Mom concerned about teen son watching porn

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Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist. ...

DEAR AMY: My 18-year-old son and I were sharing a computer. I stumbled on his activity when he left it open. It was deeply disturbing to view the sites he had visited. Our daughter, 22, states, "It's no big deal, Mom. All the boys do it now." This is not Playboy on steroids. It is shockingly graphic in real time. How should we respond but simultaneously promote healthy sexuality and the notion of responsible erotica? How should parents respond to the tsunami of Internet pornography that our children discover, visit and revisit? It is readily discovered on any smartphone, laptop or desktop. This could hijack young brains big time! I am liberal, but this is almost sickening that he might think this approaches normal sexual behavior. Help!

-- Concerned Parent

DEAR PARENT: According to a survey of 4,000 men and 4,000 women by Cosmopolitan magazine, more than 30 percent of men surveyed said they watch porn every day. Seventy-one percent of men age 18-34 watch porn at least once a month. The first viewing of pornography typically happens in pre-adolescence.

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Psychologists refer to one effect of hard-core porn on the consumer as "sexual script theory." The pornographic story line replaces real-world sexual experience. Studies have concluded that obsessively viewing porn actually rewires the neural pathways of the brain, much like opiate drugs do.

And, like opiates, porn can be addictive. It can supplant, or destroy, real-world relationships. It can also deaden, rather than enhance, a person's sexual relationships with real people.

Your job as parents is to do exactly what you are doing, which is to be aware and to question your son about his habits and behavior. His father (or another adult male) should talk to him about the difference between pornography and real-world sex (and love).

As his mother, you should tell him exactly how you feel about this and that you expect him to make choices that are healthy.

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