I Found Pornography on My Teen’s Smartphone. What Should I Do?

Does it boggle your mind when you think about all the things a smartphone can do? Technology is an amazing tool that can open up world of discovery, but there are dangers lurking in that world as well. Especially when it comes to kids, the rise of smartphones means they are exposed to these dangers at younger and younger ages.

Most statistics say that the average age that a child is first exposed to pornography is 11 years old. When you find that your child is viewing pornography on their phone, what should you do? This is the question that a listener posed to Patrick Madrid recently on The Patrick Madrid Show. The listener found pornography on his 13-year-old’s phone and asked Patrick for his advice on how to handle it.

Patrick, himself a father of 11, responded first by saying, “I don’t want to grind on you, but I’m just saying this in the abstract, for everybody. Never give a child that young a smartphone. Because children are not only very adept at using technology (much more than we adults are) but they also are curious and they also have friends. And their friends who have smartphones are probably looking at this, and who knows what else, on their smartphones. They text and they message and they say, ‘Hey look at this picture!'”

“It happens very quickly, when you put a phone like that into the hands of a young person,” he cautioned. “Even if he’s raised right in a good home, it still happens. There are plenty of adults who can’t handle the pressure from porn on their smartphones. Much less to expect a 13-year-old boy or an 11-year-old boy to be able to do that. So my first piece of advice is to yank those phones so fast their heads spin.”

The listener explained that he planned to have a heart to heart conversation with his son about this, and Patrick encouraged him in this, saying “Now that the damage has been done, as you know, on your 13-year-old son you need to work to repair that damage. So, lovingly but firmly, I think the appropriate thing is to express your disappointment and express your disapproval so that he understands that this is wrong, it’s not something you are going to overlook, it’s not something that you’re going to allow. This has to stop immediately.”

“Then what I would do is make sure that he has some assistance,” Patrick continued. “Matt Fradd, he has a podcast called Pints with Aquinas, and he has all kinds of topics that he covers on his podcast, including pornography. So just look it up. He himself, as he talks about publicly, as a young man had a pornography addiction. He overcame it and wrote a book called The Porn Myth, and he also wrote another book called Delivered. And that second book might be particularly helpful for your son.”

Patrick also reminded the listener that he needs to let his son know he is doing all this out of love, and that this is not something that will likely be solved by one conversation. He said, “Let him know you love him, let him know you still love him, let him know you are going to walk with him and guide him, as his father, to help him get through this. And it’s going to be a process, because those images are now on his mind. It’s going to be a struggle and a process.”

After this conversation, another listener called in to applaud Patrick on his response. She explained that she is a psychologist, and that in her experience this is a message that all parents should heed.

“I was so glad that you spoke a good message loud and clear there,” she told Patrick. “I think that parents just don’t hear it publicly declared that this is bad. I think they’re asleep at the wheel on this. … They don’t even know how much they are in harm’s way. It just concerns me so much.”

Listen to the full conversation on the podcast.

Stephanie Foley serves as a Digital Media Producer at Relevant Radio®. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she studied journalism, and she has worked in Catholic radio for 12 years. Stephanie is a wife, a mother of three boys, and in her free time she enjoys reading, running, and really good coffee. You can find more of Stephanie’s writing at relevantradio.com and on the free Relevant Radio mobile app.