Pornography - Normal Curiosity or Virtual Addiction?
By Stephen C. Schultz
This is a very interesting topic. I'm always amazed at the emotional extremes that people express as the topic of sex is discussed. Some say teenage sexual interests and experimentation are normal, while others decry it as "sin".
As a father of four, three daughters and one son, I am very concerned about what they see and are exposed to on the web. There is no question that this life's journey brings with it inappropriate and often hurtful experiences. My responsibility as a parent is to love and care for my children, help them reach their god given potential, and assist them in navigating those rough waters they will inevitably face throughout their lives. This does not mean I don't protect them from experiences or images that may be inappropriate, however, I can not shelter them either.
Within my work, I have had the unfortunate experience of assisting parents who have had their teenage sons involved in sexual misconduct of some kind. Usually these concerns involve someone else; a cousin, friend or sibling that these boys have had an innapropriate sexual experience with. Pornography is a common thread through each case. While I won't go so far as to say it causes sexually acting out, it certainly is a contributing factor.
The pain these parents and families go through is heart wrenching. The boys too, seem emotionally detached and struggle with establishing trusting relationships. It is as though they are the fragile seedling trying to grow in a parched and barren soil. These issues are affecting families at every socio-economic level with no regard to religion or race.
The focus of these discussions usually surrounds the issues of morality. There are those who decry resistance to pornography as the cause of "Bible Thumpers" and the "Moral Majority". Still others will argue it is freedom of speech and artistic expression.
While these discussions are often heated and sometimes entertaining, this narrow focus also ignores the physical and biological effects of Pornography on a developing adolescent brain. You cannot ignore the biological effects of serotonin, dopamine and the secretion of other neurotransmitters when pornography is viewed. Once a pattern is developed, "tolerance" for what was once a stimulating activity usually occurs. The next course of action is to find and view something a bit more "Hardcore" to continue this cycle.
One cannot argue that exposure to a still picture in a Playboy Magazine when you were a kid is the same as video and webcam exposure of today. The first fully integrative virtual reality video game has recently been created. This latest technology stimulates the brain in a whole new way than in generations past. At some point, for a percentage of adolescents who struggle socially anyway, the next step is acting out on what has only been seen and fantasized about previously.
If you know of someone struggling with these issues, please let them know there are places that can help like Oxbow Academy (www.oxbowacademy.net). Even High Schools around the country have recognized there is a concern.
Parents, consultants, teachers and therapists...I am interested in your thoughts?