ABC recently posed the question: “Is the Internet Driving Pornography Addiction Among School-Aged Kids?” In their article, they interviewed Nathan Haug, a 17-year-old on his way to becoming an Eagle Scout. Nathan has a high GPA, swims competitively, serves on his student council, is involved with his church and is one of eight kids in his family. What his family and friends didn’t know was that for many of his teenage years, he was struggling with a dark addiction to pornography.
Nathan’s habit started when he was just 12 or 13 years old, and his porn use quickly became part of his daily routine. As he described:
"It got to deleting specific searches and cleaning up my messes afterwards to the point where I timed it masterfully," he said. "I'd give myself time to look at it or watch it and then I'd plan time to completely clean the history. Sometimes I'd even search things afterwards just to make it look like someone didn't just clean it."
As a result, Nathan became withdrawn and isolated. He later felt as though his addiction was preventing him from doing the things in life that he really wanted to do.
Breanne Salvidar is a 22-year-old from Texas who struggled with addiction to online pornography during all of her high school years. As she explained to ABC, “It tore me up on the inside. I started to isolate myself, because I hated what I was doing. I hated that I couldn't stop." Like Haug, Saldivar said she first looked at pornography online around age 12 or 13, but within a few years, she was hooked and didn't understand why.
"I had no idea it was addictive," she said. "I would say that this is something that was not just me. I knew tons of students who were in my grade, my peers, who were struggling with the same thing."
Both Haug and Salvidar aim to de-stigmatize porn addiction in their work with Fight the New Drug, a goal that is very close to my heart and very close to the heart of our work with our work at XXXchurch.com. As a parent, it is critical that we help our kids to understand that it’s not weird and they are not perverted for wanting to look at naked people online—being interested in sex is part of how we were designed. Through having ongoing, open conversations with our kids—through de-stigmatizing these “uncomfortable” topics, we can help our kids avoid the track that Haug and Salvidar found themselves on… a track of isolation and addiction. Remember that, regardless of your kid’s age, it’s critical to have filters and accountability software (like our X3watchPRO) on your computers and all Internet-enabled devices to prevent early exposure and hidden access. If you do find that your kids are struggling with pornography addiction, see if they would be open to talking to a counselor or an older mentor about accountability and helpful ways to begin to break the patterns of addiction. And be sure to check out our parent resources for more information to help you work through these issues with your kids.