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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 21, 2014

BISMARCK, N.D. - This generation of teens is hardly the first to check out pornography, but experts say the easy access to it today via technology distorts what young people view as healthy relationships and body image.

Elizabeth Schroeder, founder of Elizabeth Schroeder Consulting, said porn is designed for adults, and what young people do not always realize is that it is 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 said. "'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. We're very concerned about the impact on young people's self esteem."

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

With the Internet and smart phones, and free downloads without age verification, Schroeder said it is not feasible to block all access. However, she advised parents to combat the messaging in porn by being proactive and talking about it with their children.

"Explain to young people, 'This is where I think this is a problem, looking at these images,'" she said. "And then provide 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.

More information is available at http://on.fb.me/1hMiHlW.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - ND