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The Proliferation of Pornography: What's a Parent To Do?

PHOTO: Stores make an attempt at propriety in displaying adult magazines with covers partially hidden, but teens have easy access online. Experts say it distorts what they view as healthy relationships and body image. Photo credit: Ed Kohler
PHOTO: Stores make an attempt at propriety in displaying adult magazines with covers partially hidden, but teens have easy access online. Experts say it distorts what they view as healthy relationships and body image. Photo credit: Ed Kohler
April 18, 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. – It's a far cry from magazines tucked under the mattress – and experts say the proliferation of pornography made available with today's technology is having an adverse effect on teens' views about dating and their bodies.

Elizabeth Schroeder, founder of Elizabeth Schroeder Consulting, says porn is designed for adults – and what young people don't always realize is that it's also designed to be a fantasy.

"So, when they see something, they say, 'Oh, that's what my partner is supposed to look like,’” she says. “’This is what I'm supposed to look like.'

“And of course, we know that what is shown in pornography are extremely exaggerated body parts. So, we're very concerned about the impact on young people's self esteem."

Schroeder says teens are also prone to do the same in reflecting the types of relationship behaviors they see in porn into their own dating relationships.

With the Internet and smart phones, and free downloads without age verification, Schroeder says it isn't feasible to block all access.

But she says parents can combat the messaging in porn by being proactive and talking about it with their children.

"And to explain to young people, 'This is where I think this is a problem looking at these images,’" she says. “And then, providing age appropriate information to them about sex and sexuality.

“We can really take the power from it and use it as an opportunity to talk about sexuality and relationships in a healthy way."

Schroeder has been working in the field of sexual health education for more than 20 years.

She's among the keynote speakers for the annual conference of Teenwise Minnesota, set for May 1 and 2 at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center.



John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN