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Pornography and the Young Mind

Exposing the developing brain to pornography at a young age carries the dangers described above and others.

The following are portions of an article written by Alexandra Sifferlin in September 8, 2017 - TIME special edition, The Science of Childhood, entitled “Why Teenage Brains Are So Hard to Understand”

Advanced brain imaging has revealed that the teenage brain has lots of plasticity, which means it can change, adapt and respond to its environment. The brain does not grow by getting substantially larger during the teenage years but rather through increased connectivity between brain regions. Although the development of the prefrontal cortex is the last step on the development checklist, teenagers undergo major changes in their limbic system—the area of the brain that controls emotions—at the onset of puberty, which is typically around the ages of 10 to 12. Doctors now believe that this mismatch in development of the impulse-control part of the brain and the hormone- and emotion-fueled part of the brain is what causes the risk-taking behaviors that are so common among teenagers.

The teen brain’s rapidly growing connections carry some negative side effects. About 70% of mental illnesses, including anxiety, mood and eating disorders, and psychosis, appear in the teen years and early adulthood. The timing makes sense, since the prefrontal cortex and frontal lobes are implicated in the emergence of diseases like depression and schizophrenia. Risks for health issues like addiction are also higher during this time period. “Addiction is simply a form of learning,” says Jensen. “Addiction is repeated stimulation of the reward circuit in the brain, which is more mature than the frontal lobe at that point. The biology of teens’ brains [makes them] more susceptible to the effects of substances and stress.”

“Teens can learn things harder, stronger, faster, and they can get addicted harder, stronger, faster,” says Jensen. A 2016 study reported that the risk of addiction to opioids increased nearly 40% among young people ages 18 to 25 from 2002 to 2014.

What’s become increasingly clear is that the dramatic changes in brain biology mean the teenage years are full of opportunity and vulnerability, says Jay Giedd, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, who has been studying brain changes among twins for years. “It’s a time of phenomenal leaps in our creativity and cognitive abilities,” he says. “This seeming paradox of adolescence is not a coincidence. Both the leaps in ability and the vulnerabilities to illness are related to the human adolescent brain’s remarkable ability to change.”

A core belief of Freein13 is based on the facts presented in the article. Exposing the developing brain to pornography at a young age carries the dangers described above and others. Thankfully the very plasticity that enables these problems is an essential part of the physical key in reversing these brain changes and providing the power of escaping the pornography trap.

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