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Parenting in a Porn-Saturated World

It’s addictive, has devastating consequences, and nearly all of our kids will be exposed to it. What can we do?
Parenting in a Porn-Saturated World
Image: XIFOTOS / ISTOCK

My husband and I have decided to talk to our son about porn before he starts kindergarten next year.

We may not use the word porn at first. But as we continue to teach him to respect his own body and the bodies of others, we need him to understand that there are images and videos out there that don’t honor the dignity of others and that looking at these pictures can harm him in serious ways.

If this seems a bit premature, consider the statistics on kids and porn. While some studies indicate the average age children first view pornography is between 11 and 13, a growing number of experts believe this number is changing.

“I’ve seen children struggling with porn as young as nine,” says Sharon Cooper, a forensic and developmental pediatrician and faculty member at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s School of Medicine.

Dawn Hawkins, executive director for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, believes the average age is closer to eight, but she’s seen even younger children struggle, including a growing number of very young girls. “There are quite a lot of six year olds I’ve heard about and have been introduced to who are dealing with an addiction to porn,” she says.

Numbers like these are leaving families scrambling to catch up with the harsh reality that the efforts of the porn industry paired with a generation of kids who are growing up never having known life apart from a smartphone is resulting in an increasing ...

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