Porn is Being Advertised to You (and Your Kids) All the Time

When I work with sex and porn addicts, one of the biggest challenges they face is the fact that porn is being advertised constantly. I don’t just mean the crazy emails that end up in your spam folder, or sidebar ads on websites. I mean it’s showing up in video games, in public, and even through a line of clothing.

Make no mistake, this is 100% deliberate. Porn companies are trying to make the idea of porn seem mainstream. They’re trying to make it seem like it’s not a big deal to have porn on your computer even if you’re at work, in public, or worst of all, even if you’re nine years old.

Believe me when I say this is only making the problem worse, kids are stumbling upon porn at an age where they are ill-equipped to process what they see. This can be very damaging to them, and this kind of exposure is going to lead to more porn addiction and less true intimacy when these kids grow up into adults.

Here’s Why Kids are so Vulnerable

Talk to any sex or porn addict, and they are going to have a story that starts back in their childhood. For guys who came of age in the 70s, 80s, or 90s, that story probably has something to do with stumbling upon a magazine, videotape, or some other physical object that hadn’t been properly secured for whatever reason. Kids who are growing up right now are going to have completely different stories.

For example, websites like PornHub are currently working out advertisement deals through gaming consoles. In other words, you might have your home computer and mobile devices locked down pretty well, but your child may still run across explicit content when they login to their Xbox game.

Furthermore, some companies are trying to work out advertising deals with specific games that are wildly popular–most notably, Fortnite. Yep, that free-to-play game on which your kids spend every minute they can? It might become a porn advertising platform.

Even if it doesn’t, right now, you could search for Fortnite content on YouTube or Twitch, and find porn stars playing the game in suggestive clothing. Now there might not be anything overtly explicit about this content, but your child is beginning to associate one of their favorite games with a porn star. It doesn’t take huge leap of logic to think that they will begin seeking out more content from that person.

Worst of all, porn sites feature lots of user uploaded content, meaning anyone can take an afternoon to animate recognizable videogame characters in sexual situations. Again, your child might stumble upon this content innocently, thinking it has everything to do with their favorite game.

It’s a minefield out there for kids right now.

What Can Parents Do to Combat This Onslaught?

If you listen to these porn companies, they will come out and say that they would never dream of specifically targeting children. Yet all you have to do is look at the evidence to see that this claim is dubious. Videogame characters and sexual videos, porn stars playing video games, adults wearing costumes from video games and engaging in explicit acts. Certainly, the companies are not doing anything to pull this content from their website.

Now let me ask you this: who on earth is looking up that kind of content? It’s kids. Maybe your kids.

So this is my best advice to parents: talk to your kids about porn. Maybe you’ve already had “the talk,” and you’re thinking your work is done. It’s not. Every day, any time your children come into contact with an Internet-connected device, they have an opportunity to stumble across highly explicit sexual content.

You might have every ad blocker, Net Nanny, and content restriction in place, but believe me, they are still going to run into it. Think back to your own childhood—maybe your dad didn’t have any Playboys in the house, but your friend’s dad did. This isn’t any different. All it takes is one kid flashing their phone to another kid, and boom… that’s that. They’ve seen porn.

A lot of parents have the mistaken idea that mentioning the existence of pornography is only going to serve to tip off your kids to its existence. Newsflash: they probably already know about it. Maybe their friend’s phone is not as locked down as their own. Maybe their friend has an older brother. Or, as mentioned above, maybe they stumbled onto this content while searching for something completely unrelated and innocent.

The point is, if your child runs into this content when they are completely unprepared to handle it emotionally, it’s going to be damaging. You have an opportunity as a parent to help prepare them for what they are going to see.

Help them understand that what they see on that screen is as fake as any action movie or video game. Let them know that porn is not an accurate representation of what an intimate and loving couple do together. It’s not even an accurate representation of sex. Talk to them frankly about why porn can be damaging both to them, and perhaps even the people on screen.

Equipping kids with this information is a positive, not a negative. Give them the tools to suss out bad content when they see it.

Need More Help?

Let me just end by saying this: the other day, I got a phone call from an 11-year-old. A fifth grader called in to a porn addiction counselor. This is not the first time that has happened, and sadly I doubt it will be the last. This is a kid who was so desperately in need of guidance, he picked up the phone and called a professional. But here’s the thing – you have the ability to offer that kind of guidance to your own children. You can get out in front of this problem before it has a chance to become a problem.

If you yourself struggle with sex or porn addiction, you might find it especially difficult to talk to your kids. That’s understandable, and it’s also something we can help with. Lots of the men we work with happen to be parents, and we have helped many of them navigate the situation so that their children do not wind up repeating the same behaviors.

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