Catching your child viewing inappropriate material once isn’t much of an indication that they have a pornography addiction. This content will occasionally pop up if your devices don’t have protective tools installed and your child has somehow exposed the system to spam, malware, or a virus.
Pay Attention to the Signs
Signs of a serious problem require a little more examination to pick up on, so if you suspect that your child regularly views pornographic material, keep an eye out for the following hints.
- Secretive Behavior While Online: Your child might close their browsing windows as soon as you enter the room, lie about needing to do homework all evening, go online specifically at night, or sit in a way that positions their screen away from the door.
- Changes in Mood or Mental Health: Your child may seem withdrawn, fatigued, moody, or act like they can’t wait to return to their room once they leave it. Additionally, be aware of ANY instance in which your child acts out sexually or expresses sexual knowledge they should not have.
- Questionable Browsing History: You might find pornographic sites in your child’s browsing history, but then again you might find seemingly nothing at all. Either an empty history or one that has several hours of activity on a single page is just as concerning (your child might be leaving that tab open while viewing porn in an Incognito tab).
- Long Bathroom Trips at Odd Times: Your child might start spending a long time in the bathroom when they never did in the past. While they might be focusing more on their hygiene, coming out of a 30-minute shower still looking or smelling unclean is a red flag.
- You’ve Caught Them More Than Once: A single time catching your child looking at inappropriate material isn’t uncommon, but if you have caught them several times, viewing pornography has probably become a regular activity that you’re only walking in on occasionally.
How Can YOU Help?
First and foremost, it’s important to talk to your child if you suspect they have a pornography addiction. Avoid judgment or shaming, but express your concern, and even if your child denies the behavior, have the talk with them. Keep the floor open so they can come to you at a later time if they’re ready.
Set up protective measures online, like parental controls so your child can no longer access that sort of material on the devices they own (there are plenty for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android). Additionally, you might also want to have them go to bed at night without access to any devices.
Finally, if you have taken all the measures you can and you feel your child is still finding a way to view pornographic material on a regular basis, the issue might be beyond your scope as a parent. There’s no shame in seeking professional help when your child needs it. Speak to his or her pediatrician to receive a referral to a child therapist who is experienced in dealing with porn addictions in young people.