When I meet with parents of children dealing with a pornography addiction, they often admit they turned a blind eye to some of the early signs that their kids were going through a difficult time. Sometimes it just feels easier to ignore warning signs rather than confront the reality that our daughter or son has real sexual desires and may be dealing with a struggle as dark as pornography addiction. We would like to think that they won’t want to date, make out, have sex or look at sexual content ever—or at least not until college, but statistics show that children are being exposed to pornography by the time they are eight, and as a result, many are struggling with addictions to pornography and the related impact pornography has on their offline relationships before they even hit their tweens.
This is why it’s so critical for parents to use parental controls on all Internet-enabled devices, engage regularly in conversations with their kids about healthy sexuality and be vigilant about talking to other parents about the importance of protecting their children and yours from sexual content. But if you, like many other parents, are a little behind the game, make sure you are both paying close attention to your kids and watching out for the warning signs that they may be struggling.
Here are some top warning signs that the parents I have worked with mention overlooking that could have served as red flags that their child was dealing with a pornography addiction:
Your child may be viewing pornography if:
- You notice they are showing signs of premature sexual activity or an unusual curiosity about sexuality.
- You notice your child using suggestive terms of suddenly dressing more provocatively.
- There are increased pop-ups, spam messages, viruses or other inappropriate content on your family computer.
- Your child has erased the computer’s history.
- Your child often changes the computer screen quickly when you enter the room.
- You child becomes increasingly defensive, secretive or moody.
- You notice a change in their ability to complete school work, their desire to spend time with friends or in their level of restfulness.
- You discover pornography or sext messages on any of the Internet-connected devices in the home.