Porn in plain sight

We’ve all been in the grocery store line at one time or another where we glanced to our peripheral only to see provocative images and headlines paraded across the front of a magazine cover. Of course, now these same periodicals offer online versions as well, clickable from frequented locations like Snapchat (the overwhelming favorite communication choice of young people today, by a landslide).

Do you think your kids ever peek at these?

I asked a handful of kids last week. “When you’re browsing Snap stories and you see an interesting Cosmo or Daily Mail headline… do you click on it?”

Every kid I asked said yes.

Do you have any idea what your teens and tweens are reading?

Today we posted a brand new Youth Culture Window article on our sites unveiling exactly what our girls see when they crack open an issue of Teen Vogue. When I was editing this article last week, I thought I’d take a peek and see what teens would see if they clicked on some other popular periodicals like Cosmo, seeing that it was one of the featured magazines linked by SnapChat.

One of the first online articles I saw was titled, “My Hookup With a Pop Star.” Apparently every Wednesday Cosmo posts an excerpt from what they call an “exceptional Wettpad fictional story.” What I didn’t realize is that I would be reading porn. And no, I’m not just using that word to describe something a little bit sensual, I really mean it in the true sense of the word. The story described the play by play of a sexual encounter in explicit detail.

Sure, we all know that if our kids want to see porn, they can just secretly click on actual porn. But what many moms and dads don’t know is what our kids are reading in plain sight under the guise of a “fashion” magazine. And as a guy who talks with parents about this all the time, I can assure you, most parents have no idea the content their kids are soaking in each day.

I tell you this for one simple reason: in a world so full of explicit lies, we need to be having continual conversations with our kids about the explicit truth.

Sadly, Christian parents are specifically scared of these conversations, specifically about sex. The excuse I always here is this: “I’m afraid I’ll get them curious about it.” Or, “I don’t think they’re thinking about it.” Or, “They’re too young!” So parents keep the subject hush hush. Then kids go to Google or YouTube for their answers.

Do you have any idea what they’ll find there?

I’m not saying you need to bring it up. The world brings it up all the time. We just need to stop dodging the subject. And trust me, if your kids go to public schools and are on social media, you need to be having these conversations now!

Just don’t freak out! I say this because when most parents read a blog post like this, their first reaction is to run up to their kids and demand their phones. Then they ban their kids from Snapchat and try to find the perfect porn filters for all the devices in their house. Sadly… this reaction overreaction doesn’t work for two reasons:

  1. Parental controls and porn filters are far from failsafe. (Probably why this new company is focusing more on time limits, and less on blocking internet)
  2. Our overreaction only makes our kids walk away thinking, “Mom and Dad don’t understand my world, and know I know they’re the last people I’d talk to about any of this.”

It’s something I shared specific research about in my book, More Than Just the Talk. We need to create a comfortable climate of continual conversations about sex and intimacy. We need to become their go-to person with these questions.

Are you having these conversations?

Are you just setting up filters and blocks… or are you trying to “walk with” your kids and dialogue with them through these decisions? (I honestly wish I would have done that more with my kids.)

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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One Response to Porn in plain sight

  1. Les says:

    Thanks for this heads-up and warning. As you noted most parents probably wouldn’t even be aware of how frequently clickbait gets used, and that reach continues, YouTube itself should be a perfect example of the concept.

    The pervasiveness of the porn issue is incredible. And just as incredible is it continues and expands with the public tolerance and acceptance, or just neglect.

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