In this section, we go into the science of how pornography affects us. If you find it too complicated, don’t worry – the later sections are easier to follow.
Did you know that a young person’s brain is still developing right up into their mid-twenties?
The period from 10 to 19 years old is often called adolescence. It’s a time when a person goes through a lot of new experiences and learns a lot.
It’s also when our brain starts to connect up two parts:
- our reward system (the limbic system)
- our system for problem-solving and complex thinking (the pre-frontal cortex)
During childhood, the brain works hard to develop a strong reward system. We enjoy and look out for things that make us happy or excited, and we try to avoid things that make us sad or angry.
One of the last parts of the brain to develop is our pre-frontal cortex. That’s the area that’s responsible for much more complicated and difficult thoughts.
In this part of your brain, you’ll start to learn things like:
- long-term planning
- logical thinking
When we look at pornography, it triggers areas in our brain’s reward system. These get excited and make chemicals in our brain, like dopamine.
The way the brain works means we’re more likely to do things again if they produce lots of these chemicals. But we may not think about the consequences of doing these activities over and over.
If someone masturbates while they look at pornography, this releases even more of these chemicals and makes the person even more likely to keep doing it.
It can seem like there’s no end to the amount of pornography you can find online. This can mean you end up searching for more and more “pleasure” or “reward”, clicking through lots of videos and websites searching for the “best one”.
As you click through them, you may be exposing yourself to pornography that is more extreme, risky or even illegal.