I wish that I hadn’t been so shocked.
For over a year I had been meeting with a group of girls, each week sharing snacks, school drama and what God had to say about real life. We ended our time together by forming a circle, looking each other eye-to-eye and praying for each other. The requests normally were predictable: a crush that was crushing, a family that was fighting or a school grade that was sinking. This week, though, one young lady bravely looked up and said, “I’m addicted to porn.”
I’m not sure what my face said that day. I hope it revealed the compassion and kindness for this sweet girl. She loved Jesus intimately; read her Bible regularly. She came from a strong, Christian family who was church attendees. My heart was sick and sorrowful for this broken young woman that I loved so much. What advice could I give her?
Often, we categorize pornography as a boy problem; a male issue and it is. But we are turning a blind eye if we fail to recognize that due to the internet, it has also become a girl problem as well. A huge problem.
These statistics, which I obtained from Covenant Eyes (the Covenant Eyes Porn Stats 2018 edition), help us to wrap our minds around the enormity of it.
In 2008, the company Hitwise cataloged 40,634 websites that distributed pornography.
According to the research by two neuroscientists, Ogi Ogasa and Sai Gaddam, in 2010, out of the one million most trafficked websites in the world, 42,337 are sex-related sites.
Webroot Cybersecurity says 28,258 users are watching pornography every second.
That is the general population. Then there are our kids.
According to a 2016 survey by The Barna Group, the younger the respondent, the more likely they were to respond positively to the statement: “I started looking at pornography before puberty.” This includes 27% of respondents aged 25-30.
In 2016, a study by the Barna Group discovered among teens age 13-17:
7% came across porn daily; 8% intentionally sought it out daily.
21% came across porn weekly; 18% sought it out weekly.
21% came across porn once or twice a month; 11% sought it out. In total, 57% of teens sought out porn at least monthly.
In a 2007 University of Alberta study, 429 students ages 13 and 14 from 17 schools across Alberta, Canada, were surveyed about how often they accessed sexually explicit media content:
90% of boys and 70% of girls reported accessing sexually explicit media on at least one occasion.
This one really broke my heart. According to the third Youth Internet Safety Survey, published in 2010, the ages when youth were unwillingly exposed to nudity online were: 10-12: 15% 13-15: 23% 16-17: 28%.
According to a 2012 study from the University of Sydney among 800 regular porn users: 43% started viewing porn between the ages of 11 and 13.
Christian Children are Not Exempt
According to a survey by the Barna Group in 2016:
41% of practicing Christian boys 13-24 use porn at least once a month.
I know that this a lot of very discouraging news, especially if you are a parent intentionally trying to raise a child who understands that each and every one of us is God’s creation; fearfully and wonderfully made.
Here is the good news!
There is help readily available to help us overcome these horrific statistics. Because porn thrives on shame and secrets, Covenant Eyes has designed an Internet Accountability service to help overcome porn by monitoring Internet activity and sending a report to a parent or trusted friend who can hold device users accountable for online choices. They can protect family members online with a filter that’s tailored to their needs and blocks the Internet completely at certain times a day. That protection has the ability to follow your family on all the computers, smartphones, and tablets you use. Covenant Eyes monitors and keeps a record of all Internet browsing and can even block the bad stuff if you want!
The question is: does this work?
According to the 2016 Barna report: 0% of filter users never seek out porn!
Do I really need to do something about this now?
If you are anything like me, the stuff that gets on my to-do list that is not urgent just doesn’t happen. At least it doesn’t happen for a really long time. (I finally disposed of two computers from the early 2000s over Christmas break this year! That is a long time!)
So, yes, do something now, while you can!
Here is your why:
When a child or adolescent is directly exposed to pornography the following effects have been documented:
1. Lasting negative or traumatic emotional responses.
2. Earlier onset of first sexual intercourse, thereby increasing the risk of STDs over the lifespan.
3. The belief that superior sexual satisfaction is attainable without having affection for one’s partner, thereby reinforcing the commoditization of sex and the objectification of humans.
4. The belief that being married or having a family are unattractive prospects.
5. Increased risk of developing sexual compulsions and addictive behavior.
6. Increased risk of exposure to incorrect information about human sexuality long before a minor is able to contextualize this information in ways an adult brain could.
7. Overestimating the prevalence of less common practices (e.g., group sex, bestiality, or sadomasochistic activity).
This is exactly what you don’t want for your family!
So, set a plan in motion now, today, to get internet protection on your devices and begin open, vulnerable conversations that are age appropriate with your children on the why behind you loving them this way.
“A warm and communicative parent-child relationship is the most important factor [in reducing porn use among children]. In addition, open parent-child channels for communicating about sexual and media experiences, sex education at home or school, and parental participation with children on the Internet are constructive influences. Finally, for boys already at risk for antisocial behavior, parents should carefully monitor and severely limit access to pornography on all-sharing networks and elsewhere.”
– Dr. Patricia M. Greenfield
As we earnestly and consistently pray for our children’s welfare and couple that with preventative measures, then we are truly doing the best we can do to give our children our best!