Pornography: The Gap between Exposure and Addiction

The ramification of the ever-increasing speed of technology is that it causes this sort-of cataclysmic crash between children and the internet. They are so quick to pick up and explore the latest and greatest technological advancements; to learn and to exploit the endless resource of online content with pornography grabbing a majority of that selection. Whether by accidental exposure or willfully seeking out, our children are vulnerable to its cunning wiles and targeted algorithms. No longer is it a question of “if”, it is the inevitability of “when” they will see it.

Attention is given to the effort of helping young children recognize what they may have stumbled into or have seen. Parents fear the “A” word when it comes to pornography. Until now, addiction seems to be the assumption if someone is viewing pornography. The addiction recovery industry is a $40 billion dollar business. The truth is, there is a gap in what to do between first exposure and addiction therapy, which has been overlooked. Most children, adolescents, and young adults are not addicted to pornography. Pornography use is a spectrum.

flow chart window of opportunity with accidental porn exposure


Pornography pique’s curiosity. Experimentation often follows, which for some may develop into a habit. Left unchecked and allowed to foment over time, those habits may evolve into compulsive behavior and possibly an addiction. The progression is subtle and is impossible to identify who will become addicted. We should not minimize the potentially addictive nature of pornography. However, we should realize the incredible opportunity to preempt a progression toward an addiction. Addiction therapy is useful for those who are professionally diagnosed. Pornography is a trap from which most can escape.

Now there is a generation which will not know anything but the internet. They’ll have no experience with the pre-internet world. Herein is a generational gap of understanding of what this prized generation is being exposed to. The pornography that became normalized and accepted in the 60’s and 70’s is a far cry from the dehumanizing and dangerous pornography of today.

Pornography is not sex education, it is a trap! We cannot ignore this reality. Discussing sexuality in a healthy and age-appropriate context is our responsibility. Creating a shame-free, non-judgmental, and loving environment is essential. Accountability in this environment is facilitative and supportive.

Pornography is a counterfeit to love. Pornography is fantasy, fake, degrading, dehumanizing, violent, dissociating, disconnected, puts arousal ahead of attraction and speaks nothing of its consequences. Love is real, intimate, kind, affectionate, respectful, connected, and charitable, fosters interpersonal relationships, and puts attraction ahead of arousal.

The internet has forced the issue. We as parents must do all we can to be educated, fearless, and committed to teaching our children our values. If they become distracted or trapped by pornography don’t accept that they are too far gone, addicted, or broken. Take courage and know that there are resources that focus on this wonderful generation. We can take back our loved ones from pornography. You can do it!

Dr. Timothy Hollingshead is the founder and author of Free in 13. He is committed to helping parents and others take back lives from the trap of pornography. He is is a retired surgeon, has taught anatomy, physiology, and biology at several universities, is a popular author and speaker and is a husband, father, and grandfather.

For more great family-related information, check out the other blogs on Cyber Parent.

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