Avoid Pornography? Nearly Impossible. Do This Instead
I was a teenager before the internet and mobile phones existed. If a teenager wanted to view pornography back then, he (not many girls viewed pornography back then–30%+ of viewers are female now) needed to find someone else’s stash or buy a magazine from the corner drug store. By the way, those magazines were behind the counter, sold only to adults. Pornography was avoidable before the internet. In fact, it was difficult for teenagers to find and see.
How many ways can a teenager, or an adult, access pornography today? Let’s mention a few:
- Home internet. This is most common. Even with filters and protection, teens share ways to beat the protection and view. If your home internet is locked down and prevents access, there are many more ways to access it.
- Nearby internet. Friends, neighbors, most local businesses and many other places offer free, unfettered, unfiltered access to the internet. Many even offer devices so no hardware is required.
- Public Library. The anti-censorship forces have rendered public libraries as safe zones for pornography viewers. Keep lobbying against this. It is harmful to our kids. Libraries should be porn-free, kid-safe zones. Nevertheless, you and your teenagers can access porn at many public libraries.
- Mobile phones. Smartphones are wonderful and offer great video and image viewing. The downside is that they’re also a frequently used font of porn. Think you can limit access by installing filters? Please see the first bullet. Think you can limit access by cutting off data plans? Think again–ubiquitous wi-fi access thwarts data plan limits.
- Television. The pay TV networks, think HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, all offer pornography among their regular offerings. If you’re offered free access for signing up for another service, always decline. But your neighbors and children’s friends may not decline.
So, if you can’t easily avoid pornography or help your children avoid pornography, what’s the solution? Learning to deal with the exposure in a healthy way and teaching your children how to deal with it. The porn purveyors are not going away and web access technologies will only get better and harder to restrict so you and your children need to learn how to confront porn exposure and immediately deal with it. Easier said than done? Maybe not.
The Power Over Pornography steps work so put them to use. Here is an easy-to-learn method of confronting and overcoming exposure to pornography:
- Acknowledge the exposure and temptation explicitly, deliberately and clearly. Here is an example: “Whoa, I didn’t choose to see this but I recognize it as pornography. I want to watch it and maybe click on the links to watch more.” When you state your exposure and temptation clearly and “out loud” in your mind, you transfer the thought from the reactive part of your brain, the limbic system, to the logical part of your brain, the frontal lobe. You’ll now be better able to deal with it.
- Accept it as normal. Example: “Pornography is everywhere so even thought I don’t seek it, it’s probably inevitable that I’ll be exposed to it.” Being exposed to it is not a cause for guilt or shame but a normal part of our modern life (the shameful part is that it is a normal part of our society and difficult to avoid). Shame leads to acting out so don’t treat the exposure or temptation to pursue as shameful.
- Exercise your power to choose. Example: “A large part of me wants to look at this for a while or even pursue more, but I have the power to choose my actions.” Our freedom to choose our actions, regardless of the strength of the temptation, is God-given and packed with power. Use it.
- Choose for this instance only. Example: “I can choose differently the next time I am exposed to pornography, but for this time, I choose…” When you leave yourself the option of choosing differently next time, you take away the feelings of deprivation that can cause acting out. When you choose forever, you deny your power to choose at the point of future exposures. You will rebel against that denial. Choose every time.
- Choose the outcome, not the action. Example: “I choose to love more deeply, have greater self-esteem, achieve more at work and school, etc.” These are real outcomes from avoiding pornography. There are many more benefits to choosing not to view pornography. See poweroverpornography/consequences for more outcomes.
Despite the increase in availability and access to pornography and the difficulty of avoiding exposure, you and your kids can learn to deal with it by using these steps. The preceding steps are not meant to be comprehensive. There are more steps and more details behind the steps that make them powerful and implementable. For more details and the complete program on how to overcome pornography and keep it at bay, check out the complete program in the book Power Over Pornography, available at Amazon, amazon.com/poweroverpornography. Also, take a look at the additional resources available at poweroverporn.wpengine.com.