Emily Olivia, Protect Kids from Porn
Emily Olivia is an incidental children’s book author – really all she wanted to do was to protect her boys from porn!

Pornography is one of the big unspoken topics in this internet era. Absolutely! You know about it, but rarely talk about it. And rarely mention its effect on people. I recently finished watching the gripping Series 3 of Broadchurch on Netflix, and sadly, most of the crimes committed were attributed to porn-watching. So how do mothers protect kids from porn?

It’s time to call in an expert!

On my Treasuring Mothers podcast, I chat to Emily Olivia about this difficult topic, and she was pleased to write a guest blog for Treasuring Mothers. Thanks Emily!

Listen to the podcast with Emily >>>

Growing up in this Pornography-Driven Culture

Guest blogger, Emily Olivia

Porn. The elephant in the room that’s bound to bring with it a range of emotions and experiences. You might have some heart-churning memories of discovering your husband’s pornography use, or finding a beloved child entangled in it.

You might have your own personal history that brings with it guilt and shame, or maybe it’s that dreaded fear of how to raise your children in this pornography-driven world?

One thing’s for sure, porn is a loaded word.

We like to brush big emotional topics under the carpet. It’s easier. It’s cleaner. We don’t have to talk about the mess, and our guests can walk right over it without knowing it’s there.

I get it, but I want to invite you to grab a broom and lift the corner of that carpet with me, for just a couple of minutes while I tell you how to protect kids from porn.

We like to brush big emotional topics under the carpet.

About me, Emily Olivia

I’m a speaker, author and pornography researcher. Well, at least I am this year! I’m completing an Honours program in Psychology. With pornography being such a relevant topic, and with so little research in this area, I decided to take on the task. I’m also the author of a book for parents to read to their children about managing porn in their home and I speak to families, parents (and anyone who’ll listen) about porn in Church gatherings around the country. As you can see, I am passionate about helping parents to protect kids from porn.

I’ve found the overwhelming majority of parents are concerned about the high-tech, social media-driven world their children are growing up in. They know porn is so easily accessible, and they want to protect kids from porn, especially their own children, as best they can.

But they don’t know how to protect them. This is exactly why I became interested in this topic. As a mother of three boys (now aged 12, 9 and 5) I knew that I had to DO something, or at least KNOW something about how to support my boys to become men that respect women, and have healthy views on sex and relationships.

Firstly, some evidence

Sexual Dysfunction and Well-being

Research has identified an alarming rise (no pun intended) in the number of young men reporting sexual dysfunctions and reduced sexual desire1.  Young men, aged between 18-40 are now more likely to develop erectile dysfunction (Yep, that pun!) – 14-28% than older men, aged 40-80 – 13%. This study found that sexual arousal is being conditioned to the limitless novelty of Internet pornography. Terminating pornography use was found to resolve this issue.

Other research has suggests pornography use could be considered detrimental to the physical, social and mental well-being of young people2.  They highlighted low self-esteem, depression and objectification of women as some of the side effects of pornography use. This is why it is so important to protect kids from porn.

The Addiction Conundrum

Although ‘pornography addiction’ is still a hotly debated topic, and does not currently exist in the DSM-5 (the mental health diagnostic manual), there is mounting neurological evidence that problematic pornography use can be likened to an addiction model. A pornography ‘addict’ develops the same neural pathway as a gambling addict or substance addict3. While I don’t want to bore you with large words like ‘mesocortical dopamine pathway’ now, I actually love talking about it, so feel free to drop me a line if you’d like more science-specific info!

More research is needed on this topic and I’m so excited to be contributing to that research this year (click here to contribute to my research).

What do we do?

Okay, we’ve had a little taste of what the research is saying, and why we’d rather keep porn under the carpet. But that’s not very helpful if we want to uncover porn. Some parents worry if they talk to their child about pornography or sex it might spark their child’s interest in the topic. Research suggests that this is not the case. Your children might surprise you and be very open to this conversation, although I’d like to add, you know your child better than anyone.

Your children might surprise you and be very open to this conversation

Some children don’t have the emotional capacity to manage these topics. However, most children will and if they’re going to hear it from somewhere, it’s better if it comes from you first. Your children may not feel comfortable talking to you about the conversations they’re having or hearing at school, if they don’t know you’re willing to talk about these topics.

