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Recovering porn addict shares story to save kids

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Studies show the average age a child is first exposed to some type of pornographic images online is 6 years old.   FOX43's Amy Lutz explored ways to help safely raise our kids in today's always plugged-in digital world.

"It changes who you are.  I was once a healthy loving child who went outside to play and rode my bike all hours of the day to the point where I really didn't want to do that anymore, I would prefer to watch pornography," said Maurice Crane.

The self-professed recovering porn addict and now counselor says he first discovered adult magazines when he was just 11 years old and was quickly hooked.  He says it took him almost losing everything many years later when he was a minister in the Harrisburg area to finally change his life.  He says it's scary how easily adult content can be accessed these days.

"The pornographic industry targets young people. They target them on sites that you think are extremely benign and there is absolutely no connection to it."

Psychologist and author Dr. Jennifer Weeks says communicating with your children is essential in preventing future problems. She even offers tips on how to do that in her book, "The new age of sex education: How to talk to your teen about cybersex and pornography."

"No matter what you do, this is the digital age, kids are on their phones, their tablets, they are just connected all the time. There is going to be exposure," she said.  She also said  most parents don't talk to their kids because they either think it's too uncomfortable of a subject, or they feel that they don't need to.

She said, "Parents just think that I have such a good kid, that he or she is just not doing this. It has nothing to do with them being good kids, it's just being a kid, and it's that denial I think that goes into why parents don't talk about it."

However, she says they need to because having open communication with your child will cause them to feel comfortable asking you questions about what they see, instead of googling, which can go south quickly.

"What does scare me about incidental exposure in young children to online pornography is that their first exposure could be to rape pornography or beasteality or something that's way more hardcore that what we call vanilla pornography and so when you're young and you're looking at that and your body has a reaction , because that's biology, your brain doesn't know what to do with that," she said.

Crane, who has dedicated his life to helping others struggling with addiction, says that  parents have to restablish their role as the guardians of their children, and spend the time it takes to figure out filters on devices that could end up saving kids from a lifetime of problems.

"If we chose not to do that, then we are letting our children make decisions about their life at a very young age when they are not prepared, and we have to be extremely vigilant," he said.

RESOURCES:

Maurice  started a website to help others with porn addiction, you can find it here: http://www.thesilentaddiction.com

For tips on how to talk to your child, check our Dr. Weeks' book here: http://amzn.to/2eoyUhF

Here are some other apps to check out:
--- Mobicip: This app lets parents review browsing history and even remotely block certain activities.  It is free for iOS and Android.
--- mSpy: The app allows parents to monitor a wide range of smartphone activities, including videos, e-mails, text messages and more.  It is free for iOS and Android.
--- Norton Family:  An app that makes it easy for parents to set up web content filters and keep track of the physical location of children and sends weekly reports and alerts to stay on top of all activities.  It is free for iOS and Android but there are additional costs for some services.
--- Covenant eyes:  Find more information here:  www.covenanteyes.com