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Lauren Forcella: Good porn, bad porn? It all depresses focus, drive

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Posted: Friday, May 22, 2015 8:26 am

Dear Straight Talk: My 16-year-old son has been “different” lately and my motherly instincts told me something was wrong. I was scared to death it was drugs and searched his room when he was at school. I did not find drugs, instead I found horrible and sickening pornography. It concerns me that he looks at such material and might be addicted to it. How do I deal with this when I admittedly invaded his privacy? — 41, Lodi

Erin, 19, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Snooping was a sound move based on your son’s behavior. When my brother was 15, I discovered he was looking at porn on my laptop. I went to my parents out of love for him — talk about an awkward conversation! Later he thanked me. It was really emotional for both of us. I divulge this to encourage you to take action. Many negative behaviors stem from porn use, including aggression, which I could see in my brother then. If there’s no male figure in his life, don’t deny him by being scared of calling him out and setting consequences. Start by insisting his bedroom remain open, degrade his phone and confiscate his laptop at night to thwart late-night secrets. Help him reboot with sports, music, art, etc. This serious issue is defining our generation. Don’t enable it by staying quiet.

Grant, 18, Concord: You were right to search his room. His behavior showed it needed to happen. From research and personal experience getting both hooked and unhooked from porn, we males lose confidence and/or feel generally sad after watching pornography. While “horrible and sickening” porn is more troubling, any pornography has a bad effect and you need to approach him.

Samantha, 23, Toledo, Ohio: Bottom line: He’s living under your roof and you don’t want pornography in your house. Tell him frankly what you found. If he doesn’t abide by your rules, privileges (phone, computer, privacy) are revoked. Let him know you support healthy sexuality, not porn.

Karlee, 18, Bentleyville, Pennsylvania: When my mother realized my brother, 14, was watching porn, she freaked out that he’d be a sex addict or rapist. Talking to several guy friends, I learned it’s considered normal starting around 14. If it’s just raunchy sex, weird as this sounds, it’s not a concern. However, if it features children or shows guys beating or degrading women while having sex, that could end badly.

Andrew, 25, Cloverdale: Odds are he’s looked at porn for several years and stopping won’t be simple. Recruit a male mentor he feels safe talking with. A coach, scout leader or pastor may offer accountability and guidance. Besides stopping pornography use, your goal is healthy sexuality, positive body image and capacity for relationships.

Dear 41: Snooping for cause is perfectly acceptable so get over that. While actual drugs could still be involved, pornography is also a drug as far as the brain is concerned. Your brain on porn means attention deficit, low confidence, social anxiety, depression, brain fog and diminished drive. Both “normal” and “sickening” porn have these effects.

Porn also suppresses physical traits associated with manliness (note the increase of effeminate boys).

Unfortunately, as Karlee notes, pornography is so prevalent it is mistakenly considered a non-concern. American children start watching hardcore porn as early as six and the average age is 11. By 16, four out of five kids regularly access online pornography.

As for any drug problem, rally help, including male mentors. Vocalize a no-pornography rule, replace smart phone with flip phone, set an open-bedroom-door policy, make laptop/computer/

TV public use only, check Internet history, and monitor activities at friends’ houses. For facts and recovery support, I recommend you both read “Your Brain on Porn.” — Lauren

Ask a question at www.straighttalkadvice.org or PO Box 1974 Sebastopol, CA 95473. We are a youth-helping-youth nonprofit. If today’s column was helpful, please consider a donation!

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