses audio, going to a particular spot in a movie where there is a sexual scene, basically anything used for sexual stimulation and gratification.
We all know that “sexting” is so common today and extremely problematic. What you may not have known, is that “sexting” is also considered pornographic and is a huge problem in our schools and can lead to serious consequences. Many kids think it is something fun and exciting to send pics on Snapchat and over text, etc., however they are not fully aware that there can be legal ramifications.
What is the difference between a kid that looks at porn and a porn addiction?
Looking at sexual material and being curious about porn and checking it out is normal behavior, it doesn’t mean that the kid is struggling with porn addiction.
When you are looking at porn addiction you are really looking at the Big 3 criteria:
Loss of control; something that is difficult to control and manage
Having a hard time resisting urges to watch it, a preoccupation with it, having cravings and urges that have been triggered by cues in one’s environment
Continuing to use it despite negative consequences; loss of emotional and sexual intimacy, great deal of shame and loss of self esteem, anxiety around it
Again, normal sexual curiosity is natural and not problematic, however parents need to make sure that porn is not where their kids are going for sexual education and seeing things that are not realistic or reflect real life relationships.
How does porn addiction start?
It is actually different, based on which type of pornography you are talking about. There are two kinds:
1.Classic- generally an older person- trauma driven porn addicts- using it to deal with psychological and emotional wounds from early childhood, a chronic degree of trauma, unhealthy dynamic in family system, relational trauma, shame, feel they don’t matter.
2. Conditioned- generally a younger person, kids are exposed to porn and because it is a “super stimulus” that serves as super strong sexual stimulus and designed to be extremely pleasurable, they then are conditioned by that over time and learn to associate it with some kind of sexual pleasure or release.The reward is feeling different/better because porn has a mood altering effect.
What is the attraction to porn?
Simply put, porn can be an escape for people, a means to sooth or numb themselves when they want to feel less. Kids may begin from curiosity of what it is, but then can turn into a way of disconnecting and "shutting off" their feelings.
Ways to stay connected and protect your kids against pornography:
The best way to approach this topic is to take a proactive approach and initiate conversations with your kids early on, before they are at a stage to be embarrassed. You can start just by sharing some details, certainly not everything an adult would know, just what they are ready for. As time goes on, you can go further with the discussion based on their age and the types of questions that they have or experiences that they have encountered.
Both you and your kids need to be educated and stay connected, so that you can help them make good choices, have a healthy relationship with technology and a strong sense of self.
In summary, parents it is extremely important to have these types of conversations (without judgement or shaming) with your kids even though you both may struggle talking about it. You can use the resources in the link below, just start by asking questions.
If you have any questions or concerns, it is recommended to find an expert in this type of specific behavior. That is very important because you want to be sure you are getting the best information available.
This a great podcast to listen to and then share with your teen and/or pre-teen, Check it out at Protecting Teens from Pornography
Expert Bio: Jeremy is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in Ventura, California. He helps those struggling with drugs, alcohol, and out-of-control sexual behaviors awaken to new possibilities for their lives. He lives with his wife, son, and cat in beautiful southern California. Visit Jeremy Mast's website at https://jeremymast.com
To learn more about Dr. Egan's online mini-course called "Managing Your Family's Technology and Social Media", created to help parents eliminate power struggles, keep your family safe from internet misuse, and reconnect with your family, please click RIGHT HERE.
To learn more about Dr. Tara Egan, visit www.drtaraegan.com
To learn more about Dr. Tara Egan's private therapy practice, visit www.charlotteparentcoaching.com
To purchase Dr. Tara Egan's parenting books, please visit Amazon.
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