Teen get­ting ad­dicted to In­ter­net porn

The Washington Post Sunday - - DIVERSIONS - Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribpub.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tri­bune, TT500, 435 N. Michi­gan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611. AMY DICKINSON

Dear Amy: My hus­band and I are pro­fes­sion­als. We live in a beau­ti­ful and af­flu­ent part of the coun­try.

We have two sons, ages 14 and 10. Some time ago we dis­cov­ered that our older son had ac­cessed pornog­ra­phy by cre­at­ing a false ac­count on our com­puter. Af­ter con­fess­ing, he seemed con­trite and promised us that he wouldn’t do it again, and we de­cided to give him an­other chance.

A few months later, we gave him a smart­phone for his 14th birth­day, but we chose one that didn’t have many bells and whis­tles. We made him sign the con­tract, and (just for good mea­sure) I asked my younger son to hold on to the locked phone once the boys came home from school.

I found out yes­ter­day that on the days that my younger son was at af­ter­school ac­tiv­i­ties, my older son was home watch­ing porn. My hus­band and I are stunned, shocked, re­pulsed and have no idea where to go.

We are wor­ried that if I en­roll him in a group for porn ad­dic­tion, he will learn other things that we would rather he not be ex­posed to. I am try­ing to find re­search about this, but am not get­ting the in­for­ma­tion I am seek­ing. Other than this, my son gets all A’s, plays a sport, reads vo­ra­ciously and in gen­eral ap­pears to be a re­spon­si­ble kid.

Very Wor­ried Mom

Your son cre­ated a fake ac­count to view porn at home— and your longer-term re­ac­tion was to give him a smart­phone and have his 10-year-old brother con­fis­cate it af­ter school. Re­ally? Your older son’s choice to re­turn to his habit means it is more than youth­ful cu­rios­ity. You should do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to con­trol his ac­cess (and be alert about your younger son’s In­ter­net us­age).

There is a lot of in­for­ma­tion on the in­crease of teens be­com­ing “ad­dicted” to In­ter­net porn, in­clud­ing re­search pa­pers pub­lished by the Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health. This in­for­ma­tion, like the porn your son con­sumes, is just a click away.

The re­search on the im­pact of pornog­ra­phy on the ado­les­cent brain is alarm­ing. Teens who con­sume vi­o­lent porn (the great ma­jor­ity of it in­volves vi­o­lence) are much more likely to en­gage in ag­gres­sive or vi­o­lent sex­ual be­hav­ior. They are far more likely to be­come sex­u­ally ac­tive at an ear­lier age and to have (ob­vi­ously) un­re­al­is­tic views about sex and re­la­tion­ships.

Your fam­ily needs pro­fes­sional help and sup­port. Anx­i­ety may be an un­der­ly­ing is­sue for him. At the out­set, you and your hus­band should try to re­duce your hours at work so one can be home when the kids are there af­ter school. Along with pro­fes­sional coun­sel­ing and parental in­volve­ment, sup­port and com­mu­ni­ca­tion are cru­cial for your sons.

Dear Amy: I just fin­ished a ses­sion with my teenage son’s ther­a­pist. As the oneyear mark of his sui­cide at­tempt ap­proaches, we dis­cussed the ex­tra sup­port he needs as he works through this an­niver­sary. “Ripped Off Mom’s” con­cern over her child not re­ceiv­ing her due in terms of birth­day gifts was cer­tainly the comic re­lief I needed as I help my son cope with his clin­i­cal de­pres­sion.

Life Pro­vides Per­spec­tive

This is an an­niver­sary to cel­e­brate. Thank you for pro­vid­ing this per­spec­tive.

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