Pornography: The New Narcotic

A recent report, The New Narcotic* by Morgan Bennett, published online by the Witherspoon Institute highlights the dangerous and insidious nature of Internet pornography within the culture your kids are growing up in.

Bennett writes that neurological research has revealed the effect of Internet pornography on the human brain is just as potent–if not more so–than addictive chemical substances such as cocaine or heroin. While no one disputes the dangers of addiction to hard drugs like these, sadly little is said today about the addictive nature of pornography.

According to the report, the science behind pornography addiction explains that it operates the same way as addiction to drugs. The parts of the brain that trigger a pleasure response when drugs are ingested are also triggered when viewing pornography. Further, both for repeated use of drugs and pornography, the brain becomes altered in ways that require ongoing and increasing consumption to create the pleasure the user seeks.

Compounding the issue is the fact that the Internet functions much like a drug dealer in delivering pornography to users. A fall 2013 report from Juniper Research, estimates that by 2017, 250 million people will use mobile or tablet device to access pornography, up by more than 30% on current usage. Online pornography providers are aware that smartphones and tablets are key distribution channels and are focusing on optimizing delivery of content to handheld devices.

Now What?
• Assume your teen will be exposed to online pornography (it’s likely he or she already has.)
• Understand the difference between a teen that stumbles upon online pornography and a teen that seeks it out. React appropriately based on behavior.
• Make discussing pornography a topic of discussion with your teens.
• Set clear expectations for online behavior regarding pornography.
• If your teen is regularly viewing pornography consider using an accountability tool such as the ones found on

*Source: The New Narcotic by Morgan Bennett, published online by the Witherspoon Institute’s Public Discourse, October 19, 2013.

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Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, editor, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord Culture Blog also appears on Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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