A Tech Guy’s Thoughts on Snapchat, Teens Collectively Panic
August 17, 2016

The Issue with Explicit Adult Internet Content : When, Not If

When asked in a youth ministry job interview what the biggest issue facing today’s youth is, my answer was easy.

Explicit Adult Content.

Over the last five years I’ve had the chance to intern and work on the Student Ministry teams with a few different churches. Of all the students I’ve mentored I have yet to meet a single teenage boy who has never viewed explicit content online. Not one. I’ve met kids who became hooked as early as 8 years old, or as late as 17. For some, their first exposure was at a sleepover with a bunch of kids huddled around a computer, for others, they google-searched a word they heard at lunch that day.

When it comes to this stuff, it is no longer a matter of “if” a kid will be exposed, but “when” it will happen. Below are just a few shocking statistics:

  • 9-11 years old is the average age of exposure to explicit content
  • 90% of boys and 60% of girls are exposed before the age of 18
  • 90% of 8- to 16-year-olds have viewed explicit material online
  • 51% of male and 32% of female students first viewed explicit content before their teenage years
  • 28% of 16-17 year olds have been unintentionally exposed to explicit content online

Ten year olds today are not driving themselves to a sketchy gas station to buy a dirty magazine with their allowance. They are accessing this same content online for free with the click of a button before they have any real world understanding of sex.

One researcher asks the question, “Parents, then, are faced with a new digital-era quandary: is it better to try to shield children from explicit content, or to accept that it is so ubiquitous that it has become a fact of life, requiring its own conversation?”

We say both. The numbers above are statistics. Facts. And they are not going away. Parents reading this, I cannot plead with you enough to take measures to safeguard your home. Protecting your kids from this kind of graphic content is the first step, but it is not enough. Eventually, whether it happens at school, a sleepover, or by complete accident, they will come across sexually suggestive content. The sex-talk is no longer simply “the birds and the bees”. There needs to be an ongoing, age-appropriate conversation as your children mature emotionally and physically.

This content is incredibly accessible and can cause long-term damage to the mind and heart of your teenager. Sadly, it is not longer a matter of “if”, but “when”, that a kid growing up in this high-speed internet and social media filled age will be exposed to this kind of explicit content. There are tools and resources out there to do it yourself, or you can hire a professional.

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