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5 lessons parents can learn about porn from Billie Eilish

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A Pornhub logo is displayed at the company's booth at the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 24, 2018, in Las Vegas, Nevada. |

Billie Eilish deserves parents’ thanks. The 19-year-old singer of such notorious songs as Bad Guy recently opened up about being exposed to pornography at age 11, and her comments provide parents with five helpful lessons about raising kids in a digitally-connected, pornographic culture.

1. Childhood exposure to pornography is increasingly the norm.

Although many parents think their kids won’t be exposed to pornography, this is highly unlikely. According to a 2016 Barna study, over 60% of girls and almost all boys are exposed to internet pornography before the age of 18, and nearly 40% of all teens ages 13-17 are viewing pornography at least monthly.[I]

Parents don’t struggle to talk with their kids about things like school, sports, and money. It’s essential to also prioritize age-appropriate, regular conversations about sex and pornography.

2. Viewing pornography is a problem for girls, too.

In recent years, a few high-profile men have opened up about their pornography addictions, including Terry Crews and Russell Brand. Eilish’s admission highlights how young women are struggling as well. In fact, more than one out of three females ages 13-24 view pornography at least monthly.[ii]

When we only talk about pornography as a “guys’ issue,” it adds to the shame many young women already feel, and this leaves them less likely to reach out for help. It’s important to have these conversations with both sons and daughters, including how porn is shaping the boys and girls around them.

3. Pornography rewires the brain.

“I think it really destroyed my brain,” Eilish shared. In a real way, she’s right. According to Dr. William Struthers, pornography “hijacks” the brain’s God-given sexual design and rewires it to become habituated to pornography use.[iii]

Kids who are wrestling with pornography need their parents to show them grace and help them find support. Porn use is not just a phase that teens go through and outgrow. Rather, it is an addictive process that mal-adapts the brain and requires intentional work and often professional help to undo.  

4. Today’s pornography is misogynistic and violent.

According to Eilish, the porn she viewed was violent and abusive. One 2007 study found that 88% of the most popular fifty porn videos contained physical violence against women,[iv] and violence in porn has only escalated since then. Eilish says she experienced night terrors from the violent sex she witnessed in porn, and when she became sexually active, she engaged in behaviors she regrets. “It was because I thought that’s what I was supposed to be attracted to,” she said.

It is normal and healthy for kids to be curious about sex, but pornography is a terrible sex educator. Parents should do what they can to show themselves to be a safe place for their kids so they won’t take their sexual questions, insecurities, and concerns online.

5. Pornography is not our kids’ fault. Eilish seems to blame herself for the porn she viewed, stating, “I’m so angry at myself for thinking that [pornography] was okay.” The truth, however, is that that burden shouldn’t fall on an 11-year-olds’ shoulders. When a son or daughter is exposed to this kind of content and blames him or herself for the destruction that follows, it only deepens the shame and invites more secrecy.

Parents won’t be able to completely prevent kids from being exposed to pornography, but they can seek out good filters and accountability software to help, and most importantly, they can work to foster trust and conversational openness about all these things in the home.

Porn has hurt Billie Eilish deeply, and she’s not alone. So let’s pray for her, and let’s rise to the challenge of parenting in such a time as this.


[i] Josh McDowell, Barna Group, The Porn Phenomenon: The Impact of Pornography in the Digital Age (Ventura, California: Barna Group, 2016), 17.
[ii] Ibid.
[iii] William M. Struthers, Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2009).
[iv] Ana J. Bridges et al., “Aggression and Sexual Behavior in Best-Selling Pornography Videos: A Content Analysis Update,” Violence against Women 16, no. 10 (October 16, 2010): 1065-85.

Josh Glaser is the Executive Director of Regeneration and the coauthor of Treading Boldly through a Pornographic World: A Field Guide for Parents

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