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Sex And The City: Porn, puberty, and parenting

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I am shocked that my teenage son watches porn. Will he get addicted? Do I need to be concerned? Will it make him dysfunctional physically or psychologically in his future man-woman relationships?

Many teenage boys watch pornography. In many cases, they are initiated to do so at the behest of their friends or peers who also watch porn and who access pornographic content online. Finding porn is easy for young boys than ever before – thanks to bit torrent websites, proxy servers, porn video streaming portals, access to encrypted chat rooms and even VPNs (virtual private networks) through which anonymous browsing of adult sexual content can take place on the internet without anyone knowing or tracing their browsing history.

Teenage boys go through a series of physical, emotional and hormonal changes which make them curious about their sexuality and sexually excited at ‘peak levels’. This usually also acts as a big draw for them to explore the world of porn.


Yes, there is definitely the possibility of an adolescent getting addicted to porn.

Technically speaking, this possibility of addiction exists with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes or any other vices that a teenager may have exposure to. But does that mean you lose sleep over every possibility and worry yourself sick? Of course not! Concern is healthy feeling to have as his parent – as you understandably feel responsible for your son’s emotional and physical well-being.

Due to the inherent and rather commonplace awkwardness often associated with these parent-child talks about ‘sex’, it is important that you find a way to address the matter with him in a casual yet firm manner without being overly didactic.

You’ll also constantly manage the tone of the conversation so as to not put him on the back foot. Teenagers commonly feel like they are being cornered. They hate being treated like kids. They have a strong need to assert their independence and often when they perceive an adult trying to clamp down on their independent choices, they get defensive or distraught.

It’s especially challenging to deal with teenage boys and girls. Even a simple conversation with them requires special care to prevent them from going into ‘lockdown mode’ where it is difficult for them to see reason.

You will need to have this chat with your son at a mutually comfortable time for you’ll. Timing is key. You could choose to have this chat with him through a mediator whom he trusts or by engaging the services of an adolescent therapist or sex counsellor. You could choose to explain the situation to your son by incorporating the following points –

  • To found ones understanding of a sexual man-woman relationship based on porn is limiting and could warp ones viewpoint of a man-woman relationship in a damaging manner. This often doesnt happen consciously. Later on, its becomes rather hard to uproot ideas based on strong sexual audio-visual stimuli.
  • Porn presents a heightened, dramatic and oft unrealistic depiction of sexual chemistry and activity between partners. It even makes the process of mutual consent look ‘easy’ – which it certainly isn’t. Rapport and chemistry is a huge emotional investment that often takes years to ‘get right’ even when you seem to know someone very well.   
  • Private romance, tenderness, sensitivity, shared values like empathysustain romantic relationships in the real world. Porn ignores these nuances completely.
  • Porn, due to its format, dulls ones sensitivity by crassly depicting two people having an unusually voyeuristic or aggressive sexual encounter.
  • Porn stamps out the magic and mystery associated with discovering your partners body and needs as the preconceptions often colour the expectations from the sexual experience.

Teenagers try to get a grip on the various changes they are going through while still straddling academic, sexual, social and certain inert pressures that they may be exerting on themselves. Some adults joke these days saying that ‘growing up isn’t what it used to be’. With this much access to information on smartphones and the constant need to benchmark oneself as popular and desirable on social media, there’s a need to constantly meet certain standards that could also be deeply distressing for teenagers who feel like they’re constantly running a race to be ‘visible’ and ‘significant’.

Your conversation with your son will go a long way in helping him evolve into a responsible and socially well-adjusted adult but always leave him to make the ‘final choice’ after you’ve given him the information he needs. This way he’ll learn to take responsibility organically and won’t always be dependent on you as he matures into a man.

(Aman R Bhonsle is a qualified Psychosocial Analyst and a Professional Youth Mentor with specialisation in Transactional Analysis and REBT. He is available for consultation at the Heart To Heart Counselling Centre.)

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