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Effects of porn on children

effects of porn on children

Debating the pros and cons of pornography takes place in our legislatures, in our pulpits, on news television, and on numerous websites and blogs. While there are voices on every side of the conversation—liberals and conservatives, atheists and theologians, feminists, First Amendment advocates, and sociologists—a critical voice is being left out. As a brain researcher, I believe it is essential that an understanding of how pornography affects the brain should be included in this discourse. By gaining a better understanding of how sexually explicit material is processed and how it influences brain development, we can begin to understand its effects on our understanding of sexuality, what harm it might lead to, and how our framework of sexuality is evaluated.

But the effect is not making men into raving beasts. On the contrary: The onslaught of porn is responsible for deadening male libido in relation to real women, and leading men to see fewer and fewer women as “porn-worthy.” Far from having to fend off porn-crazed young men, young women are worrying that as mere flesh and blood, they can scarcely get, let alone hold, their attention.

Unfortunately, while all these ideas make common sense, none of them hold up in the face of research. I believe that common sense, gut instinct and intuition are incredibly valuable. For years, I’ve recommended the book The Gift of Fear , which reminds us to listen to our intuitive warnings of danger. As a scientist and empirically-guided clinician, I recognize that intuition and common sense can yield great insights, which must then be measured against objective evidence. The problem is that common sense is “commonly” subject to bias, and can often be warped by our limited experiences, our assumptions, our needs, our subjective values and our cultural norms.

It reignited the fear I first felt after the encounter with my father: Does porn somehow invade the deepest recesses of men’s minds? Of women’s? And if so, does every man carry a mental cache of unerasable erotic images. 

effects of porn on children

Unfortunately, while all these ideas make common sense, none of them hold up in the face of research. I believe that common sense, gut instinct and intuition are incredibly valuable. For years, I’ve recommended the book The Gift of Fear , which reminds us to listen to our intuitive warnings of danger. As a scientist and empirically-guided clinician, I recognize that intuition and common sense can yield great insights, which must then be measured against objective evidence. The problem is that common sense is “commonly” subject to bias, and can often be warped by our limited experiences, our assumptions, our needs, our subjective values and our cultural norms.