Exposure to pornographic content at a young age leaves lasting effects

29 Jan 2022 03:21pm
Public health advocates and experts opined children and developing youth could develop addiction towards explicit content if they began watching it at a young age. (Source: 123RF)
Public health advocates and experts opined children and developing youth could develop addiction towards explicit content if they began watching it at a young age. (Source: 123RF)

SHAH ALAM - Watching pornography at a young age could lead to harmful effects among developing adolescents, says public health advocates and experts.

Salwa Malaysia Organization (Salwa) Chairman, Associate Professor Dr Nur Izura Udzir said watching pornography at a young age could change a person’s mental landscape and impact their thinking patterns.

According to studies published in the United States, she said those who consumed too much pornographic content saw a change in their brain’s grey matter that causes addiction.

“Those addicted would not understand that the content would affect their behaviour and interaction with others.

“It will most likely consider actions seen in pornographic material as something normal and feel like trying out what they watch onscreen in real life,” she said.

Nur Izura, who is the director of the Center for Co-curriculum and Student Development at Universiti Putra Malaysia, said the effects of pornography addiction could lead to violence among children as more than 80 per cent of pornographic content contained violent, aggressive and sex-related scenes.

She said the Home Teaching and Learning Session process which was implemented during the Movement Control Order had contributed to the increase in the number of children who watch pornography.

“They use gadgets more often for online class purposes now thus making it easier to access these materials as parents sometimes find it difficult to control or limit the time they use gadgets.

“In the past, it was easier for parents to limit the period of use of gadgets for their children because there was no essential requirement for them to have a mobile phone.

“But when online learning started, it has become a necessity. Children have become more vulnerable due to the frequent use of gadgets,” she said.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Mental Health Association (MMHA) Consultant Psychiatrist and President Professor Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj said the mental and physical health of children, especially those aged 12 and below were still in the process of development.

Related Articles:

He said just like an adult individual, the human brain would secrete dopamine, a chemical that releases when witnessing something that gives a feeling of joy or passion.

“It can be obtained in several ways including watching pornography. In this condition, dopamine will be secreted in excess and cause addiction.

"This will cause children to have problems in terms of mental and growth because they will often focus on pornography.

“They also tend not to engage in physical activities such as playing or interacting with their friends and parents.

"In fact, they are more focused or isolated in the room to watch pornography," he told Sinar Daily.

Commenting further, Andrew said, the high secretion of dopamine in the child's body can cause them to find the same temptation in other things.

He said this includes drug and alcohol addiction in a bid to get the same sense of passion.

Meanwhile, a Psychiatrist from Klinik Alaminda, Dr Hazli Zakaria said, pornography addiction will disrupt the learning process because time and focus are often used for such activities thus affecting their performance.

He said being a teenager means that it is the time to learn to interact with their peers and form friendships which will be one of the important social support factors to avoid facing mental problems in the future.