The Third Talk

My name is John Van Arnam. I am a Dad, a coach and a believer in kids. I put this page on the site so that you would know who I am and why I have started this campaign. I volunteer as a basketball coach, I volunteer as an advocate, I have assisted search engines to create family safe search practices, and I’m the Associate Director of Sixty Second Parent, a child health website providing vetted medical information to parents of young children.

I am the Founder of The Third Talk Foundation™ Inc. A non-profit 501(c)3, non-partisan, non-denominational, education campaign.

Three years ago I began to speak with my kids about the challenges that they would face online, including bullying, shaming, and online pornography. I gave them phones, I put in filters, I left the computers in the kitchen. The more research I did on the topic the more I noticed the lack of any realistic discussions about online pornography in schools, faith-based institutions, and communities. I needed to be more comfortable having this conversation. Parents, in general, need to be more comfortable having this conversation. The research shows that this just isn’t the case, at least on a national level. I also realized that no matter how well versed my children might be, that they were going to run into kids of all sorts of varying degrees of information on the topic, and that the expectations of these kids could be very different from mine, and others. I had to talk to them as well, or at least to their parents.

The remedy, of course, was a national conversation on porn.

It wasn’t as easy as it sounds. I spoke with lawmakers, school boards, individual educators, the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, Senators in my district, Senators in other districts, Congress Men and Women, Law Enforcement, and so on. I was unable to find a clear path to have the porn conversation become as easy as the conversations we already have about smoking, drinking, and drugs. We talk about riding in cars, stranger danger, and even stop drop and roll.  There is not a child in middle school today that doesn’t know smoking is bad for them, even though statistically some of those kids will still smoke. We need to have that level of conversational courage on the challenges that porn can present to young kids. As an aside, I have to admit that while I was familiar with the requirements of stop drop and roll, I was pretty sure early on, that the possibility I would have to use that information during my lifetime was negligible. Resisting porn, (especially at the age of 10, 11 or 12), is information our kids will use every single day for the rest of their lives.

Everyone that I have had the honor and blessing to speak with agreed that the porn conversation needed to happen. No one had a plan how to do it.

So I’m doing it myself. I have created this Parent Funded education site called The Third Talk™. The talk about porn. I have created my curriculum with the assistance of physicians, pediatricians, professors, authors and trained sex therapists. I am using vetted and accredited information and statistics. I have created the platform for communication, and included only fact-based information.

How are you affecting change?

Talking to kids and their parents!

What are your expected results?

We plan to reduce the number of porn videos viewed by children in half by 2020.

Why are you doing this?

When your daughter goes on a car date and is able to say with confidence, “I’m not a ‘porn’ girl”, without fear of ridicule for her lack of interest in a culture’s expected behavior, you’ll know we have turned the tide. When your son can explore his own sexuality without feeling the need to perform on a level he is uncomfortable with, or doing things he thinks he shouldn’t be doing, we will have ended porn-culture. It starts with our young people, without shame or blame, and with a realistic understanding of their age-based and natural interest in a normal, healthy, lifelong aspect of their personality.

Why now?

Porn has existed for a very long time, long before the internet, long before movie theaters and the printing press. However with a prolific amount of online porn, smartphones in the hands of kids, busy parents, savvy internet marketing, and a lack of any structured education in our schools or churches, our kids now live in a world with the perfect storm of access to porn, and a lack of information about porn. It is in that environment, that our kids are learning, on their own, about the sexuality they’ll express for the rest of their lives. We can do a better job of preparing them for this inevitable environment. Together with the help of parents, we are already on our way.

Is this a specific ideology, or religion?

The Third Talk™ is information about growing up in a porn-soaked internet environment and how to manage that successfully within your own family’s setting; and nothing else. There are purposefully no ideological belief systems incorporated, and this is not “sex-ed”. We would hope you would include your own family’s belief system into any conversation you have with your own children. We are a non-profit, non-denominational, non-partisan, non-biased, prevention education platform. The Third Talk™ does not promote any agenda except communication. The Third Talk™ is an initiation of the process of parents talking with their own kids. It is a fact-based presentation of common sense information and relatable reasons why young boys and girls should simply avoid this content altogether. We provide information that allows for every parent to tailor the discussion within their own family’s belief system and values.

