Study: Children as Young as Seven Watching Pornography

News: Commentary
by Paul Murano  •  •  December 6, 2019   

Many parents are unaware of their children's porn use

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In our pornified culture of sexual confusion, pornography is ubiquitous and easily accessible. Even children as young as 7 years old are gaining access to it, a new study shows.

Parents beware: Key studies from the past decade have shown the average age of exposure to pornography has been dipping lower and lower, as access to technology has become easier. Because of this, children have been facing online pornography at lower ages and in greater numbers.

Recently, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) conducted a major study of young exposure to pornography — the largest study of its kind to date. The findings are troubling.

Here are some of the key data points that parents, and all people of good will, ought to be aware of:

  • Children as young as seven years old are viewing pornography online.
  • More than half of children aged 11–13 have encountered online pornography.
  • Only 18% of those in this age bracket who have viewed porn sought it out intentionally. This means that 82% of children ages 11–13 encounter online pornography unintentionally. They come across it through words innocently placed in search engines or other traps the pornographers place.
  • Parents are unaware of the access and frequency of their children's pornography use: As many as 75% of parents claimed their children had never viewed porn, yet 53% of the children of those parents informed the researchers they had in fact viewed pornography.
  • Young girls are almost as likely to watch porn as young boys — 68% of the boys and 58% of the girls surveyed have watched pornography.
  • 83% of parents want age-verification controls in place on online porn sites, and 56% of children aged 11–13 said they were in favor of being "locked out" of explicit websites.

The study also shows that in our fornication culture, underage girls tend to view pornography to learn what to do during sexual encounters so they can "meet the perceived [porn-inspired] expectations of boys." They believe boys consider "aggressive sexual behavior" to be "normal" because of porn.

Matt Fradd, popular speaker, author and host of podcast Pints with Aquinas, wrote a book called The Porn Myth. Although Matt is Catholic, the work is a non-religious response to pro-pornography arguments. Drawing from the experience of porn performers as well as recent research from neurology, sociology and psychology,
Fradd builds the case for why porn is severely destructive to individuals, relationships and society.

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In The Porn Myth, after debunking much of the pornography propaganda that keeps this poison easily accessible, Fradd adds a section in Appendix 3 on "Brain Studies on Porn Users." Many recent scientific studies are laid out, indicating pornography affects and "rewires" the brain in a way that hinders one's life, work and relationships. It is reasonable to conclude that the earlier a person becomes obsessed with pornography, the more difficult it is to overcome.

Church Militant reached out to Fradd for a statement on the topic of children and pornography, who said, "With the advent of the internet, pornography has become accessible, anonymous and affordable in a way that it never was previously. Parents are giving their children access to the internet through the use of phones and tablets at an early age without locking them down with good filters like Covenant Eyes."

"This is absolutely unacceptable," he continued, "as these devices are very often the means by which our children sin. And as our Lord said, 'Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.'"

"Parents should know — to borrow a line from Peter Kreeft — that our Lord has not begun manufacturing styrofoam millstone," he added.

It may be safe to say the millstone Jesus speaks of applies particularly to those responsible for the creation of porn, and to those derelict in their responsibility to protect the innocent.

82% of children aged 11–13 encounter online pornography unintentionally.

Fradd reminded us, too, that 100% of all royalties earned from The Porn Myth (both the book and audio version) go directly to Children of the Immaculate Heart, an apostolate in San Diego that helps victims of sex trafficking.

The website also considers pornography from a non-religious perspective. It, too, has documented studies on what porn does to the brain and the lives of those who watch it.

The Catholic faith knows lust to be one of the seven deadly sins, and a perversion of the truth and beauty of marital love. Jesus states in Matthew 5:27–30 what may sound jolting to the ears of those who live in a pornified society such as ours:

You have heard that it was said, "You shall not commit adultery." But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into Hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into Hell.

Holy hyperbole aside, it is clear how seriously our Lord takes lust and pornography, and how seriously we ought to. As the Catechism states in sections 847 and 848, repentance and grace are necessary to be freed from sin, and St. Faustina attests that Christ greatly desires to grant His divine mercy to all those who sincerely seek it; nonetheless, top priority of every parent and government official must be to keep the innocent safe from this kind of profound harm (CCC 2353–2354).

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