Sex, Lies & Trauma

Straight Talk about Sexual Compulsivity

Effects of Porn on Adolescent Boys

When porn becomes an adolescent boy's mode of sex education

The onset of puberty brings drastic changes in the life of adolescent boys. Their hormone levels spike, their bodies go through many changes signaling a transition from boyhood to manhood, and their curiosity about sex and sexuality accelerates.

It can be a time of great curiosity and great confusion because boys' budding sexuality opens them up to many questions, fantasies, and urges that have not existed before. Adolescent boys have historically sought out information about sex through friends, family members, and pornography, hoping that this knowledge will fulfill their newfound curiosity and urges. But in today's digital world, most adolescents turn to porn for answers-and pleasure--and when porn becomes an adolescent boy's primary mode of sexual education, it can be harmful to his brain's sexual development. 

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Between the ages of 12 and 20, the human brain undergoes a period of great neuroplasticity. The brain is in a malleable phase during which billions of new synaptic connections are made. This leaves us vulnerable to the influence of our surroundings and leads our brains to be "wired" around the experiences and information that we receive during that time period.

When an adolescent boy compulsively views pornography, his brain chemistry can become shaped around the attitudes and situations that he is watching. Sadly, pornography paints an unrealistic picture of sexuality and relationships that can create an expectation for real-life experiences that will never be fulfilled.

Pornography can be exciting for an adolescent boy to watch, but it can also be intimidating. It is important to note that the average size of a man's erect penis is 5.8 inches long, while the average size of a male porn star's erect penis is 8 inches long. Also, 85% of female porn stars have breast implants, and 100% of the pictures of porn centerfolds have been enhanced, according to Men's Health, March 2004.

Pornography shows us a world where relationships mean nothing and immediate sexual gratification means everything. Therefore, the adolescent viewer's brain is being wired to expect that sex and relationships are separate from one another, and that men and women's bodies should be sexually exaggerated as they are in porn--which can lead to shame about one's own body as well as failure to be aroused by the bodies of others.

Pornography on the Internet can be inexpensive, easy to access, and easy to hide. Many adolescents look at pornography when their parents think they are doing homework. While masturbating to porn, the adolescent brain is being shaped around a sexual experience that is isolating, visceral, and completely void of any love or compassion. This has the potential to lead to great problems in sexual compulsivity and sex addiction throughout the adolescent boy's life because his brain gets shaped to expect the "heroin-like" porn dopamine rush from all of his real-life sexual experiences. When he realizes that his actual sexual experiences are lacking this rush, he may seek out riskier and more visceral experiences that resonate with his early porn use. This is a scary vision for generations to come where men's brains have been "porno-sized" in adolescence to lead to a lifetime of sexual pathology.

If you're raising an adolescent boy, now is the time to talk to him in explicit detail about what interests him sexually. Is he more attracted to females or males? If so, does he have a crush on anyone? Is he willing to introduce you that person? Take time to let him know that his sexuality is nothing to be ashamed of and that you're going to put a filter on his computer to protect him from images that may be too much for his developing brain to handle. Where social networking is concerned, ask him if you can have access to his site so that you're part of his community of friends. Since sex education is sorely lacking in our public schools, you should involve yourself in guiding and educating your son about sex so that he can grow into a healthy sexual adult. More information is available on sex addiction los angeles.

 

Alexandra Katehakis, M.F.T., is the Founder and Clinical Director of the Center for Healthy Sex in Los Angeles. more...

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