The dangers of desensitization towards pornography

Olivia Longmore, Staff Reporter

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Desensitization is a process used by psychologists in where a patient is exposed to a stimulus for the purpose of the elimination or reduction of sensitivity. In other words, the more someone, particularly the underdeveloped brains of children, is exposed to a type of behavior, is more likely to believe the action being shown is acceptable. For example, as the amount of tobacco users increase children’s brains change from the shocking first contact of seeing someone smoke to the lazy hundredth time. They have become desensitized to the issue, which can lead to their possible future nicotine use. However, desensitization does have benefits, such as lowering the side-effects of phobias and overcoming emotions involved in social anxiety. Yet while some actions may appear to be harmless, could it be affecting the minds of our youth?

  According to the Huffington Post in the article, “Parenting in the Digital Age of Pornography”, children start watching pornography as early as age 11. Similarly, the article “This is What Porn Does to Your Brain” by Melinda Carstensen of Fox News talks about frequent exposure to different forms of behavior early on in child development. Childhood development research states that kids learn by watching what happens in their environment. According to Dr. David Whitebread and Dr. Sue Bingham from the University of Cambridge in their article “Habit Formation and Learning in Children” states that “each child’s development and learning are highly dependent upon the type of physical and social environment in which they live, since these synaptic connections arise from and are selectively adapted by the child’s specific experiences.” The article goes on to make the point that to grow in their relationships with other kids and adults they need this “amassing of knowledge about what is perceived around them” and that this “underlying nature of its categories crucially depend on their experiences.”

  Let’s take a look at how quickly desensitization and misunderstandings of situations can affect a young child’s brain. For example, desensitization can start while learning about the effects of tobacco in a person’s lungs. Generally speaking, a student learns about the effects of smoking in first grade and by seventh is already desensitized to the dangers of smoking in the fact that it no longer suggests a sense of urgency or immortality. In this case, how long would it take for the “normal” porn hub behaviors to become acceptable when the user is watching twice a week?

  According to Melinda Carstensen from Fox news in the article “This is What Porn Does to Your Brain”, people who watch porn show “evidence of harm in terms of compulsive use and socialization toward behaviors that most people perceive as antisocial”. In other words, pornogrophy can be addictive and may lead to the inability to perceive social cues or further self induced isolation. In fact, according to Kristen Weir of the American Psychological Association in her article “Is porn addictive?”, Valerie Voon, a neuropsychologist, states, “the brains of compulsive porn users resemble the brains of alcoholics watching ads for a drink.” However, the article goes on to talk about how she wouldn’t categorize it as an addiction as it is unlike any substance or alcohol problem which can be clearly identified with an MRI scan of the brain. This type of behavior can be compared to homeschooled children facing the struggles of social awkwardness in their move into a public high school environment. This child will base his knowledge of highschool based on what he sees in movies, and I don’t know about you, but I do not believe the 2004 film Mean Girls is an accurate representation of the high school experience.

  Yet, there is another example that we could point to when looking at the effects of pornogrophy. According to the Netflix original series, “Conversations with With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes”, Ted Bundy was a seemingly normal boy who grew up in a small suburban town. When he was 13, he took the trash out and found an agressive pornogrophy magazine laying on top of the trashcan. He then picked it up and thus began what he calls “my addiction to pornogrophy”. Many neighbors and friends of Ted Bundy stated that they never saw this coming, and many of them categorized him as “normal”. Ted Bundy stated himself that, “…like an addiction, you keep craving something harder, which gives you a greater sense of excitement, until you reach a point where the pornography only goes so far.”

  This does not mean that watching pornogrophy guarentees someone will be linked to rape or muder. After all, according to Kristen Weir, the percentages of men that consume porn range from 50 to 99. However, it is crucial that we are aware and educated about these possible addictions and the effects that it may cause. So if you indulge in this sort of guilty pleasure, just remember that every brain is different on how they react to stimuli. Are you willing to take to take the psychological effects it may cause?

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