For two decades we’ve sought a remedy to porn that is “hands-off”. Those solutions have all failed; period. There is an answer however. It’s the simplest one. It is communication between young people and their parents. I have called this communication, ‘The Third Talk™’, the talk about porn. There is no homework, memorization, workbooks, data to send in, CD’s, software or any additional sessions necessary. This is the easiest porn conversation you’ll ever have. It has taken me longer to edit this page, than it takes me to end the hurt porn can cause a young person.

I offer a 60-minute description of how I see this challenge from a place of knowledge that no one else can offer. Through my history, advocacy, and first hand knowledge of how and why historical efforts to curb porn have failed, I showcase the only remedy to online porn exposure and then how we mitigate it’s hurt to our own kids. I offer three concepts for kids and parents to think about and discuss. In short, I initiate this historically challenging topic for parents from a place of respect, knowledge, care, and even a touch of humor. My discussion does not offend. Nor do I blame, shame, ridicule, or use colorful language. I am a guide through this risky gauntlet, and I do not pull punches. I speak to families regarding the world our kids live in, not the world I wished they lived in. I do this because the challenge we face is no less urgent than the health and wellbeing of our most precious and vulnerable family members.

What hurt can this content cause young people?

Porn can change the impression children can have of members of the opposite sex, and even themselves. Porn in extreme doses can reduce the ability of young kids to form thoughtful relationships at a young age, and then even into adulthood. Porn can take all the fun out of what should be a normal, healthy, natural, exciting, wonderful, gradual, exploration process. And, if we all remember, this process can be confusing and nuanced enough on its own, without the ocean of porn content’s influence of fantasy based videos created for much older adults. When kids see porn online, without understanding its potential hazards, their ‘sex education’ comes at a regrettably young age and at a very high price. When that bill comes due kids have two choices: believe that this is how they are supposed to behave with others and behave that way, or opt out because ‘porn-sex’ is not for them. It usually doesn’t work out to be the latter. I am offering an alternative through simple communication. Changing the culture for kids with communication, factual information, and new conversations within the safety of the family; together we as Parents can make this change!

Taken in the extreme, watching porn can prevent young men, even high school aged young men, from being able to properly, biologically respond to physical stimulation with a real person. Its called PIED. Watching porn in extreme doses can present situations where girls feel obliged to behave in certain ways, or perform certain acts, that they may not want to, or be emotionally ready to. They may do this to be ‘cool’ or fit in, or keep a boyfriend whose knowledge of sexuality based physical interaction comes only from watching online porn. This can cause physical and emotional damage, frustration and fear, and even reduce her interest or pleasure in sexuality itself. If not managed, it can create resentment toward Men in general; a group of people these young Women will want to interact with for the rest of their lives.

Taken in extreme doses, pornography can turn young boys into predators, who see young girls as objects to be conquered and cast aside. Pornography in the brain of a young boy can alter the interest he has in real people, enhance aggression, depression, fear, shame, loneliness, and in extreme cases, increase the chance of his assaulting someone.

So let’s go!

Several educators, marketing folks, speakers, celebrities, public relations groups, and International and domestic child protection groups have all agreed to join me. Now we need you Parents! Kids deserve to have this topic discussed as openly as other dangerous topics, like drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. We do not want kids to be forced by peer pressure or self-esteem, (or physically forced), to do things or behave in certain ways that they don’t want to just because other kids do; and maybe only because all the other moms and dads refused to the have The Third Talk™ with their kids.

So, let’s all have The Third Talk™.

Remember: 20 years ago this wasn’t a problem for parents and kids. Smartphones, busy parents, savvy kids and online porn have changed all that permanently, and we all need to adapt now. If someone has a better idea than gathering together as parents, admitting we have a real challenge and tackling it head-on by effectively talking about it, I am very interested in hearing from you. Eliminating porn from the internet is not a realistic strategy. Online porn companies do not break the law, and as a matter of fact, follow the law stringently and have for 25 years. Filters can be easily technically subverted by kids as young as 9 or 10. Underage American children see over 12,000,000,000 porn videos a year every year. I would talk about our ability to legislate this challenge but that avenue requires congress.

Communication and education is the only remedy to the challenges exposure to porn can cause young kids.

There is much more to say, and I welcome your comments in the comment section. Just know that I am here to help parents and kids talk together about porn in a safe, thoughtful, considerate, sex-positive environment. I am committed to providing your children and mine, a start to discuss online pornography openly, without shame or blame or embarrassment; and to permanently remove any notion, that porn, in any way, represents real sex education.

That Parents, is how we’ll end porn-culture!

Together we can further socialize this conversation for your children’s and your grandchildren’s, health and lifelong happiness.