Pornography Can Take Down Your Teen

Pornography is wreaking havoc on the minds and hearts of teenagers today. It’s definitely not a feel-good parenting topic, but it must be addressed and discussed with your teen. It’s possible you made it through the teen years without viewing pornography. That is probably not the case with your teen. In fact, if your child is a teenager, he’s likely already viewed pornography. The Internet and smartphones have revolutionized delivery of and access to pornography, bringing it up close and personal into the life of every young person in America, even if viewed by accident. Today, the number one demographic for new users of Internet pornography is boys aged eleven to seventeen. And girls in this demographic are right behind them. It is said that the average age someone first sees porn today is before the age of twelve. One recent study has found that among 13 to 17-year-olds, 18 percent seek out porn online weekly, and 21 percent come across porn weekly, even when they aren’t seeking it. [1]

One problem with porn is that the human brain takes a picture of everything we view, which means that countless teens have pornographic images embedded in their minds. Teens who have viewed porn repeatedly may struggle with viewing the opposite sex as sex objects and worse. Sex can become nothing more than a sex act, without the physical and emotional intimacy ordained by God since creation itself. And today, even mainstream secular media is reporting on the long-term negative affects porn is having on its users by decreasing men’s virility and libido. [2]

Pornography is extremely addicting for many people. Neurological research has revealed the effect of Internet pornography on the human brain as being just as potent, if not more so, than addictive drugs like cocaine or heroin. [3] While no one disputes the dangers of addiction to hard drugs like these, sadly little is said about the addictive nature of pornography.

Once teenagers view pornography, the practice can quickly escalate in their lives. If you teach your kids to embrace the Purity Code and the four biblical standards behind the code, it doesn’t leave room for porn. Honoring God with your body, renewing your mind for the good, turning your eyes from worthless things, and guarding your heart simply can’t be done while regularly viewing pornography. Even so, parents need to be proactive to help their teenagers learn about the dangers of pornography and its stages of addiction:

Stages of Porn Addiction

1. Viewing Pornography. Almost all kids will view pornography and many will feel ashamed or think it is dirty but at the same time find it intriguing and mysterious. The images often draw them back to view more porn and this moves them toward addiction.

2. Addiction. Take the brain’s power to store images and replay them and add to it the curiosity and sexual awakening occurring in an adolescent, and you can understand how easy it is for young people to become addicted to porn and want to return again and again to images that stimulate them.

3. Escalation. As a teen becomes addicted to porn, the brain craves stimulation as much as we see happening in drug, alcohol and gambling addictions, creating a strong desire for the teen to view it more frequently. One young man said, “I’m hungry for porn. In fact, I would rather view pornography than eat.”

4. Desensitization. Along with addiction and escalation, the mind now becomes desensitized to what at first might have even bothered the teen. What was gross three months ago or even three weeks ago is now appealing. As with any type of addiction, the mind and the body crave more and look for a stronger high, which in the case of porn can be experiences that are more and more aberrant, vile, violent, and frankly, gross.

5. Acting Out. In the advanced stages of porn addiction, teens act out the experiences in their mind, engage in fantasy communications with like-minded peers (texting, messaging apps, online forums, etc.), and eventually want to act out with another person what they have seen.

Sexual addiction is a growing concern among young people, and pornography is the main culprit. This is why it is so important to have ongoing conversations with our teenagers about sexual purity and integrity—with the goal that they will be comfortable talking about what they might have seen and seek help. Accountability is one of the key ways to overcome porn addiction. Whether it is with porn or another sensitive subject, it is usually difficult for a parent to be their child’s accountability partner. Encourage your teens to have accountability relationships with both peers and trusted adults. Because teen porn addiction has become so prevalent in our culture, resources have been created to help. There are great organizations available to help provide protection through accountability tools, and to walk alongside addicts through the steps of recovery.*

*We recommend Covenant Eyes (, XXX Church (, and (


[1] The Porn Phenomenon, Barna Group, 2016. Fact sheet accessed online on May 17, 2016 at

[2] Porn and the Threat to Virility, Time Magazine, April 11, 2016.

[3] The New Narcotic, by Morgan Bennett, Witherspoon Institute, October 19, 2013. Accessed online on May 17, 2016 at

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Jim Burns

Jim Burns is the president of HomeWord. He speaks to thousands of people around the world each year. He has close to 2 million resources in print in 20 languages. He primarily writes and speaks on the values of HomeWord, which are: Strong Marriages, Confident Parents, Empowered Kids, and Healthy Leaders. Some of his most popular books are: Confident Parenting, The Purity Code, Creating an Intimate Marriage, Closer, and Doing Life with Your Adult Children. Jim and his wife, Cathy, live in Southern California and have three grown daughters, Christy, Rebecca, and Heidi; three sons-in-law, Steve and Matt, and Andy; and three grandchildren, James, Charlotte and Huxley.

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