Pornography use is on the rise. Many of my clients are reporting earlier and earlier first-time use. The ease of access has increase as well as the severity of first-time exposure. Many of my clients report that they stumbled upon pornography online as they were researching something for school when they were in elementary. They state that they weren’t looking for it, but saw it and became curious. They went on to view it without others knowing. For years, they report, they used it being ‘curious’. It eventually, however, turned into something that they became to rely on. As the stress and uncomfortableness of life increased, dopamine (among other natural chemicals in the body) numbed them and helped them feel ‘good’ when they weren’t. This is partly how they ended up using more and more over time and how it becomes an addiction. The behavioral patterns (for example – making sure you are alone, opening a web browser, typing in search terms, viewing and then masturbating) became a routine that they went to deal with life. Many of my clients ended up not talking to someone in the beginning because they didn’t think about it, or they didn’t want to get in trouble, or they didn’t think it was a problem, etc. They went years without anyone asking about their emotions or specifically if they had had any experience with pornography. Parents are in a perfect position to intervene early. They can watch for warning signs, or they can just assume that exposure to pornography is going to happen and talk with their children about it. When you do this, make sure you talk with your children specifically instead of in general terms. Instead of saying, ‘is everything ok?’ ask them, ‘have you ever seen pornography online?’. Deciding when is the right time to talk with them about it and what specific questions to ask can be tricky. However, asking them in some form and at some point – early on – is crucial. Instead of shaming them if they say that they have (for example – ‘you shouldn’t have done that!’), talk with them about being curious, about how it might be interesting to wonder about their body and about how they work and how they are meant to feel good. You can also talk about your standards of how and when to appropriately explore your body and others. Sometimes a good counselor can help navigate these discussions. Over the years, I have worked with numerous individuals who tell me they wish that their parents had talked with them earlier on about pornography. They tell me that they might have avoided the years of pain and struggle that followed early first-time exposure and use.
We have counselors in our Orem, Spanish Fork and American Fork offices that are trained to help you and your loved ones heal from the devastating impact of pornography.