The dangers of online porn
The internet can be a great tool for learning tool for kids but it can also provide easy access to graphic material like pornography.
"Just a few simple keystrokes make it easier than ever to access pornographic images online making a scary situation for parents who have young children growing up in the digital age,” said CBS 4 Anchor Jessie McDonough.
"Now that it is more accessible, you have kids that are being exposed to it as early as 9 years old,” said Tim Mendoza, Clinical Director of the El Paso Child Guidance Center.
“That’s pretty alarming,” said parent Eric Robledo.
“It is insane. There needs to be more protocols in place to prevent this from happening,” said parent Jay O’Connor.
El Paso Child Guidance Center's Tim Mendoza and Emergence Health Network's Celeste Nevarez say adolescent exposure to online pornography can have a lifetime effect on a child’s mental health.
“It can lead to experimentation, some curiosity, some exploration, some self-exploration,” said Nevarez.
"A lot of that pornography can be a violent type of pornography which then will normalize that for the kids and they'll think that it's normal to have violent sex or they'll think aspects of rape are normal as well,” said Mendoza.
"This can keep escalating and escalating until when they are older, in adolescence they could then be attracted to younger kids as well,” said Mendoza.
''It can make them more aggressive as future boyfriends or girlfriends. It can make them addicted to pornography, said Nevarez.
That’s what happened to a 33-year-old woman who spoke with CBS 4.
“I have an addiction where I watch pornography,” she said.
She asked to remain anonymous and will be identified as Marie.
She says she was forced to watch pornography for the first time by her mother's then-boyfriend.
"The very first time I was exposed to pornography was at the age of 11,” said Marie.
Marie says the pornography still has a grip on her life.
“I’m trying to cope with my addiction but it is hard,” said Marie.
“I think it is very disgusting,” said Marie.
She says she can't go to sleep at night without watching it and it often consumes her day while her 3-year-old daughter is at school.
"Now my life is mess,” said Marie.
Nevarez says there are ways to prevent your child from being exposed.
She suggests young children having flip phones that can’t access the internet, banning computer and video game access from bedrooms and private areas and having all passwords to social media platforms.
Kids who have the most vigilant of parents can still be at risk.
Nevarez and Mendoza suggest keeping an eye out for signs of exposure like anxiety, masturbation or kids trying to kiss other kids.
“What do you do once the exposure has already happened?” asked McDonough.
“You can find a hard-copy book of info online to hand to your child to read together so it's an interactive or guided conversation. If you aren't sure what to say,
things like counseling where we can talk about it in a safe environment all of us together and answer any questions openly and honestly,” said Nevarez.
"You know kids are going to be exposed through kids at school so it is important to keep an open dialogue with kids about sex and the biology behind sex, especially at their developmental level,” said Nevarez.
More than anything experts say keep an open dialogue because if you aren't explaining healthy sexual relationships with your child, the internet and porn are doing it for you.
If you think your child has been exposed to pornography, the El Paso Children’s Guidance Center and Emergence Health Network have professionals that can help you talk to your child.
The numbers are listed below.
915-887-3410- Emergence Health Network
915-562-1999- El Paso Children’s Guidance Center.