The Dangers of Teens Addicted to Porn
The most-searched-for term on the internet is “sex.” This may not surprise you, but the amount of pornography readily available to your children through the internet, social media, and sexting should motivate you to be proactive in talking with them about it and seeking help for teens addicted to pornography.
We all have two brains, so to speak: the Thinking Brain and the Feeling Brain. Because teens’ Thinking Brains are still developing, their Feeling Brains are in charge. Their Feeling Brain wants to recreate the initial rush of pleasure it felt when it saw porn for the first time, so it craves more and more new porn, which fuels addiction and can lead to a snowball effect of damaging behaviors, setting up teens for a lifetime of miswired thinking and relationships.
Porn teaches that sexual partners are objects to be consumed, not people to be respected and valued. In our clinic, we have repeatedly seen that teens being exposed to porn can lead to distorted views of love, unrealistic sexual beliefs, stunted emotional intimacy in relationships, sexually-aggressive behaviors, promiscuity, erectile dysfunction, and depression.
The Two Brains in Teens Addicted to Porn
In her book Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids, Kristen A. Jensen offers insight and help for teens addicted to porn. She describes how the two areas of the brain mentioned above—the Feeling Brain (the limbic system) and the Thinking Brain (the cortex)—are affected by pornography.
The Feeling Brain functions without any conscious input. If you’re hot, your body sweats to keep cool. If you’re cold, your body shivers to keep warm. Your Feeling Brain has an automatic reward system (dopamine) that acts solely on feelings and doesn’t know right from wrong, which is why the Thinking Brain’s role is so important.
The Thinking Brain is in charge of solving problems, exercising self-control, and making plans. The Thinking Brain knows right from wrong and can help you make good choices because it knows the consequences of bad choices.
Without the Thinking Brain, the Feeling Brain will do whatever feels the best, even if it’s dangerous, which can create bad habits. Brain scans have shown that porn addiction can actually shrink the Thinking Brain. The more good decisions the Thinking Brain makes, the stronger it becomes, though, so the Thinking Brain can protect you from addiction.
When the brain sees pornography, it cannot differentiate between what is real life and what is a picture, movie, or video game. Porn activates the attraction center of the brain, creating very powerful feelings that can be difficult for kids to control. In normal life, the attraction center creates feelings of happiness and makes people fall in love.
When that attraction is activated by porn, however, teenagers internally experience what they’re seeing. This results in either wanting to reenact the pornography or becoming desensitized, which will damage their ability to form healthy, long-lasting relationships.
Pornography addiction in teens is typically a shameful secret, and parents are often unaware of the long-lasting damage it will create for their children. This is why seeking therapy for a teen addicted to porn is so critical. But you need to choose the right therapist with the right specialty.
Therapy for Teens Addicted to Porn
If you believe your child may be addicted to pornography, remember that your child is facing an internal battle, and we are here to help. Our clinic offers several therapy options for teens addicted to porn. Both Ryan Russ and Dan Hunt are Certified Sexual Addiction Therapists (CSATs) with experience helping teens overcome sexual addiction. If you are asking yourself if you should seek therapy for your teen addicted to porn, please contact us for an appointment, which can be done in person or via teletherapy, when needed.
You are not alone in navigating how to parent and protect your teen in this digital world. Seeking help for your child today can help them develop healthy views of sex as well as healthy emotional relationships.
To learn more about how pornography affects the brain, visit Fight The New Drug.