Smartphone? Or Smutphone?


Porn is everywhere. And it’s killing us.

Hey, even Playboy says that pornography is soaking through every nook and cranny of our culture. The men’s sex mag stated that some 30 years ago 40% of adults watched porn. Now it’s reached a saturation point of over 80%. The publication didn’t say anything about how many kids may be diving into the murky recesses of the World Wide Web, but others have—and what they’ve discovered is particularly troubling.

Some have said that Internet porn may well be replacing sex-ed for children in this digital age. For instance, did you know that (according to ABC News) nine out of 10 kids between the ages of 8 and 16 have viewed some form of scuzzy sex video online? It’s as close as a smartphone or tablet away. In fact, that’s exactly what Winnifred Bonjean-Alpart told ABC news while being interviewed about her role in the 2012 film Sexy Baby. That documentary followed her from age 12 to 15 as she walked through an average tween/teen life.

“When I can reach into my back pocket and basically pull out some porn on my phone, it’s so easy, and you can’t really blame a bunch of children for not understanding how to deal with it,” Winnifred said. She told stories of how 8th grade boys her age were regularly watching porn on their phones in school, instead of following through on the independent reading or studying they were assigned.

And it’s not just the fact that kids watch that raw, stupefying nonsense that’s concerning. The especially disturbing part is how it so readily shapes their view of sexuality. And how it changes the ways they act with each other. Winnifred stated that she and her friends’ sexual boundary-pushing quickly crossed over into their social networking, where they posted sexy Facebook photos of themselves. And that became part of what Winnifred called a “sex-fulfilling prophecy” of sorts. “When you make yourself look a certain way, people are going to expect you to be that way,” Winnifred said. “And if you don’t, it’s strange.”

Of course, porn can cause trouble for people of all ages, not just kids. But as porn has become more mainstream, many people now read these types of things and pooh-pooh it all. Some reject it as moralization. For that matter, I’ve heard people say that porn only facilitates our own naturally built-in sexual responses. Why, what could be wrong with that?

For them (and you of course), I’ll end with this little clip from “ASAP Science” that actually speaks to the scientifically measurable effects of this mucky mess called porn. Obviously, it deals with a very mature subject, but it does so in a pretty clinical manner. And hey, one should always bring a dash of science into the mix when one can.


Who wrote this?

Bob Hoose is a senior associate editor for Plugged In, a producer/writer for Focus on the Family’s Adventures in Odyssey, a writer of plays and musicals and one-half of the former comedy/drama duo Custer & Hoose. He is a husband, father of three and a relatively new granddad.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

I'm pretty sure a parent's job is to protect their children.  Protect their health, protect their safety and protect their very souls.  Saying that just because it is all around and everywhere and we should be "selfless" in our love and compassion for others does not mean we jump in and say it's ok, it doesn't matter.  Parents are copping out.  Taking the path of least resistance. 

Since when is it OK for hard core porn to be pushed into the faces of children?  I don't understand why we are pop culture to shove this at every turn and we are to just shrug it off.   Let's talk about all the varying degrees of the "new normal" everywhere and respect for others and even celebrate their behaviors as "brave" but let's don't speak out about why it is wrong or how dangerous it is.  This is crazy on so many levels it really borders psychological abuse and manipulation.  It is NOT OK and I believe it is laying the ground work to the next step of lowering the age of consent.  Little children are not just miniture adults and we should stop treating them like they are.  Sure life is complicated and when faced with complicated issues we do discuss them openly and compassionately towards all but as a society we should still say NO this IS NOT OK.  NO - YOU SHOULD NOT cross that line.  Several lines have already been crossed and yes even celebrated and the age of consent will be next along with Polyamory.

Our children are being robbed of their innocence because as adults we are saying it's just a matter of time and they need to "learn" how to deal and cope and be compassionate of differences and untraditional mores.  We are grooming them for abuse and to be taken advantage of and I am sad that we don't realize how important this is and love our kids enough to fight a little harder.  We will answer to God and we better step back and say NO It is not OK.  The new normal is not and should not be anything goes, if it feels good do it and you can be whatever you want to be and sexuality is fluid and there are no rules.  This is not what is best for children.  It may be great for adults but not children!  Educators, Professionals and Parents are being lazy and selfish and I find it pretty sad that a 5 year old has to stand in line at the grocery store with Mom and practice his reading on the COSMO cover that says HOT SEX 101 ways to make your man scream"  Kids as young as 6 admitted to R rated movies and pre-teens with porn one click away on their smartphone INSTAGRAM account where they follow their Church Youth Group. 

The world is winning and the goal is to tear down, destroy, confuse, and kill our kid's futures, happiness and possibly even their health and lives because as parents we are so busy, self absorbed and have become so laid back in our attitudes we are really only making the next step come easier and sooner.....There are rules that have been given for our good and we are saying they don't matter when they do.  WE ARE GUILTY and God is not going to be impressed with our cheap excuses as to why we think it's OK to just accept it....... the problem is we are allowing the culture and society to influenced us and we are allowing the world to push porn and evil right into the faces of our children.  Very sad for all of society.  Not only are we gambling with the souls of our children at the same time the so called "LOVE" and compassion we are showing the lost and their children will never save or redeem them because we are saying it doesn't matter and they really don't need Jesus or to repent and turn away from sin.  It is not all good......

tyke More than 1 year ago
So what's the solution? Porn isn't going away, and teenage access to porn is only going to get easier, no matter what parents do. At best, they will only be able to limit their kids' exposure to porn, and perhaps delay it for a year or two.

