“They might as well have set a stack of porn magazines in my room.” That’s what my young adult friend said as he reflected on his parents allowing him to have a computer in his bedroom when he was a teenager. Looking back, he knows it was a bad idea.
During middle and high school he got mired in pornography for a few years because of that computer. His porn addiction made him feel gross and ashamed and he had little self-confidence. His parents’ greatest fault was providing little to no accountability with his computer use.
I know you believe and hope for the best in your middle school son, as you should. However on behalf of all teenage boys I would plead that you don’t give him total freedom with a computer, iPad, iPod, or cell phone. Don’t make an exception for your son and turn a blind eye just because “he’s a good kid” or “he’d never look at porn” or “he’s not like other boys.”
I’ve heard too many solid Christian teenage guys from great families admit a porn addiction to believe anyone is immune from falling into that temptation. From my experience there isn’t a typical “profile” of the kind of kid who struggles with porn.
I don’t want to be alarmist and cause you to suddenly worry about or distrust your teenage son. I am not suggesting you become overly protective and take away all of your son’s privacy. What I am strongly advocating for is that you provide at least some accountability for his digital media consumption.
There are lots of options to help with that, whether it’s protection software, regularly checking his texts and browsing history, not allowing him to have his cell phone in his room at night, etc. I don’t care much about what kind of accountability you use, as long as you do something to keep tabs on his digital activity.
Teenage boys are curious and naive and porn is easy to access from multiple digital sources. That’s a nasty recipe that usually begins to affect boys either during or even slightly before middle school. There’s nothing fun, liberating, or life-giving about a pornography addiction.
Keep your son accountable. Don’t give him free reign with his digital access. He’s not ready for that kind of responsibility, especially because porn is so easy to access with a smart phone or tablet. Even if he’s annoyed with you for looking over his shoulder from time to time, he’ll thank you someday.