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CWALAC Demands Congress to Protect our Children Online
It is no secret that pornography has ravaged our modern times. It is an internal slow rot in our society that continues to grow. It is a pandemic that has caused 17 states to recognize pornography as a public health hazard. According to one study, six in ten Americans report having watched pornography at some point in their lives. Pornography or sexually explicit material is not new; it has existed since the start of humanity, but what has changed is the ease of access. Even just 30 years ago, if an individual was looking for sexually explicit material, they needed to go to the local adult store, have a subscription to Playboy, or go to the adult content section of the local video rental store. So not only was there an intentional search for the content, but there was a shame in being caught. The local high school teacher did not want to risk the embarrassment that he would feel if his students saw his explicit content purchase. 

The invention of the internet and the smartphone, while beneficial in many ways, created the perfect storm for pornographic addictions. No longer did an individual have to intentionally seek out pornography or risk the shame of being caught, but addiction could now flourish with unfettered access. Pornhub alone generated 4.2 billion site visits in 2019, that is 4.8 million visits every hour. How does Pornhub create so much traffic for their websites? Well, humans are flawed and often driven by perverse motives, sure, but the more sinister business model is creating addicts at a young age to ensure they have customers for years to come.

study that utilized young children ranging from 11 to 16 from Middlesex University in London showed that 28% of respondents were first exposed to pornography by accident and 19% were unexpectedly shown it by someone else. An adolescent brain is not the same as an adult brain; it is undeveloped, specifically the prefrontal cortex. This region of the brain is known to control your behavior and impulses, delay instant gratification, regulate your emotions, balance short-term rewards with future goals, and predict the consequences of your behavior. However, similar to an adult’s brain, when a child looks at pornography their body is still flooded with dopamine, creating an extremely pleasurable experience. The difference between the developed and undeveloped brain is that a child’s brain is literally unable to understand why viewing pornography is harmful and has long-term negative effects, like loneliness and depression. Due to their inability to properly process explicit content, they are creating unhealthy neural pathways and setting themselves up to be lifelong addicts.

There is much to be done about the moral rot that is pornography in our culture, but an easy first step is to pass the SCREEN Act, ensuring that age verification is required of every adult content website, specifically alleviating the unintentional exposure that children are often presented through online ads and links. Children are physically incapable of making rational decisions when it comes to pornography. It is clear that if we wait for adult content websites to take this issue seriously, nothing will ever get done. 

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