School-age kids

So, is your child of school-age? Then you can talk to them about pornography!

This can be done in an age-appropriate manner – they do not need to know what porn looks like, they don’t need to know where to find porn. They need to know that it exists and what to do with it when they find it.

A child-friendly definition: Pornography is when photos or videos show naked people, or people who are not wearing many clothes. They can be in pictures, movies or even video games, as I explain in my children’s book, Put a Lid On It.

Protect kids from pornNow, what should they do when they find porn?

Your children need to spend as little time engaging with pornography as possible. This limits the neurological impact. So, sit down as a family and come up with a plan.

Your children need to spend as little time engaging with pornography as possible

Your Plan to Protect Kids from Porn

As you plan, here are some key things to remember:

1.      They should expose the secret

This involves telling a parent or trusted adult when they see pornography. When things become secrets, they can fester and become toxic. By keeping these issues out in the open, we encourage growth, open communication and healthy family relationships.

* It’s very important that the child isn’t blamed for what they’ve already seen. They should never be scolded or made to feel guilty. They were the innocent party and should be affirmed, loved and supported through the difficult experience that they’ve had.

Of course, this goes against our natural reaction, which is panic and fear. When our child runs onto the road we have the same reaction – we want to make sure they never do it again! However, in this case, your child is probably already shocked, feeling guilty or even sick about what they saw. You want your child to know that you’re a safe place to go to when they have these big feelings. So don’t push them away. It’s part of the way we can protect kids from porn.

You want your child to know that you’re a safe place to go

2.      They need to respect themselves and others

We can respect ourselves by choosing not to look at pornography. This gives our brain and our bodies the best chance of growing and functioning well. Our kids might hear about pornography from a secondary source, probably their friends in the schoolyard, or when at a friends’ house.

So, respecting ourselves may include walking away when friends talk about or share pornography. Work with your children to come up with a plan, so they know what to do when this happens. Maybe they could call you with a secret code word to help them out of a sticky situation?

You can download my action plan for free at my website – emilyolivia.com

3.      For the Mother who feels she’s done it all wrong

Maybe as you read this, you’re thinking ‘I found out my child saw porn, and I flipped my lid’. Or, ‘I really haven’t handled this well’.

But it’s not too late.

Make a plan to sit with your child today (or maybe put them to bed tonight and as you lie with them in the dark, start the conversation then. Because sometimes it’s easier without initial eye contact!)

  • Firstly, apologize for the way you dealt with the situation.
  • Explain to them you were really worried about what to say or how to respond.
  • You can tell them you don’t have a lot of experience talking about this, because Internet pornography wasn’t a thing when you were a kid (they think you’re ancient anyway!)
  • You can say you’ve been learning a bit about Internet pornography and you want them to know you won’t yell or be angry with them. But you’d really like to be the person they can trust to talk about this stuff with.
  • Ask them if they’d be willing to talk to you about it now. And if not, that’s okay. It may take time, some gentle probing questions, and an openness to having some real, honest conversations.
  • When it becomes part of your daily life, it will simply flow better for everyone.

Your Long-Term Dream for Parenthood

When you dreamed of being a parent, it wasn’t conversations like this you imagined. But be encouraged! When you acknowledge the difficulties, and face them head-on you are strengthened in your task to protect kids from porn.

And you never know, those hard conversations might actually open the door to a beautiful, deep relationship, producing more of those moments you dreamed of.

For more information about Emily Olivia, to purchased her book or download her action plan, head over to emilyolivia.com

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So – maybe not so hard to protect kids from porn after all, hey? Have you had any tricky convos like this with your kids? Let me know in the Comments section – only if you’re game to tell 🙂

Subscribe below to listen to the second part of the Emily Olivia’s conversation, when she talked about the women who subject themselves to pornography. It’s another side to “protect kids form porn” issue.

References

B.Y. Park et al, 2016
2 Hardy et al, 2013
3 Love et al, 2015
4 Larrañaga et al, 2016
5 Olivia, E. 2015 Put a lid on it: Exposing the pornography trap.

 

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