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Parenting Quaranteenagers: From Prom to Porn, How COVID-19 is Impacting Teens
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Parenting Quaranteenagers: From Prom to Porn, How COVID-19 is Impacting Teens

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Parenting Quaranteenagers: From Prom to Porn, How COVID-19 is Impacting Teens

Millions of teenagers are seeing their hopes for prom, graduation, and end-of-the-year school celebrations come to an end. These exciting, once-in-a-lifetime experiences have been replaced by quarantine, leaving teens isolated from their friends and social lives.

In this new climate, it’s easy to see that ‘senior skip-day’ has lost all its meaning. And teens are really grieving these cultural losses, as they should. But as parents support them during this disappointing time, I would encourage moms and dads to pay close attention to the fact that our teens are suddenly spending a lot more on the Internet, and a lot more time locked up alone in their room with nothing but the computer for company.

As a result of the coronavirus quarantine, parents need to reconsider the way they parent during COVID-19, particularly as it relates to sex and the pressure teens face from the media.

Right now, teens have dramatically increased the number of hours they spend on their devices, and it’s hard to control this usage, especially if it’s allegedly for schoolwork. But that means their likelihood of being exposed to pornographic material has hit a record high, along with the fact that their boyfriends or girlfriends may be amping up the pressure for them to try sexting or sending X-rated photos.

A bored teenager stuck at home may not see the harm in a racy Zoom meeting with their boyfriend, which is why it's so crucial for parents to have serious talks with their kids about these risks before it’s too late.

Kids don’t realize that their boyfriend or girlfriend can take screenshots of their Zoom meetings or their Snapchats. These images can last forever, and it can incredibly devastating for the victim of this violation.

Parents need to talk to their teenagers about how there is no ‘safe’ way to sext, and that as underage people, they shouldn’t be sending or receiving any material like this. Not only is it against the law, it’s simply too risky, and even if their partner is trustworthy, it is still possible for hackers to find a way to access Zoom meetings and other data.

In addition, parents need to reconsider the way they talk to their teenagers about pornography.

Don’t assume your kids have never seen porn. Instead, assume just the opposite. They have seen porn, and possibly a good deal of it. We don’t want that to be the case, but it very likely is: So we have to stop thinking that the conversation about porn with our teens can end with ‘Just say no.’

So what should we do instead?

We need to really give our teens the ability to guard their minds with wisdom and foresight, with the realization that porn can be incredibly unrealistic and even dangerous for the parties involved, and we need to warn them that porn can forever alter their body’s sexual response and sexual desires.

Watching porn can literally ‘rewire’ our brains’ sexual reward mechanisms, and this is especially true for vulnerable teenagers whose brains are not fully developed until they are 25 years old.  Watching porn can literally shape their brains in a way that is neither beneficial nor desirable for their future sexual experiences. This is something teenagers don’t really realize, so parents need to help them see that porn can actually make them less likely to enjoy sex and be a good partner in the future, which will be more compelling them simply telling them ‘Don’t look at porn.’

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