Clearly, education is the key, but many parents would prefer not to have that discussion with their teenage kids (a) for fear of finding out what they already know, (b) for fear of being asked some awkward questions about their own use of porn or (c) just out of plain embarrassment.

There is also the other scientifically measurable effect of "forbidden fruit." Kids who are denied all access to candy tend to binge more on it when they have access, whereas kids who are used to having access to candy (in moderation) do not. I don't know whether that extends to pornography, but I wouldn't be surprised.

That's not to say parents should be allowing their kids access to some porn, it more speaks to the risks of strict control without educating the kids first. As the data shows, almost all kids will gain access to porn at some point, and the important thing is that they understand what they are seeing (i.e. it's fantasy, not reality) and what the appropriate response to it is.

And in an increasingly secular world, teaching kids "it's a sin" is likely not good enough. Abstinence-only education has been tried, and all the scientific data shows that it merely postpones the day when kids have sex and worse, when they finally succumb to peer pressure and they do have sex, they often engage in riskier behavior because they don't know enough about sex to know how to engage in it safely.

If kids are not taught that pornography is fantasy, there is a risk that they will want and expect the same in their own lives, which will hinder their emotional development and their ability to develop healthy relationships with the opposite sex.

I guess the question parents have to ask themselves is -- would they rather they be involved in educating their kids about the nature and risks of porn or would they rather their kids learn all about porn on their own?
seraph_unsung More than 1 year ago
I've been thinking the same thing. The answer is neither to encourage pornography nor to take the other extreme and treat kids as "dirty" for being legitimately interested in learning about sexuality.  I can say that when I was growing up, I remember my youth group teaching me basically nothing except what not to do, but even when I was a young teenager, I was wondering how to use these desires and actions for the glory of God even as a single person seeking to live a Biblically honorable lifestyle.  I wish I'd done more to push for answers, because our young people need them.  There are too many pointless taboos in our society, and I think the Church needs to be ready to teach the young and inquisitive what they CAN do to glorify God with their intimate desires even if marriage does not happen to be "around the corner" in His divine plan for them or us.  I've thought about the "forbidden fruit" aspect in exactly the same way.

I don't know of any kind of realistic American upbringing where a child will absolutely avoid any sort of tempting influences, but even if this is possible, which makes more sense in the long run -- focusing on "minimizing influences" (don't watch porn!  Don't go to Victoria's Secret!  Don't watch that movie!  It's dirty! [Remember the complaints from people when Plugged In said it was going to review "Fifty Shades of Grey?"]  Don't read that book!  It'll make you a pervert!), or admitting that ultimately we need God's help and to humble ourselves before Him so He can lead us into righteousness?
sosmallgirl More than 1 year ago
 I remember the shock I felt when I found a young family member looking up porn on google. They were about 10 years old at the time. That's why I think it's so important to talk to your kids about porn at a young age. I agree with tyke that a rules-focused approach isn't probably the best. I think that it's better to give kids the information rather than having them find out about it elsewhere. One thing I wish my parents had talked about me more was the issues of sex and porn. 
Andrew Gilbertson More than 1 year ago
Pornography does more than just 'stimulate.' It rewires the brain. It subverts intimacy. It seems so tempting, so easy- a 'guilty pleasure,' perhaps, but ultimately harmless- when you're young. But the repercussions can last for literally decades, sometimes lifelong. The things you dismissed as harmless, the people trying to warn you off of them as 'moralizing prudes,' may come back to haunt you, to deeply wound and hurt your spouse and the person you love most in all this life, and add distance into your marriage for years. I pray that my son will not fall into the trap of porn so common to this generation- and certainly known that, with internet access increasing, it can't be a matter of blocking his access, but only of raising him to make the right choices, a terrifying responsibility for a new parent- because a choice made so casually in the careless, lazy days of adolescence can have lifelong repercussions that the average Millennial can't yet conceive of.
seraph_unsung More than 1 year ago
What is "pornography," though?  The reason I ask is that I have seen some people, inside the church and outside of the church, treat even the Song of Solomon itself in all its holiness as if it's nothing more than cheap pornography.  I have seen people speak of Solomon himself as being a pervert.  But why?  If "pornography" is simply a depiction of sexuality or nudity (I have no idea how to even begin to define the term politically or legally), then the Bible itself is not exempt from that.
seraph_unsung More than 1 year ago
I think one option would be for the Church to be forthright in teaching young people to have selflessness and compassion for individuals they are romantically (or even merely sexually) interested in.  Sometimes we have to lay down our desires, even the ones that in themselves are not sinful, in the name of caring for others' needs or of simply honoring God.  Viewing sexually explicit content might not in itself teach people to truly love others as Christ love the church (Ephesians 5:25-33), but neither does treating sexuality as something dirty or taboo to discuss.  And I am not at all saying that you endorse such taboos, but those unhealthy restrictions are the sort of thing I've seen so much of.  And I'm reminded of the sheer specificity of Joshua Duggar's sexual requests ( ), which makes me think that parents and church teachers and leaders need to be brave enough to approach these subjects in compassion, neither mindlessly accepting every desire or heartlessly condemning every desire, because children and young adults cannot be "protected" from the world forever.  Sooner or later--and I'm thinking sooner--they must be taught to face it and to make their own decision to stand in Christ.