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The Not-So-Hidden Effects of Porn
The Habit May Be Secret…But Not Its Consequences
An article from David R. Smith at

Dynamic ImagePorn is a $97 billion-per-year enterprise. That equates to millions upon millions of users worldwide, many of them being impressionable adolescents. Most of them just want a habit that involves a few clicks and a quick clean up.

But real life setbacks keep getting in the way.

The Secret Sabotage
TIME Magazine’s cover in mid-April headlined porn and our own Jonathan McKee blogged about it. Essentially, the piece focused on the “threat to virility” that porn often brings about in its male users. TIME wasn’t the first major periodical to talk about the benefits of breaking free from porn; GQ did it back in 2013 when they gave readers “10 Reasons Why You Should Quit Watching Porn.” But there are other unwanted effects of porn use, and they deserve their own brief, if painful, discussion.

According to this TIME Magazine article, young girls are among the first to feel porn’s damaging effects. For example, one 11th grade girl confessed, “I watch porn because I’m a virgin and I want to figure out how sex works.” If you cringed while reading that it’s because you know that “watching porn to learn about sex” is about as helpful as “watching Ashlee Simpson to learn about singing.”

However, the damage goes far beyond the psyche. In one study of 304 randomly selected porn scenes, almost 90% of them were found to contain “physical aggression toward women, who nearly always responded neutrally or with pleasure.” Could this be the reason acts of sexual violence against young women are so high? Sadly, researchers have even noted that females who watch porn are more hesitant to intervene in a situation where another female is being threatened or assaulted.

Finally, it seems as though porn might even be taking a physiological toll on young girls. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has reported a significant increase in cosmetic surgery amongst teen girls…and I’m not referring to breast implants. Between 2014 and 2015, the number of girls under the age of 18 who underwent labiaplasties – a procedure that alters the vulva—almost doubled.

Granted, the number of operations was estimated to be somewhere around 400+, but the drastic rate at which they increased drew the attention of many concerned professionals. Yes, some of these procedures had to do with discomfort associated with a few girls’ involvement in sports, but most of them were for aesthetic reasons: “Today’s teen girls have grown up with easy access to photos and videos of genitals porn, which are often already surgically modified or chosen for their slight, monochrome appearance.”

I can hear it now. “Hey Mom, I want a booty like Kim Kardashian, boobs like Kate Upton…and a vagina like Jenna Jameson.”

Guarding Your Girls
Parents and youth workers need to be proactive when it comes to protecting their kids – both boys and girls – from the damaging effects of pornography. Make no mistake; loving adults must take the initiative on this point. Fortunately, guarding your girls (and guys) from porn isn’t rocket science…but it will require constancy. Here are a couple of ideas.

  1. Be their source of information about sexuality. They have questions…and you have the RIGHT answers. Don’t be silent on sex during your kids’ adolescence. You can safely assume that your teenagers are being exposed to these issues on a regular basis. (Our 4th grade son has even brought home a few new vocab words made possible by the beauty of the public school system.) If you believe they have questions, don’t make them go to Google – or PorhHub – to find an answer; you can become their “go to” person about sex. There is no shortage of talking points related to this issue. You could speak with them about temptations they face, habits their friends have, the ongoing political debate about sexual identity, and so much more. Just make sure your voice is as constant in their life as culture’s.

  2. Don’t separate spirituality from sexuality. Seize every opportunity you can to remind your teenagers that sex was God’s idea. While the importance of relationship and intimacy in sexuality is important to both genders, girls tend to respond even more favorably to this aspect of the discussion. If you want a little help, this article from Relevant Magazine does a pretty good job discussing the commitment and covenant that God built into the act of sex. The Source for Youth Ministry also provides several free resources on important points like Breaking the Addiction to Porn and Porn’s Dirty Little Secret. Jonathan McKee also wrote a fantastic book for teenagers called SEX MATTERS, probably one of the most honest and helpful resources on the subject! There are other resources, like Pastor Craig Gross’, which offers great resources for pornography addiction, many of which are free. As you teach on this subject, set your focus on purity.

Do everything you can to engage your teenagers about porn…before they’re engaged by porn. You can help them avoid the visible – and the invisible – effects of a dangerous habit.

David R. Smith David R. Smith is a 15-year youth ministry veteran who helps youth workers and parents through his writing, training, and speaking. David specializes in sharing the gospel, and equipping others do the same. He co-authored his first book this year, Ministry By Teenagers. David provides free resources to anyone who works with teenagers on his website, David resides with his wife and son in Tampa, Florida.

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